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Viewing cable 07SANJOSE524, COSTA RICA?S 7TH ANNUAL TIP REPORT SUBMISSION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07SANJOSE524 2007-03-16 22:10 2011-03-07 18:06 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy San Jose
Appears in these articles:
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasDestacadas/Investigacion2702320.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702325.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotaPrincipal/Investigacion2702324.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702326.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702327.aspx
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0524/01 0752232
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 162232Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7539
INFO RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHEFHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000524 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
SENSITIVE 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR G/TIP (BFLECK), WHA/PPC (MPUCCETTI), G, INL, DRL, PRM, 
WHA/CEN (JMACK) 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KCRM PHUM KWMN SMIG KFRD ASEC PREF ELAB CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA?S 7TH ANNUAL TIP REPORT SUBMISSION 
 
Ref: 06 State 202745 
 
1. (SBU) The following is Embassy San Jose?s submission for the 
2006-2007 annual trafficking in persons (TIP) report.  Responses are 
keyed to checklist questions outlined in reftel beginning at paragraph 
27.  Post?s POC for the report is Political Officer Robert E. Copley. 
Telephone number: (506) 519-2253 or fax (506) 519-2435.  Total number 
of hours spent in preparing the TIP report:  Poloff Copley 20, 
Political Assistant Saenz 14, Political Assistant Sanou 10, Political 
Counselor 1, A/DCM 1. 
 
Overview 
-------- 
 
A. Costa Rica is a country of mainly transit, destination, and to a 
much lesser degree, origin for internationally trafficked men, women, 
and children.  Specific numbers for each population are unavailable. 
The victims are trafficked primarily for sexual exploitation and, to a 
lesser extent, for labor exploitation.  According to the IOM, Costa 
Rican victims are trafficked to El Salvador, Guatemala, Japan, and the 
United States.  Costa Rica is a transit country for victims being 
trafficked to the United States and Canada.  Women and girls from 
Nicaragua, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Panama, and less 
frequently from Russia, the Philippines, Romania, and Bulgaria are 
trafficked to the country for sexual exploitation.  Costa Rican women 
and children are occasionally trafficked within the country for the 
same purpose. 
 
Men, women, and children are also trafficked for forced labor as 
domestic servants, agricultural workers, and workers in the fishing 
industry.  Chinese nationals are trafficked to the country for debt 
bondage or forced labor.  Indigenous Panamanian women and children were 
brought into the country for forced labor and begging during the period 
covered by this report.  Reliable data on the potential scope of the 
problem is not available.  Authorities can only provide information on 
existing cases, and data from NGO?s is usually anecdotal in nature, and 
is not systematically collected at the national level.  Governmental 
and non-governmental sources agree, however, that women and children 
constitute the majority of trafficking victims who pass through Costa 
Rica. 
 
B. Trafficking in Costa Rica has gone deeper underground in response to 
successful anti-trafficking efforts by authorities.  Many victims of 
trafficking are now being exploited in private settings (or even 
remotely using audiovisual systems) as opposed to public places such as 
hotels or nightclubs. 
 
Since the Arias Administration took office in May, 2006, political will 
to fight trafficking has become increasingly evident.  The following 
six initiatives are good examples: 1) expansion of the National 
Coalition Against Human Trafficking headed by the Vice Minister of 
Government and comprised of key government institutions. The coalition 
was created during the previous administration, but the Arias 
Administration expanded it to include civil society organizations; 2) 
proposed amendments to the August 2006 immigration law that would 
expand the legal definition of trafficking and increase measures to 
protect victims of trafficking; 3) launch of a training program for 
other government institutions on treatment of victims by the Women?s 
Institute (a government entity), in conjunction with IOM; 4) a 
protocol, drafted by the government and IOM, for repatriating 
trafficking victims; 5) a media campaign to alert potential victims of 
trafficking and to provide a victims? hotline (titled ?Call and Live?), 
sponsored by IOM, IDB, UNICEF, and the Ricky Martin Foundation in 
conjunction with the Child Welfare Institute(PANI); and 6) the 
government?s participating in drafting a document to promote 
multilateral coordination against trafficking in Central America, the 
U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. 
 
