Costa Rica, Supreme Court of Justice , 5 August 2022, No. 17995-2022
Deciding body (English)
Deciding body (Original)
Type of body
Type of Court (material scope)
Type of jurisdiction
Type of Court (territorial scope)
Outcome of the decision
Link to the full text of the decision
Through this decision, the Supreme Court of Justice of Costa Rica decided a request for clarification of a previous judgment in which the Plaintiffs, the parents of a minor, indicated that they considered that their fundamental rights and those of their children were being violated, since the Ministry of Public Education was preventing them, the parents, from attending educational centers because they were not vaccinated against COVID-19. In their opinion, this made it impossible for them to participate in their children's academic and administrative matters.
The Court indicated that no injury to the fundamental rights of the parents nor the minors had been proven and that the decision of the Ministry of Education to request vaccination certificates from the parents had been taken to protect the best interests of the minors, by preventing the spread of COVID-19 which is highly contagious.
Therefore, the Court denied the Plaintiffs’ petition and, in this decision, indicated that the first judgment had been sufficiently clear regarding the points they challenged.
Facts of the case
A couple of parents felt that their fundamental rights and those of their children were being violated because the Ministry of Public Education made it mandatory to be vaccinated to enter educational centers. That decision prevented them from accessing these institutions, making it impossible for them to participate in their children's academic and administrative matters.
As a result, they filed an amparo action to protect their rights and those of their children. The judge determined that the measure was justified because it had been taken to protect the children's best interests aiming to prevent them from being infected with COVID-19. The Court also found that it had also not been proven that the Plaintiffs’ rights had been harmed.
Type of measure challenged
Measures, actions, remedies claimed
- Indicate whether that decision authorized the Ministry of Education to make the vaccine against COVID-19 mandatory
- Clarify if the Court maintained the opinion that the vaccine against COVID-19 prevented the contagion and spread of this virus
Individual / collective enforcement
Nature of the parties
Type of procedure
Reasoning of the deciding body
Although the Court indicated that its decision had been sufficiently clear and contextualized, it reiterated its arguments:
The Court indicated that the Plaintiffs were presenting a disagreement with the provision in general terms, without mentioning a specific act that had affected their fundamental rights, nor those of their children. Consequently, it stated that it was impossible to determine the existence of action contrary to their fundamental rights.
Furthermore, the Court said that the decision of the Ministry of Education to require mandatory inoculation for all persons who were involved in the educational process of minors was based on the minors’ best interest, seeking to preserve their health by preventing the spread of COVID-19, as well as to mitigate the effects of the disease in the event of catching it.
It also indicated that this decision was based on the provisions issued by the Ministry of Health on the pandemic caused by COVID-19, whose actions were based on the General Health Law, which established in its powers: "To declare mandatory vaccination against certain diseases as well as certain examinations or practices deemed necessary to prevent or control diseases".
In addition, the National Vaccination Law states that "Vaccinations against diseases are mandatory when deemed necessary by the National Vaccination and Epidemiology Commission, in coordination with the Ministry of Health and the Costa Rican Social Security Fund".
The National Vaccination and Epidemiology Commission determined that the COVID-19 vaccine was mandatory. Therefore, the Ministry of Education was empowered to issue guidelines related to the protection of the health of minors in institutions.
In addition, the Court pointed out that the requirement of vaccination against COVID-19 was not capricious but was ordered for preserving the health and life of the population, with particular emphasis, in this case, on minors.
Conclusions of the deciding body
The Court denied the Plaintiffs’ petition. It considered that its initial ruling had been clear and reiterated that, first, no harm to the fundamental rights of the parents nor the minors had been proven and, second, the decision of the Ministry of Education to request a vaccination certificate from the parents had been taken to protect the best interests of the minors, by preventing the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, it was justified.
Fundamental Right(s) involved
- Freedom of movement of people, goods and capital
- Right to health (inc. right to vaccination, right to access to reproductive health)
- Children's rights
Fundamental Right(s) instruments (constitutional provisions, international conventions and treaties)
- Freedom of movement of people, Art. 22, Costa Rican Constitution
- Right to health, Art. 46, Costa Rican Constitution
- Children's rights, Art. 51, Costa Rican Constitution
Rights and freedoms specifically identified as (possibly) conflicting with the right to health
General principle applied
Balancing techniques and principles (proportionality, reasonableness, others)
The Court implicitly applied the rule of law principle when determining whether the Ministry of Education had the legal authority to require children's parents to be vaccinated to enter the schools.