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06SANJOSE481 2006-03-02 14:45:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy San Jose
Cable title:  

COSTA RICA 2005 TIP REPORT

Tags:   PHUM KCRM SMIG KFRD ASEC PREF ELAB CS 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  					
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 SAN JOSE 000481

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM, IWI, WHA/PPC, AND
WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KCRM SMIG KFRD ASEC PREF ELAB CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA 2005 TIP REPORT

REF: STATE 3836

The following is Embassy San Jose's submission for the 2005
annual anti-trafficking in persons (TIP) report. Responses
are keyed to checklist questions outlined in reftel,
beginning at paragraph 21. Post's POC for the report is
Political Officer Robert Copley. Telephone number: (506)
519-2253. Fax: (506) 519-2364. Total number of hours spent
in preparing the TIP report: Poloff Copley: 45, Political
Assistant Hellen Sanou: 20, Political Counselor: 1, Consular:
1, RSO: 1, DCM: 2.



--------------------------


OVERVIEW


--------------------------


21A. Costa Rica is a country mainly of transit, destination
and, to a much lesser degree, origin for internationally
trafficked men, women, and children. Specific numbers for
each population are unavailable, but government and
non-government sources agree that women and children
constitute the majority of trafficking victims who pass
through Costa Rica. Trafficking also occurs within the
country's borders. There are currently no comprehensive
estimates as to the extent of the problem. Post is aware of
a recent G/TIP-funded study by Johns Hopkins University to
assess the potential scope of the trafficking problem in
Costa Rica. The Ministry of Public Security noted that the
number of raids in connection with sexual exploitation crimes
nearly doubled last year in relation to 2004, which was
double the rate for 2003.

Sources of information for this report include the Chief
Prosecutor's Office, the Migration Department, the Public
Security Ministry, the Women's Ministry, the Children's
Welfare Institution (PANI), the Judicial Investigative Police
(OIJ), the OIJ's special trafficking crimes investigative
unit, the Legislative Assembly, the International
Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Labor
Organization (ILO), the United Nations' Children's Fund
(UNICEF), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) Save the
Children Sweden, Defense of Children International, Paniamor,
Alianza Por Tus Derechos, Fundacion Rahab, and the press.
Women and children are the most at risk of being trafficked.

21B. Persons continued to be trafficked to and through Costa
Rica from all over the world during 2005. Police and NGOs
reported that main source countries include the Dominican
Republic, Colombia, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Ecuador, Cuba,
Peru, Russia, China, and the Philippines. Governmental and
nongovernmental sources agree that individuals are trafficked
internationally mainly to the United States, Canada, Mexico,
and Europe. Investigators from the OIJ's trafficking crimes
unit said that internal trafficking victims are generally
moved from one location to another. IOM continues to report
indications of trafficked Russian women in the southern
Golfito area. IOM also reported that Dominican women are
flown to Panama, and then brought illegally overland into
Costa Rica to dance in nightclubs. Once in Costa Rica, they
are forced to engage in commercial sex work. Victims are
threatened with physical harm if they do not comply with the
traffickers' demands, and the traffickers may also threaten
to harm the victims' families. The victims' travel documents
are routinely seized, and debt bondage is common.

NGO Paniamor reported 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 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. Defense of Children International
reported that advertisements via internet and newspapers for
hotel staff and models are used to lure females. The Public
Security Ministry reported cases of young Costa Rican women
who were lured overseas by false employment offers promising
a USD 1,500 weekly salary in addition to paid housing.
Immigration officials reported a substantial increase in 2005
in the number of apparently poor young women traveling for
the first time and alone to destinations such as Japan,
Europe, and Canada. These young women believe they have good
jobs waiting for them and appear to have been well briefed on
what to say to immigration officers.

Individuals are also trafficked internally in Costa Rica.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, people from
poor outlying areas are trafficked to the capital of San
Jose. People are also trafficked from the capital to the
high-tourism areas, such as the Pacific coastal areas of
Guanacaste Province and the Caribbean port of Limon.

The GOCR continued to demonstrate political will and to make
progress, within its limited resources, against trafficking
during 2005. The GOCR has particularly targeted child sexual
exploitation.

21C. Lack of resources, particularly funding for police,
prosecutors, and shelters for victims severely hampered
government efforts to fight trafficking in 2005. The police,
judicial investigators, and prosecutors all reported that
lack of human and financial resources limited their ability
to conduct investigations, carry out undercover operations,
acquire technology, and pay informants. The Children's
Welfare Institution (PANI) lacks resources to maintain the
number of shelters needed to accommodate trafficking and
commercial sexual exploitation victims who are minors. There
are no shelters specifically for trafficking victims. Save
the Children, Defense of Children International, IOM, and ILO
all reported that the government lacks the resources to
provide victims with rehabilitation services. There is no
systematized operation to provide assistance to foreign
victims waiting to be repatriated. There are some
indications of minor corruption at the local level.