IOM, which could not provide data specific to Costa Rica, estimates 
that up to 80% of women and girls who are illegal aliens in Central 
America are at risk of being trafficked.  These victims are threatened 
with physical harm if they fail to comply with the trafficker?s 
demands, and the traffickers may also threaten to harm the victim?s 
families.  Travel documents are routinely seized.  Some victims 
reported being flown to Panama and then smuggled over Costa Rica?s 
porous southern border.  Others were brought to Costa Rica with false 
travel documents. 
 
NGOs continue to report that some trafficking activities are timed to 
coincide with the harvest season.  Women and children from neighboring 
countries sometimes voluntarily travel to Costa Rica to engage in 
commercial sex work with agricultural workers (banana and coffee 
plantations, for example), and later fall into organized networks of 
commercial sexual exploitation. 
 
Methods used to approach the victims include false offers of lucrative 
employment.  Newspaper, magazine, and internet advertisements for 
models or hotel staff target females and offer unusually high salaries 
and benefits or foreign travel.  Thanks in part to an awareness 
campaign, immigration officials report a drop in cases of young Costa 
Rican women from poorer areas traveling alone and for the first time to 
Europe or Asia.  Specific numbers are not available, but in the past 
these women appeared to have been well briefed on what to say to 
immigration officers. 
 
Government sources of information for this report include the Chief 
Prosecutor?s Office, Director of Immigration, Public Security Ministry, 
the Women?s Institute (INAMU), the Children?s Welfare Institution 
(PANI), the judicial police (OIJ), the Legislative Assembly and the 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  International and local NGO?s also 
provided valuable information. 
 
C. Severe resource constraints continue to limit the Government of 
Costa Rica?s to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination 
of trafficking.  Funding for the police remains inadequate, although 
the Arias Administration has hired 400 new police officers and 
continues to make progress towards its campaign promise of adding 4,000 
over the next four years.  The mission of the police unit primarily 
responsible for prevention of the sexual exploitation of minors was 
shifted to focus on stolen cars and Intellectual Property Rights. 
 
Within the judicial police (OIJ), the three-person anti-trafficking 
unit was merged with the kidnapping and minor crimes unit making 
fourteen investigators available for trafficking cases.  However, lack 
of funding sometimes limited the unit?s ability to conduct undercover 
operations, pay informants, and acquire technology. 
 
PANI lacks resources to provide specialized shelters for child 
trafficking victims (victims are sent to general shelters) and there is 
no government funding for the rehabilitation services that to date only 
NGOs provide. 
 
Isolated reports of official corruption have been investigated by 
authorities.  The Immigration Director rejected a $2.5 million bribe 
and risked his physical safety to lead a successful sting operation 
that resulted in the arrest of eight individuals involved in 
trafficking Chinese nationals to Costa Rica (please see Heroes section 
below).  Despite funding limitations, the government worked with NGO?s 
to promote a national awareness campaign.  The Child Welfare Institute 
improved the awareness of municipal councils so to better protect 
children from trafficking in local communities. 
 
D. The government did not systematically monitor its anti-trafficking 
efforts during the reporting period.  Individual entities such as the 
police or prosecutors monitor their own activities but there is little 
coordination or sharing of these internal assessments outside the 
agency.  Data are kept in different formats, sometimes even within the 
same agency.  (Note:  This is true for all law enforcement-related 
statistics in Costa Rica.)  Trafficking information is shared at the 
national level during regular meetings of the National Coalition 
Against Human Trafficking. 
 
Prevention 
------------- 
 
A. The government acknowledges that trafficking in persons is a serious 
problem in the country, especially the sexual exploitation of minors. 
President Oscar Arias recently reaffirmed the serious nature of the 
problem in public comments at the launching of the ?Call and Live? 
telephone hotline mentioned above.  The government focuses its limited 
resources on combating the commercial sexual exploitation of minors. 
 
