Thursday 1 December 2022

Constitutional Court annuls health order that closed Parque Viva

Magistrated consider that there was an indirect violation of press freedom

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QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica’s Costitutional Court (Sala Constitucional or Sala IV as it is commonly known) upheld an appeal (Amparo) that was filed by a group of journalists from the newspaper La Nación against the closure by the government of Parque Viva de La Guácima in July of this year.

President Rodrigo Chaves and Joselyn Chacón Minister of Health, at the press conference on July 8 announcing the closure of Parque Viva (Photo: Roberto Carlos Sánchez)

The appeal was filed against President Rodrigo Chaves, and the Minister of Health, Joselyn Chacón.

In their appeal, the journalists from La Nación (who owns the Parque Viva complex) told the Court that since he was a presidential candidate, Rodrigo Chaves publicly expressed a promise of “destruction” of La Nación and Channel 7, thus recorded in a video on January 29, 2022, and submitted as evidence to the Court.

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In addition, the journalists pointed out that less than two months after being sworn in, Chaves began violent verbal attacks against the press and that he used the press conferences of the Government Council to sow doubts about the financial health of the Grupo Nación and its ability to pay bonds purchased by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS).

Read more: Rodrigo Chaves: “Grupo Nación has defamed the country, before the press and the international community”

According to the magistrates, there was an indirect violation of press freedom. The Court resolution also orders the State to pay the costs, damages and losses caused.

 

In this way, the health order (MS-DRRSCN-DARSA2-OS-0368-2022 dated July 8, 2022, and related document MS-DRRSCN-DARSA2-1724 -2022, dated July 15, 2022) that generated the closure is annulled for, as justified by the Government, to protect the health and safety of the population.

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Read more: Government suspends operating permit for Parque Viva

Fernando Castillo, president of the Constitutional Court, explained that for the majority of the judges, the govenrment’s actions to close Parque Viva constituted “an indirect violation of freedom of the press, a freedom that is an essential element of our democratic system.”

Asier Isusi, event and concert producer, welcomed the ruling and said it will benefit event organizers.

Read more: President Chaves justifies the temporary closure of Parque Viva

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On the resolution adopted by a majority of the Court Friday afternoon, the Government reported that it is respectful of the country’s institutions and the separation of powers, and affirms that they have not received notification of the ruling of the Sala IV, so they cannot comment on what action will be taken.

In a press release, the Government emphasized that they will continue to defend the health and safety of citizens in accordance with the country’s Political Constitution.

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