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Costa Rica Must Defend Its Citizens and Protected Lands, Says U.N. Expert

World  (tags: climate, climate-change, conservation, environment, ecosystems, endangered, globalwarming, greenhousegases, habitatdestruction, habitat, wildlife, world, Sustainabililty, trees, water, protection, nature, pollution, humans, 'HUMANRIGHTS!', 'CIVILLIBERTIES )

- 2116 days ago -
U.N. expert John Knox said that "criminal threats strike at the heart" of Costa Rica's long history of civilian environmentalism.


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JL A (281)
Tuesday August 6, 2013, 1:51 pm

Costa Rica must defend its citizens and protected lands, says U.N. expert
Posted: Thursday, August 01, 2013 - By Zach Dyer
U.N. expert John Knox said that "criminal threats strike at the heart" of Costa Rica's long history of civilian environmentalism.
John Knox
Alberto Font

John Knox, first United Nations independent expert on human rights and the environment, presents his initial findings in San José on environmental human rights in Costa Rica. The expert spoke with academics, civil society groups, government agencies and local U.N. offices during his trip here from Jul. 28 to Aug. 1.

The Costa Rican government must protect those who work to defend the environment, said a United Nations human rights expert on Thursday afternoon.

U.N. independent expert on human rights and the environment John Knox presented his initial findings on the state of Costa Rica’s environmental human rights at a press conference, where he lauded the country for its strong history of environmental protection but urged it to aggressively address growing threats against civil society groups who work to protect the environment.

“It’s not the task of social organizations, civil society or citizens to put their own lives at risk to protect the environment. These are police functions that have to be adequately carried out by the government,” Knox said.

“It’s one thing to protect turtle eggs from tourists, it’s another to protect them from poachers” or drug traffickers, the U.N. human rights expert added.

The expert’s comments, which wove in and out around the case of the slaying of Jairo Mora, came just one day after the Judicial Investigative Police arrested eight suspects for the 26-year-old environmentalist’s killing two months ago.

Knox declined to comment on specific cases but acknowledged that Mora came up frequently in his conversations with academics, civil society groups, government agencies and the U.N.’s local office.

“Criminal threats to that process strike at the heart of one of Costa Rica’s traditional strengths,” Knox said, referring to civil-society participation in environmental protection.

The lawyer celebrated the proposed commission currently in the Legislative Assembly on past and current crimes against human rights defenders working to protect the environment.

Crimes against environmentalists are often “treated as a series of isolated incidents, so that each incident is treated as perhaps a threat because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time, or perhaps that they just wanted to steal a cellphone,” Knox observed. “But from the environmentalists’ perspective, they see it as part of a broader pattern that includes threats to a wide range of people working to protect the environment.”

The lawyer also urged the legislature to quickly overhaul the country’s aging water law, including a provision to establish water as a human right, based in part on the previous recommendations from a U.N. rapporteur on water who visited Costa Rica in March 2009.

Knox, however, remained bully on Costa Rica’s ability to address these challenges.

“Costa has a history of not waiting until problems become particularly bad in the environment before trying to do something about them,” he said.

Knox also lauded Costa Rica’s sustainable tourism certification and the country’s long history of civil society involvement in environmental lobbying and protection. He also acknowledged the country’s pioneering decision to grant its citizens the constitutional right to a healthy environment.

“Costa Rica is considered to be a leader in human rights, but like all leaders there is the challenge to be better than you have before,” the lawyer concluded.

The U.N. expert plans to release a formal report on his findings to the public and the Human Rights Commission sometime in early 2014.

Terry V (30)
Tuesday August 6, 2013, 3:43 pm

JL A (281)
Tuesday August 6, 2013, 4:32 pm
You are welcome Terry

Kit B (276)
Tuesday August 6, 2013, 4:45 pm

This is a cagey way to tell Costa Rica a country with no military force to take responsibility for more force. I should think if the UN is actually that interested in helping, a UN force could help out if needed.

JL A (281)
Tuesday August 6, 2013, 5:30 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last day.

Peggy A (0)
Wednesday August 7, 2013, 7:45 am
Thank you

Jaime Alves (52)
Wednesday August 7, 2013, 7:52 am
Noted, thanks.!

JL A (281)
Wednesday August 7, 2013, 9:33 am
You are welcome Peggy and Jaime!

Theodore S (56)
Wednesday August 7, 2013, 9:58 am
When there is economic prosperity for all the crime rate and other violent acts tend to decrease. This too is Maslowe's Hierarchy of Needs. The problem with most of the Americas is that the majority of people are dirt poor. Welcome to you America unless you change the path you find yourselves on. Canada won't be far behind the way it's going either.

JL A (281)
Wednesday August 7, 2013, 11:26 am
You cannot currently send a star to Theodore because you have done so within the last day.

Sheila D (194)
Wednesday August 7, 2013, 4:49 pm
Read and agree with Kit that the UN could have some kind of a force there, if for nothing else than to help train a Costa Rican army/Guards. Thank you.

JL A (281)
Wednesday August 7, 2013, 4:53 pm
You cannot currently send a star to GGma Sheila because you have done so within the last day
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