21D. The GOCR does not systematically monitor its anti-TIP
efforts. Individual units keep internal statistics but in
differing formats, even within the same institution.
Trafficking information is shared informally during regular
meetings of a national-level committee comprised of
government officials and NGOs--the National Commission
Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Minors (CONACOES).

Prevention


--------------------------


22A. The GOCR acknowledges that trafficking is a problem in
Costa Rica, especially sexual exploitation of minors. There
is some confusion, however, among some government officials
about the differences between trafficking, alien smuggling,
and commercial sexual exploitation. Some officials use the
terms interchangeably. As mentioned above, the majority of
efforts and resources in Costa Rica are focused on commercial
sexual exploitation of minors.

22B. Government agencies involved in anti-trafficking
efforts include the Ministry of Public Security, the
Migration Department, the Children's Welfare Institution
(PANI), Judicial Investigative Police (OIJ), the Office of
the Chief Prosecutor, and the Ombudsman's Office. No agency
has the lead, but the investigative, prosecutorial, and
judiciary authorities are all part of the independent
judicial branch of the Costa Rican Government. As mentioned
in 21D above, trafficking activities are informally
coordinated through CONACOES. A sub-committee of CONACOES,
called the Coalition Against Trafficking was formed in
November 2005 to create a more agile working group among the
ministries and NGOs that most directly cooperate against
trafficking. The coalition is chaired by the Minister of
Public Security.

22C. The Migration Department continued a national public
information campaign, launched in 2004, and designed to deter
tourists who might be interested in sexual tourism. The
campaign included posters in airports and placing inserts in
immigration documents that warned incoming tourists of the
criminal sanctions against sexual exploitation of minors.
There are also billboards along the routes to major beach
hotels. In December 2005, PANI implemented a national
information campaign in conjunction with Microsoft to help
school children navigate safely on the Internet. On February
15, 2006, the GOCR launched a series of TV, radio, and
billboard ads warning young women of the dangers of
commercial sexual exploitation. The ads feature adolescent
girls encouraging other girls to reject money or gifts in
exchange for travel that could result in sexual exploitation.
The ads were designed and financed in cooperation with
several international NGO,s, UNICRI, and the Italian
government.

22D. IOM and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that
the GOCR has programs that indirectly help to prevent
trafficking. For example, the Women's Ministry has programs
that support the role of a mother in ensuring her children
remain in school, programs to support adolescent mothers; and
programs to involve women in micro-enterprise. The Ministry
also provides school vouchers and scholarships to help offset
education costs that can be prohibitive to low-income
families.

22F. Aside from regular CONACOES meetings, there is no
formal mechanism to coordinate communication between agencies
involved in combating trafficking. Due to Costa Rica,s
small size, all members of the anti-trafficking community are
well and personally known to each other. Professional
jealousies and bureaucratic turf battles occasionally limit
effective use of the GOCR,s already-limited resources.

22G. The GOCR monitors migratory movements of people for
evidence of trafficking patterns. Immigration officials at
the airports, for example, detected and reported a
substantial increase in 2005 in the number of apparently poor
young women traveling for the first time and alone to
destinations such as Japan, Europe, and Canada. Porous land
borders with neighboring Nicaragua and Panama are impossible
to effectively monitor for trafficking of all kinds.
Immigration officials and NGOs reported female minors aged
12-18 continue to be trafficked, even through formal border
checkpoints, in tractor-trailer trucks. Some of these minors
are recruited; others look for rides themselves.

22H. As mentioned in 22F above, there is no mechanism for
coordination and communication aside from CONACOES, which
functions as an informal clearinghouse for information based
on the personal relationships among its members.
Internationally, the Ministry of Public Security cooperates
with other countries' migration departments, Interpol, and
the FBI to identify and detain suspected traffickers. The
GOCR also participates in the Commission of Central American
Migration Directors (OCAM), which includes trafficking in its
general work plan, and the Regional Conference on Migration
(CRM). The GOCR does not have a TIP task force, but a
two-year G/TIP-financed program of joint training and
equipment donations has improved inter-agency cooperation.
The GOCR has a public corruption task force, which is located
in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General for Ethics.

