Tico Times, Costa Rica
Court in Costa Rica to Review CAFTA at Legislators’ Request
4 June 2007
At the request of a group of legislators, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) will review a controversial trade pact before Costa Rican citizens vote on it, according to a statement released Friday by the Judicial Branch.
These 19 legislators — most of whom are from the Citizen Action Party (PAC) - asked on May 24 that the court review the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA), arguing that parts of it are unconstitutional. The justices have 30 days to rule on this matter.
Additionally, the Sala IV is studying a similar consulta presented by Ombudsman Lisbeth Quesada April 27 in which she expressed concern over CAFTA’s lack of consideration for human rights.
The court plans to make its ruling on CAFTA before a popular referendum tentatively scheduled for Sept. 23. The Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) has not commented on what it would mean for the referendum if the court rules that parts of CAFTA are unconstitutional, according to the daily La Nación.
In a statement released by Casa Presidencial Friday, Presidency Minister Rodrigo Arias declared his “total respect” for the court’s decision to accept the legislators’ request on top of the one previously presented by Quesada.
“The Sala IV’s decision will allow, once and for all, for a resolution of the worries certain sectors have” about CAFTA, the statement said. The minister, whose brother President Oscar Arias has strongly supported CAFTA since before he was elected, remained confident that the court won’t find the agreement unconstitutional because of the “professional way in which it was negotiated and the months of serious and exhaustive analysis it’s had in different forums, such as the Legislative Assembly’s International Affairs Commission,” the statement said.