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Viewing cable 08SANJOSE911, COSTA RICA: TIP WATCH LIST INTERIM ASSESSMENT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08SANJOSE911 2008-11-21 21:09 2011-03-08 16:04 UNCLASSIFIED 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/NotaPrincipal/Investigacion2702324.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702325.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702326.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702327.aspx
VZCZCXYZ0003
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0911/01 3262139
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 212139Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0293
UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000911 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN and G/TIP BFleck 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KTIP KCRM KWMN SMIG CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: TIP WATCH LIST INTERIM ASSESSMENT 
 
REF:  A) STATE 111306 B) STATE 93829 
 
------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1. The 2008 TIP Tier Two Watchlist downgrade succeeded as a wake-up 
call for the GOCR's anti-TIP National Coalition (officially the 
National Coalition against Smuggling of Migrants and Trafficking in 
Persons), headed by Vice Minister of Public Security and Governance 
Ana Duran.  The GOCR made significant progress since April toward 
prevention, prosecution, and protection of victims, mainly through 
the work of the Coalition.  The GOCR's progress included:  first 
vote on a proposed amendment to the Penal Code to make internal 
trafficking a crime; investigation of six possible trafficking 
cases; creation of a TIP route mapping for 2008 with Save the 
Children to enhance understanding of the problem and to compile TIP 
data; dedication of $100,000 in budgetary resources to the National 
Coalition; launch of a major media awareness campaign with UNICEF; 
development of an inter-institutional protocol for identifying and 
coordinating immediate assistance to potential victims; and training 
for 547 police, immigration and health officials.  The GOCR also 
hosted a regional conference of anti-TIP national coalitions, and 
the NGO Foundation PANIAMOR was key in implementing implementation 
of an information system designed to help Prosecutor's Offices 
collect data on child sexual exploitation and trafficking to help 
with building cases.  Sections below are keyed to Ref A. 
 
END SUMMARY. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
A. AMENDING LAWS TO CRIMINALIZE, PUNISH TIP 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
2. The National Coalition's Subcommittee on Prosecution, with the 
aid of an International Organization for Migration consultant, 
drafted substitute text to amend the Penal Code to criminalize 
internal (domestic) trafficking, in accordance with the Palermo 
Protocol, and to increase penalties for traffickers to a base of 6 
to 10 years rising to 8 to 16 years under seven aggravating 
conditions. The aggravating conditions are:  1) victim is a minor, 
2) violence, deception, intimidation or coercion is used, 3) the 
perpetrator is a spouse, relative or lives with the victim, 4) the 
perpetrator exploits a position of authority or trust, 5) the 
perpetrator takes advantage of his/her profession or occupation, 6) 
victim suffers grave harm, 7) the punishable act was committed by 
two or more people.  The substitute statute would apply regardless 
of victim consent.  (NOTE: G/TIP's Barbara Fleck has full text of 
proposed changes.) 
 
3. This proposed substitute text for Article 172 of the Penal Code 
was approved by the National Assembly's Special Public Security 
Committee in October and was incorporated as an amendment to Article 
19 of the "Bill to Strengthen Public Security" (No. 16.973, which 
addresses victims' and witness protection.)  That bill is slated for 
plenary debate and could be taken up as early as this month or 
December by the full Assembly. 
 
4. In addition to reforming the Penal Code, the Coalition advised 
the Special Public Security Committee regarding TIP victims' 
protection under Bill 16.973, above.  The Coalition provided input 
to ensure that the language in the bill included: 1) identification 
of victims of trafficking, 2) measures to assist the victims, 3) 
comprehensive protection measures, 4) inclusion of obstruction of 
justice or coercion in the definition, and 5) victims not being 
penalized for unlawful acts committed as a result of their being 
trafficked (using false documents or being penalized as illegal 
immigrants). 
 
5. Lastly, the Coalition insisted that TIP be linked to organized 
crime in a parallel anti-crime bill which is also before the 
National Assembly.  This would allow all enforcement and 
investigative measures available to the judiciary, police and 
prosecutors for organized crime to be applied to TIP cases, 
including wiretapping, procedural measures, and an increased statute 
of limitations.  Post will continue to monitor developments as these 
bills move through the Legislature. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
B. INCREASING LAW ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS 
-------------------------------------- 
 
