Torture in  [Costa Rica]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Costa Rica]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Costa Rica]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Costa Rica]  [other countries]

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century                                                    

Republic of Costa Rica

Costa Rica's basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports.

Poverty has remained around 20% for nearly 20 years, and the strong social safety net that had been put into place by the government has eroded due to increased financial constraints on government expenditures. Immigration from Nicaragua has increasingly become a concern for the government. The estimated 300,000-500,000 Nicaraguans in Costa Rica legally and illegally are an important source of - mostly unskilled - labor, but also place heavy demands on the social welfare system.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: CostaRica

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Costa Rica.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.

*** ARCHIVES ***

Costa Rica signs anti-torture law

Zach Dyer, The Tico Times, 19 February 2014

[accessed 24 Feb 2014]

President Laura Chinchilla signed a bill into law Tuesday establishing a mechanism to implement the United Nations’ Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

The protocol establishes an independent national body to prevent torture, cruel punishment and other degrading treatment of prisoners and other people deprived of liberty.

The unit, under the administration of the Ombudsman’s Office, will periodically examine the treatment of detainees and make recommendations to authorities on how to improve their conditions and treatment. The group also will make observations on current legislation and play an active role in its adaption to their recommendations.

The mechanism will operate with “absolute independence and without interference by State authorities,” according to a statement from Casa Presidencial.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/CRI/CO/2 (2008)

[accessed 25 February 2013]

Pretrial detention

5. The Committee endorses the concerns expressed by the Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/CRI/CO/5) regarding the duration of pretrial detention and the legally authorized regime of  incommunicado detention. It also expresses its concern at the high number of persons held in pretrial detention owing to a general increase in violence in the country, as the State party has acknowledged (art. 2).

The State party should take prompt steps to restrict the use of pretrial detention, as well as its duration, using alternative methods whenever possible when the accused does not represent a danger to society.

Complaints, investigations and proper convictions

12. The Committee notes with satisfaction the cases where the Convention has been directly applied by domestic courts. However, the Committee notes that only one complaint of torture has been registered and that no convictions have been handed down for torture since the new law entered into force.  The Committee notes with concern that some possible cases of torture have been investigated as abuses of authority despite their gravity.  It also notes with concern reports that victims and witnesses are not provided with adequate protection (arts. 2, 11 and 13).

The State party should ensure that legislation on torture is effectively applied and that all those involved, especially police officers and prison staff, border guards, medical personnel and judicial personnel, receive proper training in the new legislation.  Detainees should also be given information on the Convention and domestic legislation and on the rules and guidelines for police officers and prison personnel relating to torture.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 22 January 2013]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – Although the law prohibits such practices, some members of the security forces committed abuses. Any statement obtained through violence is invalid, and the government investigated, prosecuted, and punished agents responsible for confirmed cases of abuse.

In August the Criminal Court of the First Judicial Circuit of the Atlantic Zone found four police officers guilty of abuse of authority for beating a suspect who resisted arrest for public disturbance. Each officer received a three-year suspended sentence. All four defendants appealed the judgment, and the appeals were pending at year's end.

In May a former police officer stood trial for allegedly beating a robbery suspect in an attempt to force a confession following an arrest in 2003. At year's end the criminal trial was still ongoing. The officer resigned his post in March, which nullified all administrative actions against him and ended the internal investigation.

The ombudsman's office lodged and recorded complaints of police misconduct (see section 4). As of August the ombudsman's office had received 47 reports of police abuse of authority or misconduct. Of these, 34 reports remained under investigation, 1 was determined to be legitimate, and 12 were found to be without merit.

On November 10, an individual was attacked by two guard dogs on private premises he had unlawfully entered during the early morning hours. Seven public security officers witnessed the attack but did not intervene for nearly an hour while the dogs mauled the victim. The officers alleged they could not shoot the dogs for fear of injuring the victim, who was found to be Nicaraguan. An investigation into the officers' actions proceeded at year's end.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, " Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Costa Rica ",, [accessed <date>]



Torture in  [Costa Rica]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Costa Rica]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Costa Rica]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Costa Rica]  [other countries]