Amicus Brief on Rights to Information and Public Participation in Colombia

CCSI submitted an amicus brief to the Constitutional Court of Colombia concerning the Tutela hearing of Mansarovar Energy Colombia Ltd. v. Tribunal Administrativo del Meta (The Consulta Popular of Cumaral, Meta). The hearing concerned a challenge by Mansarovar Energy Colombia Limited of a municipal-wide referendum (the Consulta Popular) concerning whether or not the extraction of hydrocarbons should be permitted in the municipality of Cumaral. The municipality voted 97% against allowing the extraction of hydrocarbons.

CCSI’s brief focused on the international human rights law dimensions of the case, given that Colombia’s Constitution renders the government’s international human rights law obligations binding under domestic law. In the brief, CCSI’s arguments included that:

  • All people have international human rights to public participation and to information in the context of public decision-making regarding potential investment projects.
  • Meaningful public participation and effective access to information are also necessary prerequisites for the exercise of many other human rights, including the rights to health, food, and water and sanitation.
  • The Consulta Popular contributed to the realization of the rights to public participation and to information insofar as it encouraged information sharing about the likely impacts of hydrocarbon projects, and allowed for rights holders to influence decision-making, by articulating the overwhelming consensus among citizens that such projects should not be allowed.

On October 11, 2018 media reported that the Court upheld the challenge to the referendum while also ordering congress to address the lack of a mechanism for community participation.

The amicus brief is available in English and Spanish.