6. The above-mentioned legislative changes, once enacted, will 
increase law enforcement's ability to investigate, prosecute, 
convict and sentence traffickers. Also, in May, the federal judicial 
police (OIJ, Spanish acronym) formalized the creation of a 
Trafficking Unit. While the Unit does not have its own budget and 
still reports to the "Kidnapping" Subdivision of the "Miscellaneous 
Crimes" Division, the office now has its own dedicated space, four 
agents, and an office director focused on TIP.  The Unit received 
specialized TIP training from UNICEF in 2008.  The Unit's 
investigative authority is somewhat hampered by organizational 
structure and reporting lines, but the Unit is working around that 
obstacle in at least one case by including an agent from the Sex 
Crimes Unit in the investigation.  Since May, the Unit has begun 
investigations in three potential TIP cases, and the Fuerza Pblica 
police sent three more potential cases to the Unit for investigative 
follow up in November. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
C. IMPROVING GATHERING OF LAW ENFORCEMENT DATA 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
7. Trafficking activities have sometimes been classified and tried 
as lesser crimes, such as pimping or sexual exploitation, due 
largely to the lack of updated TIP statutes in the country.  While 
the above-mentioned legislative changes will enhance the GOCR's 
ability to investigate and prosecute traffickers, this in turn will 
facilitate compilation of TIP law enforcement data.  Currently, the 
National Institute for Children (PANI, Spanish acronym) gathers some 
data from the 911 emergency line. 
 
8. In the meantime, the National Coalition, working with Save the 
Children and the non-profit PANIAMOR Foundation, undertook in 2008 
the Fourth Geographical and Social Mapping of Trafficking of 
Children and Adolescents for Costa Rica.  The purpose of defining 
trafficking routes is to better identify:  TIP cases, where they 
occur, major internal and international TIP routes, and the factors 
that give rise to or facilitate TIP activities along those routes. 
Using special software that permits locating compiled information on 
a map, the Mapping project will help systemize data that is not 
found through formal channels but can shape and focus prevention 
programs. 
 
9. In November, the Coalition trained 10 Ministry of Public Security 
officials to serve as the primary contacts for receiving and feeding 
new information into the Mapping database.  The Coalition has 
planned two bilateral workshops with Panama and with Nicaragua to 
train border agents (police and immigration officials) about the 
system in order to maximize data collection. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
D. DEDICATING MORE GOVERNMENT RESOURCES 
---------------------------------------- 
 
10. For the first time, the GOCR dedicated the equivalent of 
$100,000 of its 2008 budget, earmarked for the National Coalition, 
to fight trafficking in persons.  To date, the funds have been used 
for training, for developing an inter-institutional victims' 
assistance protocol, and for the launch of the media awareness 
campaign.  In addition, the government agency PANI spent $25,000 of 
its funds on the media campaign for ad placement. 
 
11. The regional media campaign, entitled "No te Dejes Engaar," was 
developed by UNICEF (with INL 2006 funding). UNICEF, the National 
Coalition, and PANI, launched the campaign in Costa Rica in October, 
along with support from the AmNet cable TV network.  The campaign 
includes TV ads, radio spots, training materials for police, parents 
and teachers, and informative age-appropriate educational materials 
geared toward adolescents. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
E. DEVELOPING PROCEDURES TO IDENTIY (AND ASSIST) VICTIMS 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
12. Recognizing the need for an inter-institutional, integrated 
response to protect and assist victims, the Coalition's Subcommittee 
on Protection developed a protocol for immediate victim assistance 
("Modelo de Atencisn Inmediata"), which seeks to identify whether a 
person is a TIP victim and to mobilize support for him/her 
immediately upon the first encounter with the victim (by Immigration 
police, for example), or upon receiving a "denuncia" (tip) about a 
potential victim.  The protocol, to be implemented by Executive 
Order, defines steps that governmental institutions will take to 
detect, identify, protect and provide integrated assistance (medical 
treatment, physical security, psychological assistance, etc.) to a 
victim, with an aim of avoiding "revictimization."  It takes into 
account human rights principles, individual attention, internal and 
international trafficking, and it promotes an integrated response. 
(NOTE: G/TIP's Barbara Fleck has a copy of the complete protocol.) 
 
13. Interestingly, the Immediate Attention protocol calls for a 
designated person from each of five Executive Branch agencies and 
two Judicial Branch agencies to be assigned to be on call for the 
Immediate Attention Team and to be given necessary resources to 
fulfill their duties on a 24/7 basis -- including computer access or 
a laptop, pager or cell phone, overtime pay, security, and access to 
transportation if necessary.  The protocol also invites the 
participation of the International Organization for Migration, the 
UN Human Rights Commission, and the International Labor Organization 
throughout the process.  PANI, incidentally, developed its own 
protocol to provide assistance to victims that may be identified as 
a result of the "No te Dejes Engaar" media campaign and is merging 
its internal protocol with the Coalition's. 
 
