San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica says Nicaragua lacks evidence of alleged damage to border river

Nicaragua has presented no evidence to the International Court of Justice that Costa Rica has caused damage to the San Juan River with the construction of a road on the border of the two countries, Costa Rica’s Foreign Vice Minister Gioconda Ubeda said on Tuesday.

“The judicial process requires that the assertion is proven, and Nicaragua has failed to do so at this hearing,” the official told a local television station.

Representatives of Costa Rica and Nicaragua are taking part in a hearing before the world court to discuss a request for provisional measures by the government of Managua against Costa Rica. The hearing is being held from Tuesday to Friday.

Nicaragua contends that the construction of a road parallel to the San Juan River, the natural border between the two countries, is causing erosion and sedimentation in the river.

Nicaragua asked the world court to order Costa Rica to stop its work in order to avoid further damage.

“We believe that what they are looking for is that we do not end up building the 1856 route that is part of [a plan to] strengthen our state policy on defense along the border with Nicaragua,” Costa Rica’s foreign vice minister said.

“That route is being built purely within Costa Rican territory, not Nicaragua, and what they are saying is that there is damage to the San Juan. But to prove this, they would have to submit environmental impact studies,” she said.

Ubeda said that although Costa Rica is not required to provide evidence at the hearing, their representatives will present seven technical studies that dismiss the environmental damage claim.

Three weeks ago, the two countries argued a case in the same court after Costa Rica requested that Nicaragua suspend excavations of a wetland in the border region of the Caribbean that Costa Rica claims as its territory.

The disputed area of about 3 square kilometers has been the subject of a process initiated in the world court in 2010, as both countries claim to have rights to it.

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