22J. The GOCR does not have a national action plan to
address trafficking in persons. The National Child and
Adolescence Plan refers to prevention of trafficking and
protection of victims.

Investigation and Prosecution of Traffickers


--------------------------


23A-B. In November 2005, the Legislative Assembly ratified a
long-awaited reform to Costa Rica,s immigration law. The
new law, which will enter into force in August 2006, makes
alien smuggling a crime for the first time. Costa Rica still
does not have a specific law prohibiting trafficking in
persons. However, trafficking is proscribed in Title III
(known as the Law Against Sexual Exploitation of Minors) and
Title XVII (which deals with human rights crimes of an
international nature) of the Criminal Code. Articles 156 to
163 of Title III were revised in August 1999 to include
sexual crimes against minors. The reforms broadened the
situations and conditions under which such crimes are
penalized. Lack of a specific law against trafficking makes
keeping uniform statistics extremely difficult since not all
forms of trafficking are covered under these statutes and not
all crimes charged under these statutes constitute
trafficking.

Article 169, which criminalizes pimping, states: "Anyone who
promotes the prostitution of persons of any gender, maintains
them in prostitution, induces them to practice prostitution,
or recruits them for this purpose will be sanctioned with a
prison term of two to five years. The same sentence will be
imposed for those who maintain a person in sexual servitude."
Article 170 criminalizes aggravated pimping with a 4-10 year
prison term as the penalty for individuals who: pimp minors
under 18 years of age; use deceit, violence, abuse of
authority, or exploitation of a victim's economic situation;
use any means of intimidation or coercion; have a sibling or
blood relationship or have a custodial relationship or has a
tutor/teacher relationship; or have a relationship of
confidence with the victim or the family, regardless of
kinship. Under Article 170, the will of the victim (i.e.,
the victim's consent to engage in prostitution) is considered
irrelevant to the offense.

Article 172 deals with international trafficking in persons.
It says: "Anyone who promotes, facilitates, or favors the
entrance or exit from Costa Rica of persons of any gender so
that they may practice prostitution or in order to maintain
them in sexual or labor servitude will be sanctioned with a
prison term of three to six years." The sentence will be
4-10 years if it involves any aggravating factor enumerated
under Article 170 on aggravated pimping (if the victim is a
minor, for instance).

Under Title XVII of the Criminal Code on crimes against human
rights, Articles 374, 376, and 377 have to do with
trafficking. Article 374 covers "crimes of an international
character." It states that a prison term of 10-15 years will
be imposed upon persons who run or form part of an
organization of an international character dedicated to
trafficking slaves, women or children, narcotics, or that
carries out acts of terrorism or infringes upon regulations
envisaged in treaties subscribed to by Costa Rica to protect
human rights.

Article 376 establishes a prison sentence of 2-4 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 individuals who pay, give a reward, or otherwise
remunerate with the purpose of receiving a minor. If the
perpetrator of the crime has a blood relationship with the
minor, or is the minor's guardian or custodian, or
"represents" the minor, the sanction is increased to 4-6
years. The same sentence of 4-6 years is imposed if the
perpetrator who sells, promotes, facilitates, or legitimizes
in any way the act of the sale of a minor is a professional
or public employee. The sanction against professional and
public employees also includes a 2-6 year suspension from
working in the profession or office they held when they
committed the crime.

Article 377 imposes a 5-10 prison term on individuals who
promote or facilitate the trafficking of children for
adoption with the purpose of selling the child's organs.

These laws are currently being used in trafficking cases.
Investigators in the OIJ's special trafficking crimes unit, a
juvenile court judge, ILO, IOM, and representatives from
several NGOs reported to Poloff that the current legislation
is not adequate to cover the full scope of trafficking in
persons. The investigators lamented the difficulty of
prosecuting cases under the current legislation. IOM and ILO
both commented on loopholes in the law. For example, current
legislation only penalizes sexual and labor exploitation if
the victims have crossed an international border. There is
no law against internal (within the borders of Costa Rica)
trafficking. CONACOES presented several legal reforms to
better define trafficking and to expand the definition in
order to criminalize internal trafficking in 2005. The
proposed reforms were incorporated into a single bill (Number
14,578) which received unanimous support in the Judicial
Committee and now awaits discussion in the plenary.

23C. The penalty for rape ranges from 10-18 years, depending
on the relation of the rapist to the victim and the degree of
harm done to the health of the victim.