B. The Ministry of Public Security and Government is most directly 
involved in anti-trafficking efforts through the office of the 
Vice-Minister of Government who leads the National Coalition Against 
Human Trafficking. Other government agencies involved in this task are 
Immigration, the Child Welfare Institute (PANI), the Women?s Institute 
(INAMU), judicial law enforcement agencies (the prosecutor?s office and 
the judicial investigative police-OIJ), and the Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs.  The judicial police (investigators) and prosecutors are not 
part of the executive branch of the Costa Rican government but instead 
belong to the independent judicial branch. 
 
C. The government continued existing educational campaigns to warn 
young women of the dangers of commercial sexual exploitation, and its 
efforts through billboards, radio and TV spots to warn tourists of the 
penalties for sex with minors.  In addition, the government worked 
with, and relied heavily on, third parties to raise awareness and 
provide anti-trafficking training, such as the ?Call and Live? program 
sponsored by the Ricky Martin Foundation, IOM, IBD, and UNICEF.  This 
campaign, launched in February 2007, was designed to alert potential 
victims of trafficking, protect children and youth from exploitation, 
and provide information to the general public through television and 
radio announcements and posters.  IOM received some funding for this 
campaign from the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees 
and Migration (PRM). 
 
D. The government developed important programs to fight child labor and 
sexual exploitation by keeping children in school.  The ?Let's Get 
Ahead? program is aimed at reducing the drop-out rate through school 
vouchers and scholarships.  Also, PANI announced the reactivation of a 
project to provide daycare for the children of adolescent mothers 
funded by a tax on liquor and cigarettes. 
 
E. Collaboration among government officials, NGO?s, and other relevant 
organizations of civil society on human trafficking issues is 
improving.  The collaboration effort is reflected in the improved 
workings of the National Coalition Against Trafficking. 
 
F. Immigration authorities do not systematically monitor all 
immigration and emigration records for indications of human 
trafficking.  However, immigration does screen the exit permits 
required of all minors leaving the country for patterns of trafficking 
in minors.  Also, police checkpoints near the borders screen for 
potential trafficking victims, although the officers are primarily 
focused on detaining illegal aliens.  Porous land borders with 
Nicaragua and Panama are impossible to monitor effectively. Trafficking 
of all kinds occurs at ?informal? border crossings despite efforts by 
all three governments to patrol the border areas. 
 
G. Coordination and communication at the national level between various 
government agencies, NGO?s, and other relevant organizations are 
primarily channeled through the national coalition mentioned above. 
Internationally, the Ministry of Public Security cooperates with 
immigration officials from other countries, INTERPOL, and the FBI to 
identify and detain suspected traffickers.  The government also 
participates in the Commission of Central American Migration Directors 
(OCAM), which includes trafficking as part of its general work plan. 
Officials from immigration, the judicial investigative police (OIJ) and 
the chief prosecutor?s office received U.S. training on forming task 
forces and routinely work together on successful investigations.  An 
excellent recent example is the inter-agency cooperation that resulted 
in the disruption of the Chinese alien smuggling ring. 
 
H. The National Coalition Against Human Trafficking, established in 
November 2005, is still developing a national plan of action.  All the 
coalition?s members, including NGOs and representatives of civil 
society, are involved in developing the plan.  Among the objectives of 
the plan are: 1) continuous training and awareness of government 
officials on human rights and proper treatment of victims; 2) 
introduction of electronic passport security measures; 3) continued 
implementation of a regional mapping project (run by NGOs); 4) 
continued demand reduction campaigns via raised awareness among 
travelers at ports of entry; and 5) reforms to domestic laws in order 
to more fully comply with international instruments ratified by Costa 
Rica. 
 
Investigation and Prosecution of Traffickers 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
A. Costa Rica has not enacted any new legislation against human 
trafficking since the last TIP report.  However, the new Arias 
Administration has already proposed reforms to the immigration law 
which took effect in August 2006.  These reforms would make alien 
smuggling a crime for the first time.  The proposed reforms would also 
expand the legal definition of trafficking and improve protections for 
victims. 
 
