Deciding body (English)
Deciding body (Original)
Type of body
Type of Court (material scope)
Type of jurisdiction
Type of Court (territorial scope)
Further areas addressed
Outcome of the decision
The president of a Costa Rican political party filed an appeal against a resolution of the National Body of Delegates (an electoral authority), which denied his request for authorization to hold a political rally which is considered a public gathering. According to the Plaintiff, the electoral authority had already authorized the gathering but later revoked this decision arguing that every electoral agent had to comply with the COVID-19 sanitary regulations. The Plaintiff challenged the decision before the Electoral Registry but the request was denied. Thus, Plaintiff appealed before the Supreme Elections Court.
The Plaintiff argued that the denial of the authorization was illogical because the Ministry of Health had already authorized massive events such as concerts and soccer matches. The Supreme Elections Court confirmed the decision of the lower court and the electoral authority as it found that it had correctly balanced both the political rights of people to gather, be informed, and share values and ideas during rallies and public health, with the latter prevailing in the present case.
Facts of the case
- On December 9, 2021, the president of a political party requested the National Body of Delegates, CND, an electoral authority, for an authorization to hold a political rally on January 30, 2022, in a public square.
- On December 22, 2021, the CND issued resolution 278 authorizing the rally under the condition that every regulation, including sanitary regulations issued afterwards, had to be duly observed by the party.
- On January 3, 2022, the CND issued resolution 300 revoking the authorization, stating that the COVID-19 regulations issued by the Ministry of Health did not allow for political rallies, considering that the massive attendance would elevate the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
- On January 7, 2022, the Plaintiff challenged this resolution before the National Registry. On January 10, 2022, this request was denied due to sanitary considerations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, the Plaintiff appealed the decision.
- On January 17, 2022, the Supreme Elections Court denied the appeal and confirmed the decision of the lower court.
Type of measure challenged
Measures, actions, remedies claimed
Individual / collective enforcement
Nature of the parties
Type of procedure
Conclusions of the deciding body
The Court concluded that the revocation of the authorization was legitimate, dismissed the appeal of the Plaintiff and confirmed the decision of the lower court.
Reasoning of the deciding body
The Court reasoned that the lower court and the electoral authority had correctly balanced the political rights, which included the right to share values and to be informed of the political ideas of their parties while participating at political rallies, with the right to public health, the latter prevailing in the current case. For the Court, the sanitary crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the dangerous variants stemming from it, Omicron and Delta, required the enforcement of mitigation and prevention measures to avoid the risk of contagion. In this sense, according to the Court, the decision to revoke the authorization for the political rally was a legitimate measure to attain the end of protecting public health from COVID-19. Likewise, for the Court, public authorities followed the sanitary measures provided by the Ministry of Health, which prohibited these political rallies considering they were activities that entailed massive gatherings.
Fundamental Right(s) involved
- Freedom of association, Public gathering, Assembly
- Political rights
Fundamental Right(s) instruments (constitutional provisions, international conventions and treaties)
- Costa Rican Constitution: Art. 21. Right to life
- Costa Rican Constitution: Art. 26. Right to public gatherings
- Costa Rican Constitution: Art. 98. Right to form political parties and to participate in politics
Rights and freedoms specifically identified as (possibly) conflicting with the right to health
- Health v. freedom of association / public gathering
- Health v. political rights
General principle applied
Balancing techniques and principles (proportionality, reasonableness, others)
Proportionality: The Court analyzed whether the measure of prohibiting political rallies was necessary and adequate to achieve a legitimate end, in this case, to protect public health. It concluded that it was, considering the new variants of the virus, which, according to the Court, required prevention and mitigation measures to avoid contagion. The Court also analyzed whether public authorities had balanced public health against the right to public gatherings and the political rights of citizens, including the right to share values, ideas and to actively participate in these activities. The Court concluded that they were properly balanced and that public health i.e., the public measure prohibiting rallies, prevailed in the present case. Hence, the Court implicitly conducted a proportionality test.