B. M. Wilson, O. Rodriguez & S. Morales (2021)
In Albert, R, D. Landau, P. Faraguna, and S. Drugda. ICON and the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy. ISBN: 978-0-692-15916-3
The global COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s response to it dominated the social, political, economic and legal landscape of Costa Rica in 2020. The government’s measures to combat the pandemic included mandatory travel restrictions, shuttering of mass public events, and curbs on business activities. These salutary actions, while successful in comparison with most other countries in the world, generated a significant political and litigative backlash from people harmed by the measures that raised important constitutional questions concerning the appropriate role of the state in combating the pandemic. Many of these challenges were filed
directly with the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, commonly referred to as
the Sala Cuarta. In March 2020, the president declared a state of “National Emergency,”
which authorized the mobilization of all necessary public resources and agencies
to coordinate their response to the rapidly spreading Covid-19 crisis.
The pandemic also affected the operations of the Sala Cuarta and the administration of
the criminal justice system initially resulting in a significant backlog of criminal cases
that were ultimately resolved using video conferencing to link judicial personnel with
defendants or plaintiffs during their criminal hearings and trials. Another important constitutional event in 2020 was the signing of a constitutional guarantee for all people living
in Costa Rica to access to clean potable water, perhaps one of the most significant constitutional amendments in the last 70 years.
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