Around the Region

Landmark ruling issued by Inter-American rights court

In an unprecedented and far-reaching decision that was made public on Feb. 7, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that a healthy environment is “fundamental to the existence of humanity” and that states must take all measures to protect against environmental degradation, even when the harm is experienced across national borders. Legal experts say the decision, which lists the environmental obligations of the 25 signatories to the 1969 American Convention on Human Rights, will give states and communities legal tools to combat harms related to everything from mining projects to marine contamination and climate change. “This is the most important environmental decision ever by the Court,” says Astrid Puentes, co-executive director of the Inter-American Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) in...

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Scientists conduct satellite monitoring of river dolphins

Amazon researchers and the Latin American division of the environmental group WWF have joined forces in a project that involves satellite-tracking of endangered Amazon river dolphins to identify and protect their feeding and reproductive habitats from damage caused by humans. In Brazil, researchers at the WWF and the Mamirauá Institute, a private but largely government-funded Brazilian Amazon research organization, attached satellite transmitters to the dorsal fins of five pink river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) in November. The dolphins were caught in the basin of the Tapajós River, in the eastern Amazon, and researchers plan to track their movements there at least through June, at which point the transmitter batteries are expected to run down. The signals are sent to a satellite, from which researchers...

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Environmental crimes chapter eyed for Argentine penal code

Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s administration is preparing legislation that would establish the first-ever environmental-crimes chapter in the country’s penal code, with one provision calling for prison terms for those found to have caused illegal deforestation. Diego Moreno, Macri’s environmental-policy secretary, told EcoAméricas on Feb. 19 that proposed legislation being drafted by a panel of experts appointed by Macri will be ready to send to Congress in March. Argentina’s current penal code, drafted originally in 1921, contains isolated provisions addressing environmental crimes—pollution of drinking-water sources, for instance. Meanwhile, other environmental crimes are the subject of separate legislation, as in the case, for example, of hazardous waste disposal and illegal hunting. In weighing the possibility of an environmental-crimes chapter in the...

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