Costa Rica Creates Legislation to Prevent Torture in Prisons

Costa Rica Creates Legislation to Prevent Torture in Prisons

 

18 February 2014 – Costa Rica’s president, Laura Chinchilla, today signed a law that legally establishes a national mechanism for the prevention of torture in prisons, which will be monitored by the Office of the Ombudsman.

“This is one more of the many actions of human rights that Costa Rica has established at the international level and we hope that other countries will join because it’s not effective to address crime with torture,” said the president in a press conference.

This law shall be upheld by the Office of the Ombudsman and act independently of the state authorities, in order to verify that the human rights of prisoners are respected.

Their duties include a periodic review of the treatment of inmates and to make recommendations to the authorities, among others.  The national preventive legislation against torture has been operating for some years with a team assigned to the Office of the Ombudsman, which will now achieve the status of law following the signing of Chinchilla.

This team has reported in recent years that there is overcrowding in Costa Rican prisons, as well as other problems that threaten the human dignity of the prisoners.

In recent years the excess prison population has been increasing in Costa Rica. For example, in 2009 it rose from 9.8% to 36% by 2013.

“With this new law, our country is meeting its obligations under the Optional Protocol (Convention against Torture) and the recommendations of the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, which will place us in a position of leadership and on the cutting edge Latin America,” said Justice Minister, Ana Isabel Garita.

The Optional Protocol entered into force in 2006 and currently 55 states around the world have ratified, according to information from the Costa Rican Presidential House.

The Costa Rica News (TCRN)

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