Costa Rican law does not address internal trafficking in persons. 
However, international trafficking is proscribed in Title III and Title 
XVII of the Criminal Code.  Article 172 of Title III (enacted under Law 
7899 on 3 August 1999) forbids human trafficking and defines it as: 
?whoever promotes, facilitates or favors the entrance into or the exit 
from the country of any persons regardless of gender, for the purpose 
of engaging in prostitution, or to hold them in sexual or labor 
servitude, shall be punished with the penalty of imprisonment from 
three-to-six years.?  The penalty is increased to four?to-ten years, if 
this occurs under any aggravating circumstances (defined in Article 170 
as the victim being under age eighteen, the use of deception, violence, 
abuse of authority, exploitation of the victim?s economic situation, 
intimidation or coercion, abuse of a parental, sibling, stepparent, 
spousal, guardian or other custodial relationship, or abusing the trust 
of the victim or the victim?s family, regardless of kinship).  Under 
Article 170, the victim?s willingness to engage in prostitution is 
considered irrelevant to the offense. 
 
Title XVII deals with human rights crimes of an international nature. 
Article 374 states ?The penalty of imprisonment from ten-to-fifteen 
years shall be imposed on those who lead or are members of 
international organizations devoted to trafficking in slaves, women or 
children, drugs and narcotics, acts of extorting kidnapping or 
terrorism or infringement on provisions to protect human rights 
established in treaties signed by Costa Rica.? 
 
Article 376 refers to trafficking in minors, with imprisonment of 
two-to-four years for individuals who sell, promote, or facilitate the 
sale of a minor (for domestic service, commercial sex work, or 
adoption) and receive any type of payment, gratuity, or economic reward 
for their action.  The same sanction is applied to the individual who 
pay, reward, or otherwise remunerate with the purpose of receiving a 
minor.  If the perpetrator has a blood relationship with the minor, or 
is the minor?s guardian or custodian, or ?represents? the minor, the 
sanction is increased to four?to-six years.  The four-to-six year 
sentence is also imposed if the perpetrator is a professional or public 
employee.  The sanction against professional or public employees also 
includes a two-to-six year suspension from working in the profession or 
office held when the crime was committed. 
 
Article 377 imposes a five-to-ten year prison term on individuals who 
promote or facilitate the trafficking of children for adoption with the 
purpose of selling the child?s organs. 
 
B. As mentioned above, Article 172 is the primary law against 
trafficking of persons for sexual exploitation (three to six years 
imprisonment).  Other articles in the criminal code relating to 
trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation are as follows: Article 
167, corruption of minors or a legally incapacitated person, 
imprisonment for up to eight years; Article 168, aggravated corruption, 
imprisonment from four-to-ten years, if the victim is under age twelve, 
the act is committed for economic gain, the act is committed through 
deception, violence, abuse of authority, intimidation or coercion, or 
abuse of a familial or guardian relationship. 
 
C. Article 172 of the criminal code imposes identical penalties 
regardless of whether victims are trafficked for sexual or labor 
exploitation.  In addition and specific to labor, Article 237 of the 
criminal code imposes a penalty of up to four years for labor 
exploitation of minors or the legally incapacitated.  Furthermore, the 
Costa Rican Constitution and Labor Code prohibit forced labor and 
require a minimum wage (Articles 33 and 56 of the Constitution, 
implemented by Articles 8 and 14 of the Labor Code for forced labor and 
Article 57 of the Constitution, implemented by Article 177 of the Labor 
Code for minimum wages).  Additionally, Costa Rica assumed obligations 
against forced labor when in ratified ILO Convention 29 in 1960. 
 
The Costa Rican Criminal Code (Article 359?Forgery and False Documents 
and Article 360-General Fraud) can be used to imprison labor 
recruiters, employers, or other labor agents who knowingly engage in 
fraudulent or deceptive practices for up to six years (eight if the 
perpetrator is a public employee).  Article 193 of the criminal code 
can add two years to these sentences if coercion is used. 
 
