Colombia has spent $5.6 million on legal fees in its lost battle with Nicaragua over Caribbean waters surrounding San Andres, according to a report by Semana magazine.
Since 2001, when the Nicaraguan government’s filed its first complaint against Colombia in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), 13 Colombian and 10 international lawyers have been contracted to fight the legal battle with the Central American country. The identities of those lawyers were included in the Semana report.
Over the more than 10 years of litigation, the legal team has changed some three times.
Controversy has been generated over the leaked documents obtained by Semana, the contents of which were classified and presented to Congress in a closed session by Maria Angela Holguin, the minister of foreign affairs.
The documents are a list of answers to nearly 100 questions asked by Colombian senators to the foreign minister regarding the government’s strategy against a new complaint lodged last year by Nicaragua on the same issue of San Andres’ maritime borders.
The Colombian government has called Nicaragua’s moves in the ICJ “expansionist,” and in the documents Holguin claims they are intended to “amputate the San Andres archipelago and its islands from the Colombian coast.”
For reasons of “national security,” Holguin refused to get into the specific legal strategy being employed by the team of lawyers. She does mention that the lawyers were chosen for the experience in maritime law and litigation in the ICJ.
Earlier year, the Constitutional Court ruled that a 1961 law called the “Bogota Pact,” which ceded border issues to the ICJ, was unconstitutional in that only Colombia’s Congress could authorize changes to national frontiers. Colombian border issues were then no longer considered to be under the jurisdiction of the ICJ.
Nonetheless, since then, six lawyers have been contracted to fight the lawsuit, according to Semana.
President Juan Manuel Santos was quick to criticize the leaking of information: “Very serious that answers from a classified session have been leaked from the Senate.”
The current president of the Senate, Jimmy Chamorro, has also been critical. He has suggested that measures be taken to avoid such leaks in the future, such as keeping the official answers verbal, according to El Espectador.
In 2012, the ICJ ruled in favor of Colombia’s sovereignty over the San Andres.
The court’s decision was made based on the Colombia’s historical sovereignty over the seven islands that consist of the archipelago of San Andes and Providencia.
The ruling did say, however, that part of the waters previously under Colombian control would fall under Nicaraguan sovereignty.
- Colombia ha gastado US$ 5,6 millones defendiéndose de Nicaragua (Semana)
- Senado admite que es improbable descubrir quién filtró documentos de litigio con Nicaragua (El Espectador)
- El Presidente Santos presenta demanda de inconstitucionalidad del Pacto de Bogotá (Presidencia de la Republica)
- Decisión de la Corte Constitucional, “fallo histórico”: Presidente Santos (El Colombiano)