The Sala Constitucional, also known as Sala IV (Constitutional Court) on Wednesday condemned the State for not timely lifting the blockades of truck drivers and students on Ruta 32 that connects San José with Limón; as well as in Pérez Zeledón.
By a majority (6 to 1), the Court ruled after analyzing habeas corpus appeals presented by people who were affected by the blockades carried between June 26 and July 2 on the Ruta 32 and on the Jilguero bridge on Ruta 2 in Pérez Zeledón.
The Court concluded that national authorities – Tránsito, Seguridad Pública and Presidencia – should have taken both proportionate and effective measures to lift the blockades, and that by not doing so, the complainants’ freedom of transit was violated.
Therefore, the State will be obliged to pay all damages and losses caused by these demonstrations, the high court magistrates condemned.
The magistrates ruled that, as established by numerous national and international jurisprudence, although the right to protest is not condemned, it is limited when other people’s fundamental rights are affected.
“The greater the impact on the rights of third parties, the greater the need for effective regulation or intervention provided by the competent authorities. Thus, when the protest affects a main route, as is the case with national routes No. 2 and No. 32, which are essential road arteries for the country and its inhabitants, its blockade, regardless of the existence or not of alternate routes, is a serious affectation and severely damages the interests and rights of third parties in all fields”, said the Constitutional Court in a press release.
It was also established that the protesters “exceeded” in the exercise of their right to protest and assembly and that the authorities had to take both proportionate and effective measures to restore circulation.
According to the Cámara de Transportistas de Carga (Canatrac) – Chamber of Cargo Transporters – more than one thousand containers that were trapped in blockades on Ruta 32. This, according to them, generated losses of up to US$15 million dollars due to the merchandise being lost, as the blockades stopped product shipping to other countries.
In Perez Zeledon, when police lifted the blockades, nine people were arrested, including two minors.