D. Penalties for rape and sexual assault are higher than penalties for 
trafficking.  The maximum penalty for trafficking for the purpose of 
commercial sexual exploitation established in Article 172 is 
imprisonment for up to ten years; the penalty for rape is imprisonment 
for up to sixteen years (Article 156 of the criminal code), or eighteen 
years maximum for aggravated rape (Articles 157 and 158).  Article 161 
imposes a penalty of up to eight years for the sexual abuse of minors 
or the legally incapacitated, or up to ten years when the victim is 
under age twelve, incapable of resisting, or the perpetrator is a 
relative or guardian.  Actual penalties for rape range from 
ten-to-eighteen years depending on the relation of the rapist to the 
victim and the degree of harm done to the health of the victim. 
 
E. Prostitution by individuals over age eighteen is legal in Costa 
Rica; however, pimping is penalized by Article 169 of the criminal code 
with two-to-five years imprisonment.  Brothel owners and operators are 
subject to the same sanctions as pimps.  Article 170 of the same code 
defines aggravated pimping and establishes a punishment of ten years 
imprisonment.  As mentioned above, Article 170 also establishes that 
the will of the victim (i.e., the victim?s willing engagement in 
prostitution) is irrelevant to the offense of rape or aggravated 
pimping.  If the prostitute is a minor, the client is in violation of 
Article 160 which states: ?whoever pays, or promises to pay, or offers 
economic or other gain to a minor for the performance of sexual acts 
shall be punished with a penalty of four-to-ten years imprisonment if 
the victim has not attained the age of twelve years, with a penalty of 
three-to-eight years imprisonment if the victim has attained the age of 
twelve years but has not attained the age of fifteen years, or with a 
penalty of two-to-six years imprisonment if the victim has attained the 
age of fifteen years, but has not attained the age of eighteen years.? 
 
F. Official statistics on the number of investigations, prosecutions, 
and convictions on charges related to the various laws against 
trafficking in 2006 are compiled once a year by the Supreme Court and 
should be published in June ? August, 2007.  Until the statistics are 
collected and published by the Court, the only other way to collect 
complete official information is to physically visit individual courts 
to review their records?a process that is too labor intensive even for 
NGOs working this issue.  The independent Attorney General?s Office is 
extremely reluctant to provide statistics that are incomplete and will 
not discuss current cases at all with anyone who is not a party to a 
case.  Judicial authorities reported that ten trafficking cases went to 
trial in 2005, and that six convictions were handed down. 
 
Due to the complexity of the Costa Rican judicial system, we cannot 
establish how many of the six convictions were related to cases opened 
in 2005.  We know from our contacts in the judiciary that at least one 
of the 2005 convictions was related to a trafficking case opened in 
2003.  Multi-year pre-trial discovery periods are common in Costa Rica, 
especially if a case has international dimensions.  The judicial police 
have opened five investigations into international trafficking 
organizations since the August 2006 immigration law providing new legal 
tools went into effect.  Individual prosecutor?s offices opened other 
investigations on their own, but as explained above, we cannot obtain 
the statistics until they are formally published. 
 
Judicial investigators continued complex investigations of three major 
trafficking organizations that were launched in 2005.  Informally, 
these investigators have indicated to Post that their evidence in these 
investigations is nearly solid enough to completely dismantle rather 
than merely disrupt the organization?s operations.  In January 2007, 
authorities arrested eight people in connection with a Chinese ring 
that trafficked people to Costa Rica for labor exploitation.  This was 
the result of the sting operation involving the Immigration Director, 
mentioned above and described in more detail below. 
 