14. SHELTERS:  The protocol notes access to adequate shelters as an 
important need.  Though the government provided shelter and 
integrated services to at least two trafficking victims in 2008 at 
the National Institute for Women (INAMU) shelter, the Coalition 
recognizes that the security situation at both INAMU and PANI 
(children's) shelters is not well-suited to protecting victims of 
organized crime.  Currently, the only shelter alternative for adult 
males is the Immigration deportation holding facility, which the 
Coalition knows is not ideal.  The Coalition's Protection 
Subcommittee is studying ways to solve the shelter problem.  In the 
meantime, the above shelter alternatives will have to continue to be 
utilized on a case-by-case basis. 
 
15. It should be noted that the Bill to Strengthen Public Security 
will revamp crime victims' assistance in the country.  The major 
responsibility for victims' assistance will then most likely fall to 
the Judicial Branch, rather than the Executive Branch, where the 
Coalition is housed.  Therefore, the Immediate Attention protocol 
may be replaced by a new mechanism in the future. 
 
16. Finally, the Immigration Directorate is in the final clearance 
process for a new Administrative Manual for its detention center. 
The manual emphasizes human rights of detainees and measures to 
guarantee protection of trafficking or smuggling victims that may be 
identified in the center. 
 
------------------------------ 
F. INCREASE ANTI-TIP TRAINING 
------------------------------ 
 
17. From April to November 2008, the Ministry of Public Security 
and/or the Directorate of Immigration, led by the National 
Coalition, trained or sensitized 547 police officers, immigration 
officials, immigration police officers, OIJ officers, and national 
health system workers. Eighty percent of those were police officers 
from around the country.  The government distinguishes between 
sensitivity training of eight hours or less (provided to 325 
officials) and "training" of 16 hours or more (provided to 222 
officials). 
 
18. Additionally, UNICEF joined with the above government 
institutions, using educational materials developed in conjunction 
with the "No te Dejes Engaar" campaign, to train 50 community 
police officers and police instructors following a "train the 
trainer" approach.  The TIP theme was thus included in the National 
Police Academy curriculum in 2008, and TIP training will become a 
formal part of the Academy curriculum starting in 2009. 
 
19. In August, the Ministry of Public Security held two joint 
training activities for Costa Rican and Nicaraguan police officers 
to improve bilateral institutional coordination. 
 
------------------------------- 
OTHER SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS 
------------------------------- 
 
20. REGULATIONS: Also in the final clearance process for printing in 
the Immigration Directorate is a new Regulation for Authorization of 
Permission to Exit the Country for Minors.  The new regulation was 
developed to compensate for deficiencies in the current legislation. 
 The regulation is designed to prevent crimes such as TIP and sexual 
exploitation of both Costa Rican and foreign children and 
adolescents. 
 
21. REGIONAL CONFERENCE: In keeping with G/TIP's Recommended 
Long-Term Action Plan (Ref B) calling for more regional cooperative 
efforts, the GOCR hosted a regional conference of national anti-TIP 
Coalitions from November 10-12.  Representatives attended from 
Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama and the 
Dominican Republic.  The International Organization for Migration 
and the International Labor Organization made presentations 
regarding international agencies and resources fighting TIP, and 
country delegations gave "best practices" presentations regarding 
their respective efforts. 
 
22. INFORMATION SYSTEMS: In April 2008, the local NGO Foundation 
PANIAMOR, with the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research 
Institute (UNICRI) and support from the Italian government, 
implemented the SISCESCO operational information system, a 
user-friendly tool for data collection that can help prosecutor's 
offices build stronger cases against those who sexually exploit and 
improve their investigative skills and strategies.  The system can 
also help the Attorney General develop policies to prosecute these 
crimes.  The system aims to collect and provide data on exploitation 
and trafficking to identify patterns, create profiles of offenders, 
help determine human resource and budgetary needs to work cases, 
determine average time from complaint to case resolution, and more. 
 
 
-------- 
COMMENT 
-------- 
 
23. The National Coalition -- the GOCR's official platform for 
addressing TIP issues -- definitely has an in-depth knowledge and 
understanding of the problem and challenges that TIP poses in Costa 
Rica, and its members are working fervently to make a difference. 
While prosecutions still lag, updates to the Penal Code, increased 
training, and a more focused TIP Unit in the OIJ should bring more 
cases to investigation, and eventually to trial.  Post will continue 
to monitor developments that may occur in the next few weeks and 
will update G/TIP as quickly as possible to be incorporated in 
January's Interim Report. 
 
CIANCHETTE