April 5, 2018
Today, the Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia ruled in favor of the youth plaintiffs in their appeal of the Superior Tribunal of Bogotá’s February 12, 2018 decision. In doing so, the Supreme Court agreed with plaintiffs’ claims that deforestation in the Amazon and increasing temperature threatened plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to a healthy environment, life, health, food and water. The court also declared that the Colombian Amazon forest has legal personhood and that the Colombian government has a resulting duty to protect it.
The Supreme Court found that the Colombian government had not done enough to prevent deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, and ordered the Colombian government and its agencies to create and implement plans to halt deforestation; update and orient existing land management plans towards climate change mitigation and adaptation; and develop an “intergenerational pact for the life of the Colombian Amazon” with the plaintiffs, affected communities, and research and scientific organizations.
February 12, 2018
Today, the Superior Tribunal of Bogotá dismissed the tutela action brought by 25 Colombian youth against their government seeking a halt to deforestation in the Colombian Amazon and the protection of their constitutional rights from climate change. The tribunal found that the lawsuit should have been filed as an Acción Popular (a more time-consuming procedure concerned with the protection of collective rights) rather than as a tutela. The plaintiffs intend to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Colombia.
January 29, 2018
Twenty-five youth from across Colombia, inspired by the youth plaintiffs in Juliana v. U.S., filed a lawsuit alleging that the Colombian government’s failure to prevent deforestation in the Colombian Amazon is violating their constitutional rights to life, health, food, water and a healthy environment. The lawsuit was filed as a tutela, a legal mechanism under the Colombian Constitution that allows for an expedited hearing of cases alleging violations of fundamental rights. The tutela presents evidence that deforestation in Colombia is not only one of Colombia’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, but also severely impacts the land, soil, water, biodiversity and livelihood of local ecosystems and communities. The tutela seeks action from all levels of government in Colombia to halt deforestation, and further requests that the Colombia government prepare a plan to reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, and formulate municipal-level adaptation and mitigation strategies.