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The right to a dignified burial in Costa Rica

Recently, the Constitutional Chamber, in its judgment 20418-2022, heard of a writ of amparo filed by a citizen against the Administrative Board of the Guápiles Cemetery. In this case, the Chamber highlighted the right to a dignified burial that our Constitution protects. In this blog we analyze this case.

The citizen claimed before the Court that the remains of the person who had been his wife had been placed in a common grave by the Board. The citizen claimed that the Board made this decision in violation of his rights.

The Court found that the citizen had signed a 5-year niche lease with the Administrative Board of the Cemetery. This contract expired in 2020. The Board informed the citizen of the decision not to renew the lease of the niche due to the emergency caused by COVID-19 and, for this reason, he had two options: exhume the body or rent a private ossuary. Subsequently, the Board carried out the exhumation of the body at its own expense and placed it in a common grave, without giving the citizen the option of renewing the lease of the niche.

The High Court considered that the reasons given by the Administrative Board for not renewing the niche lease were not justified. The Chamber reiterated that every person has the right to a dignified burial. Accordingly, it ordered the Administrative Board to renew the lease of the niche and to place the human remains in a private vault or ossuary under the terms established in the contract.

This precedent highlights the judicial alternatives that a person who considers that the right of a family member or loved one to a dignified burial has been violated could have. The writ of amparo is an agile and simple mechanism to guarantee this right.

At CELIG we provide specialized services to the LGBTQI+ community. If you want more information or make an appointment with us, call us at 4800-0248 / 2245-0855 or write to us at info@celigcr.com.

We are located in San José, Barrio Escalante.

M.Sc. Ana Isabel Sibaja Rojas

CELIG – Center for Equal Litigation