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UN top court raps Colombia over sea row with Nicaragua

THE HAGUE (AFP) – The United Nations’ top court yesterday ordered the Colombian navy to stop interfering in Nicaraguan waters, ruling on a longstanding legal battle over maritime borders.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) “finds that by interfering with fishing and marine research activities of Nicaraguan-flagged vessels… in Nicaragua’s exclusive economic zone… Colombia’s has violated Nicaragua’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction”, presiding judge Joan Donoghue said.

The court “finds by nine votes to six … that the Republic of Colombia must immediately cease (this) conduct”, she said, handing down the verdict at the ICJ’s headquarters in The Hague.

In 2012 the ICJ, which rules in disputes between countries, awarded Nicaragua a swathe of disputed Caribbean Sea territory extending 200 nautical miles from its coastline.

But the following year, Nicaragua lodged a fresh case, accusing Colombia of ignoring the ruling.

It alleged Bogota had threatened to use force to back up its claims in the oil- and fish-rich region.

Nicaragua’s lawyers also asked the ICJ make Colombia pay compensation for “the threat or use of force by the Colombian navy against Nicaraguan fishing boats”.

Colombia denied the accusations, saying its presence in the region was “due to other imperatives”, including international maritime rescue and the fight against drug trafficking.