G. According to judicial police investigators, international groups are 
behind the large trafficking operations they are investigating.  The 
heads of these groups are foreigners who are usually not located in 
Costa Rica.  Chinese, Americans, Colombians, Cubans, and Dominicans 
have been identified as heads of distinct trafficking organizations. 
Except for the Chinese trafficking case that broke in late 2006, Post 
has no information on where profits from trafficking are being 
channeled.  In the Chinese case, at least some of the profits were 
being channeled into bribes to expand the operation.  The Chinese 
traffickers offered a $2.5 million bribe to Costa Rica?s Immigration 
Director in exchange for his assistance with 500 visas.  When the 
ringleader was arrested, authorities seized $140,000 in cash from her 
home.  The successful prosecutions Post is aware of to date in Costa 
Rica tend to involve small regional groups where the traffickers often 
work freelance and usually involve alien smuggling as well as 
trafficking.  The Chinese trafficking case breaks the mold but has not 
yet gone to trial. 
 
H. The government actively investigates cases of trafficking to the 
extent resources permit. Undercover operations, electronic 
surveillance, and mitigated punishment or immunity for cooperation 
suspects are all legally available to Costa Rican authorities.  During 
2006, Post donated hidden cameras and other investigative equipment to 
enhance anti-trafficking capabilities.  Thanks to the courage and 
honesty of Immigration Director Mario Zamora, undercover investigators 
were able to conduct a very successful investigation and disruption of 
the Chinese trafficking organization. 
 
I. The government provided specialized training, particularly to 
immigration officials, on how to recognize  trafficking.  Training was 
also provided on trafficking-related issues such as human rights, 
migration procedures, awareness of children?s rights and victim 
protection.  Several NGOs work closely with the Police Academy and 
Judicial School to provide sensitivity training for officials on 
special handling techniques for trafficking victims they may encounter. 
 Investigative and prosecutorial training is not specialized for 
trafficking. 
 
J. Costa Rican authorities cooperated with U.S. counterparts in 
trafficking investigations during the reporting period.  Post has no 
numbers on the cooperative international investigations with other 
governments specific to trafficking, but notes that the Costa Rican 
government has worked closely with neighboring governments and with 
Colombia on narcotics and extradition cases.  Post is also aware of 
close Costa Rican/Peruvian cooperation in two large alien smuggling 
cases during the reporting period. 
 
K. The government willingly extradites persons accused of trafficking 
in other countries, especially those accused of sexual crimes (as 
established in Article 6 of the Extradition Law). Costa Rica also 
cooperates actively in returning U.S. fugitives to face justice.  No 
American traffickers were extradited to the U.S. since the last TIP 
report (although individual pedophiles were extradited, see below). 
Five Americans are currently serving jail sentences in Costa Rica for 
sexual abuse involving minors.  The Costa Rican Constitution and 
Article 3 of the Extradition Law prohibit extradition of Costa Rican 
nationals to any jurisdiction.  There is no effort to modify this 
restriction. 
 
L. Post has no evidence of government involvement in or tolerance of 
trafficking, on a local or institutional level. 
 
M.  During the reporting period, no government officials were 
prosecuted for involvement in trafficking or trafficking-related 
corruption.  However, one immigration official is under preventative 
detention for irregularities in stamping passports at the Penas Blancas 
border checkpoint with Nicaragua.  Further information is unavailable 
as the investigation is ongoing and the case does not appear to be 
related to trafficking in persons. 
 
N. Costa Rican authorities have publicly identified child sex tourism 
as a problem.  However, Post does not have information on how many 
non-U.S. foreign pedophiles have been deported to their country of 
origin.  During the reporting period, ten Americans were extradited and 
two others are awaiting extradition.  Costa Rican officials identified 
the countries of origin for sex tourism as the U.S., Canada, and 
Germany.  Costa Rica?s sexual abuse laws do not have extraterritorial 
coverage. 
 
O. Costa Rica ratified the ILO Convention 182 on August 31, 2001 (Law 
8122).  ILO Convention 29 was ratified on May 26, 1960 (Law 2561).  ILO 
Convention 105 was ratified on April 17, 1959 (Law 2630).  The Optional 
Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of 
Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography was ratified April 
9, 2002 (Law 8172).  The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish 
Trafficking in Persons was ratified on November 4, 2002 (Law 8315). 
 
