Within the framework of the neighborhood camp in the town of Molinari for the construction of the Punilla Highway, the Cosquín Control Court resolved a habeas corpus action. In the resolution, the Court highlighted the obligation to guarantee a safe environment for environmental defenders in accordance with the standards set by the Escazú Agreement.
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As reported in the media, during the first weeks of May a self-convened group of neighbors was camping in the town of Molinari as a way of protesting against the construction of the Punilla highway. In favor of this group of people, a habeas corpus action was filed before the Control Court of the city of Cosquín.
Let us remember that this action is foreseen in article 43 of the National Constitution. In short, its purpose is to protect the physical freedom of people against any real threat or actual deprivation of liberty that is illegal (arrests/detentions).
After analyzing the situation, the Court gave the reasons why it considered that the requirements for the origin of habeas corpus were not met. He considered, based on the evidence collected, that no illegal arrest or detention had been carried out, nor was there a certain and imminent threat of deprivation of physical liberty.
However, the Court considered other rights at stake, such as the right to protest, petition the authorities, and opinion, among others. Thus, regarding the way in which the eviction of the neighbors by the security forces took place -according to his statements-, he considered that this should be the subject of investigation by the corresponding bodies (Prosecutor’s Office) forwarding a copy of the performances.
What is interesting and novel about the resolution is that, going beyond the strict object of the habeas corpus action, the Court assessed the statements of the neighbors in relation to what happened and the environmental nature of the protest. In this approach, he recommended to the police authorities and the Prosecutor’s Office that a safe environment be guaranteed for the exercise of these rights -as long as other rights are not affected-, citing and applying article 9 of the Escazú Agreement on environmental defenders.
This treaty, let us remember, is the only international instrument that guarantees environmental defenders specific standards of protection of their rights. This protection framework is due to the fact that Latin America and the Caribbean is the most dangerous region for environmental defenders (227 deaths in 2020 according to the Global Witness Foundation).
Although the Escazú Agreement has been in force for a year, the resolution of the Cosquín Control Court would be the first judicial precedent in the Latin American and Caribbean region to apply the provision on environmental defenders of Escazú to guarantee a safe environment in accordance with recorded to date Even in the absence of specific regulations at the local level, these clauses are fully operational and must be applied by all state authorities. Undoubtedly, the jurisprudential advance constitutes a strong impulse on the road towards the effective implementation of Escazú.
See judicial resolution of the Control Court
Juan Bautista Lopez, firstname.lastname@example.org
*Photo taken from La Izquierda Diario