In Colombia, burden of proof shifting to polluters


Colombia, like other Latin American nations, has long counted the presumption of innocence among its highest legal values, constitutionally guaranteeing it for defendants in criminal and civil cases. But a controversial decision last month by Colombia’s Constitutional Court, the nation’s highest tribunal, has changed this state of affairs. The ruling upholds a law establishing that the burden of proof in civil cases now lies with the defendant when government authorities determine the defendant has polluted or degraded the environment. Representatives of mining, oil and other extractive-industry interests—as well as some green advocates—have denounced the law, which is similar to measures in place in Costa Rica and Ecuador, as anathema to fundamental values. “I don’t think you should defend the environment at the... [Log in to read more]

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