Spanish version

SUPREME COURT

Squatter law declared void

The Supreme Court has thrown out a law authorizing prison time for squatters.

Spanish version

Temas:

The Supreme Court has declared a law that called for a prison sentence of up to three years for squatting to be unconstitutional.

The ruling was made Sept. 23 and published Tuesday. Judge Hernán de León wrote the decision, which overturned the 2013 law.

The case was presented by Renaul Escudero, on behalf of María Santos and Porfirio Vásquez. De León based his decision on article 47 of the Constitution, which recognizes the right to private property, as well as the legal provision that states that squatters are allowed to live on land they have peacefully occupied for 15 years.

"If what was intended was to avoid the invasion of property, the drafting of the standard must be done differently," said de León.

The decision was supported by seven judges. Meanwhile, Judge Harry Díaz issued a dissenting opinion, saying that the imprisonment was not unconstitutional because it was directed to regulate squatting.

"This standard guarantees private or public property and does not prevent the exercise of domain, as it has different requirements," he said.

The law was approved by the government of former President Ricardo Martinelli.

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