Top U.N. court: Nicaragua must pay Costa Rica for environmental damage

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 02, 2018 6:37 AM

By Stephanie van den Berg

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Nicaragua was ordered by the UN's top court on Friday to pay its neighbor Costa Rica nearly $379,000 dollars in reparations for environmental damage to parts of its wetlands.

Judges at the International Court of Justice said the clearing of hundreds of trees and almost 2 square miles of vegetation "significantly impacted the site” at the mouth of the disputed San Juan river.

Presiding Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf, reading the decision, said Costa Rica should be compensated for the damage caused, the cost of environmental restoration, expenses and interest. The amount must be paid by April 2.

Judges had already ruled that Nicaragua had to compensate its neighbor in 2015, but took two years to set an amount after the countries failed to agree on a sum.

The dispute over the border line between the two Central American nations has been running since an 1858 treaty that attempted to map out their territory after their independence from Spain and Mexico.

The countries have a handful of claims and counter-claims before the court, centering on the mouth of the San Juan river and the Isla Calero, a virtually uninhabited area.

The same area is the subject of a separate case about their shared maritime boundary. A decision in that case will be handed down by the court later Friday.

(Editing by Anthony Deutsch)