After a series of protracted discussions in the National Congress, three environmental tribunals have been established in Chile. These tribunals are located in Antofagasta, Santiago and Valdivia.
Chile will join more than 40 countries that currently provide this type ofspecialised entity, and in doing so will comply with Principal 10 of the River Declaration (Declaración del Río)1992 regarding environmental justice. Doing so also demonstrates Chile’s compliance with recommendations made by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The tribunals will conduct judicial reviews of the decisions of the Environmental Superintendent, aiming to resolve administrative controversies and demands for environmental damages.
The Santiago tribunal, located in the Centre of Justice, has jurisdiction over theregions of Valparaíso, Metropolitana, O’Higgins y del Maule. In June of 2013, the Antofagasta tribunal will commence its operations, which will have jurisdiction over the region of Arica, Parinacota, Tarapacá, Antofagasta, Atacama and Coquimbo. The third tribunal, located in Valdivia, will have jurisdiction over Biobío, La Araucanía, Los Ríos, Los Lagos, Aysén and Magallanes.
The government is currently in the process of selecting candidates for the roles of Minster and Deputy Ministers. Meanwhile, the Senator has approved the justices of environmental tribunal in Santiago.
In practice, rather than being a final point of challenge, the aim of the environmental tribunals is to review decisions of the Executive, which until now, has been the arbiter of decisions in these environmental matters.