Protection and Assistance to Victims 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
A. The Costa Rican Government's efforts to protect trafficking victims 
remained limited during the reporting period, due to the lack of 
resources.  However, the Chief Prosecutor?s Office has a section that 
can assist trafficking victims if they wish to press charges.  There 
are no specialized shelters for trafficking victims.  By law, underage 
trafficking victims cannot be deported.  The Children?s Welfare 
Institute does have general shelters in which it can temporarily place 
trafficking victims who are minors, but lacks the budget and personnel 
to create a specialized center to attend to the needs of young victims. 
 
The police formally coordinate with the Chief Prosecutor?s office on 
sex crimes in order to assist trafficking victims with hospitalization 
(when needed) and to provide legal representation.  The police can 
provide limited protection to key witnesses in trafficking cases, but 
the government lacks a formal witness protection program.  Identified 
trafficking victims did not face jail, but officials treated some adult 
victims as illegal migrants and deported them. Foreign nationals 
identified as trafficking victims could seek repatriation; 
alternatively, they could apply for work permits or refugee status. 
Most protective services were severely lacking. 
 
The government operated no shelters or health care facilities 
designated for trafficking victims. In mid 2006, a migrants? shelter 
was inaugurated in a San Jose suburb for people waiting to be deported. 
 Officials used no standard referral process to transfer trafficking 
victims to NGOs and the government lacked the capacity to fund NGOs 
that assisted trafficking victims. The government collaborated with a 
project for victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation which is run 
by two NGOs.  The project (see paragraph I below) is located in the 
Pacific coast town of Jaco, a known center of sexual tourism. 
 
B. The government is unable to provide funding or other support to NGOs 
for services to trafficking victims beyond the standard emergency 
services available to anyone. 
 
C. Immigration officials use a manual developed by the IOM and in use 
throughout Central America to identify and properly respond to victims 
of trafficking, particularly if the victim is a minor.  The government 
lacks a formal screening or referral process to transfer detained 
victims to NGOs or other organizations that could provide short- or 
long-term care.  However, on an informal level many officials have good 
contacts with NGOs. 
 
D. The rights of trafficking victims are respected in general.  They 
are treated as victims, not criminals. Several NGOs work with victims 
to help them overcome fears of cooperating with authorities, and to 
that end prosecutors will take the victim?s statements at the NGO?s 
offices.  To the extent that adult trafficking victims can be confused 
with illegal aliens, however, they can sometimes be summarily deported. 
 In no case are they prosecuted or fined. 
 
E. The government encourages victims to assist in the investigation and 
prosecution of trafficking cases.  Victims can file civil suits against 
their traffickers.  Victims may remain in Costa Rica, but are also 
allowed to leave.  If they wish to remain, they may apply for work 
permits.  Some nationalities, such as Colombians and Cubans, can easily 
receive refugee status. 
 
F. As noted in paragraph A above, the government is only able to 
provide standard emergency medical services and limited police 
protection to key trafficking witnesses.  It is unable to provide 
shelters, services, or housing benefits to adult victims but can 
provide legal assistance and work permits.  Informally, officials help 
victims to contact NGO?s who can offer more assistance.  Child victims 
are placed in general children?s shelters, not in foster care or 
juvenile detention centers. 
 
G. A training manual was produced and distributed to all Costa Rican 
diplomatic missions to provide information on combating trafficking in 
minors.  According to the MFA, individual Costa Ricans in some source 
countries have worked closely with NGOs in those countries to counter 
document fraud associated with trafficking in persons.  In response to 
the August 2006 alien smuggling law, the ILO and Costa Rican 
Immigration expanded a training program for border officials includes 
instruction on how to help prevent trafficking.  The training stresses 
differences between alien smuggling and trafficking; the responsibility 
of immigration officials to prevent, detect, and report cases of 
smuggling and trafficking, and the official?s obligations to protect 
victims of trafficking. 
 
H. Post is not aware of any government support for repatriated Costa 
Ricans who are victims of trafficking. 
 
I. International organizations working with trafficking victims in 
Costa Rica include the IOM and the ILO.  International NGOs working 
with trafficking victims include World Vision, Defense of Children 
International, t