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UN tribunal: Colombia violated Nicaragua’s rights in the Caribbean

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The United Nations’ highest court ruled Thursday that Colombia violated Nicaragua’s rights in the waters of the Caribbean Sea, including by interfering with Nicaraguan fishing vessels and granting Colombian and other boat fishing licenses.

The majority decision of the International Court of Justice gave Nicaragua a victory in a long legal battle, although it did not completely end the dispute between the two Latin American nations.

Nicaragua filed a lawsuit in 2013, saying Colombia had violated its sovereignty in the Western Caribbean, a region of the sea long claimed by both countries that is home to a UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve inhabited by dozens of people. threatened species.

In a 9-6 vote, the World Court ruled that Colombia “must immediately cease this behavior,” ICJ President Jean E. Donoghue said during a public reading of the ruling.

The judges voted 10 to 5 to establish that Colombia had infringed the rights of Nicaragua “by interfering with the fishing and marine scientific research activities” of Nicaraguan vessels or those holding a Nicaraguan license and with naval activities ” and pretending to apply conservation measures” in Nicaraguan waters.

Colombia said the decision had positive effects for Bogota, despite the imposition of limits on its naval activities.

“They have limited some of its functions in the sense that they cannot undertake environmental control activities, which is a shame because we have the capacity to do so,” Colombia’s representative to the court told reporters. , Carlos Gustavo Arrieta Padilla. “But nonetheless, the court maintained the possibility that the Colombian Navy was there and doing operations against organized crime in the area.”

A 2012 World Court ruling granted Nicaragua fishing rights over much of the western Caribbean, but the Colombian navy continued to patrol the waters, which are also used by traffickers to smuggle drugs in Central America.

In hearings last year, Nicaragua argued that Colombian navy vessels were infringing on its fishing rights by patrolling the area the court had awarded Nicaragua as an “exclusive economic zone”.

The country also alleged that the Colombian Navy had deterred vessels with Nicaraguan fishing permits from operating in the area while providing protection for vessels with Colombian permits.

Colombia has denied the charges and said its navy patrols the area to combat drug trafficking and to protect the Seaflower Marine Reserve, an area created by Colombia that is on the world’s list of biosphere reserves. UNESCO and overlaps the economic zone assigned to Nicaragua in the 2012 decision.

In a victory for Colombia, the majority of the tribunal said in Thursday’s ruling that the points used by Nicaragua to demarcate its territorial waters after the 2012 ruling were “not in accordance with customary international law”.

The court’s decisions are final and legally binding.

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