23D. Prostitution for individuals over the age of 18 in
Costa Rica is legal. In August 2005, the coordinator for HIV
programs at the Costa Rican Social Security Institute (CCSS)
estimated the number of female prostitutes in Costa Rica at
8,750, based on surveys of the 2,700 female prostitutes who
sought medical treatment at CCSS facilities during 2004.
According to this estimate, 40 percent of these women are not
Costa Rican (20 percent Nicaraguan, 10 percent Dominican, 6
percent Colombian, and 4 percent other). Pimping is a crime
punishable by two to five years in prison. Brothel owners
and operators are subject to the same sanctions as pimps.
See Article 169 and Article 170 in section 22A-B above
(sanctions range from two to ten years in prison). NGOs
agree that laws against brothel owners and pimps are
insufficiently enforced. The Ministry of Public Security
increased the number of raids it carried out on brothels
during 2005.

23E. It is difficult to collect significant statistics on
the GOCR,s efforts against traffickers. The best measures,
given the GOCR,s own emphasis on child sexual exploitation,
are cases involving paid sex with children. This is an
incomplete measure involving only one aspect of trafficking,
but the statistic is uniformly reported by the Supreme Court,
allowing year-on-year comparisons. Without a specific law
against trafficking, more comprehensive analysis would
require physical visits to each court,s jurisdiction to
review sentences in individual cases. This is prohibitively
labor-intensive, even for NGOs.

The Chief Prosecutor,s Office, which has its own child
sexual exploitation unit, reported 37 investigations during
2005 involving one of the trafficking laws described in
question 23 A-B above. At least one of these investigations
has resulted in formal trafficking charges. No further
information is available, as these cases remain under
investigation. According to statistics published by the
Supreme Court, 19 cases involving paid sex with minors were
investigated by the OIJ trafficking unit during the first 9
months of 2005 for which statistics are available. In all of
2004, prosecutors opened 18 trafficking investigations and
obtained convictions in two cases. The Supreme Court will
publish final statistics for 2005 in the May-June, 2006
timeframe. At that time, we will also have statistics on the
number of 2005 convictions under trafficking laws. The only
way to get information on the length of actual sentences is,
as mentioned above, to visit individual courts.

The Child Sexual Exploitation unit of the Ministry of Public
Security (police) carried out 59 raids on establishments
where child sexual exploitation was suspected in 2005. This
is nearly double the 30 raids carried out in 2004. The unit
also located and re-arrested 41 convicted pedophiles or
repeat rapists who, for a multitude of reasons, were not
serving their jail terms. The three-person OIJ special
investigative unit that focuses exclusively on trafficking
told us it is conducting a delicate investigation of a Costa
Rican official allegedly involved in internal trafficking of
minors for sexual exploitation.

23F. According to the OIJ trafficking unit, international
groups are behind the trafficking operations they are
investigating. The heads of the operations are foreigners,
who may or may not be physically located in Costa Rica.
Uruguayans, Cubans, Dominicans, Colombians, Americans, and
Chinese have been identified as heads of trafficking
operations. The investigators reported that traffickers
often use banks and money exchange centers as part of their
operation. NGO Fundacion Rahab reported that traffickers
also operate under the guise of travel companies and
matrimonial agencies. The Chief Prosecutor's Office reported
that some traffickers work freelance and are often also
involved in alien smuggling. The successful prosecutions
Post is aware of involve small local or regional groups.
Post has no reports on where profits from trafficking in
persons are being channeled.

23G. The GOCR actively investigates cases of trafficking to
the extent financial and personnel resources permit.
Undercover operations, electronic surveillance, and mitigated
punishment or immunity for cooperating suspects are all
legally available to the GOCR. Investigators outside of the
capital received training and equipment donations from the
Embassy in 2005 in order to enhance their ability to conduct
investigations. OIJ investigators in the capital possess
some training and equipment but are only able to conduct
sporadic operations in the provinces.

23H. The GOCR provides specialized training, particularly to
immigration officials, on recognition of trafficking.
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.

23I. The GOCR cooperates closely with the U.S. government on
investigations and prosecutions of trafficking cases. Post
is also aware of an ongoing trafficking case in which Costa
Rican and Nicaraguan prosecutors are cooperating closely to
collect evidence concerning numerous Nicaraguan minors who
were trafficked to Costa Rica during 2005.

23J. The GOCR willingly extradites persons who are charged
with trafficking to other countries and cooperates very
actively in returning U.S. fugitives. Post is unaware of any
U.S. traffickers being located in or extradited from Costa
Rica in 2005. Five American Citizens are currently serving
jail sentences in Costa Rica for sexual abuse involving
minors. Two others were deported to the United States to
face sex abuse charges during 2005. The Costa Rican
Constitution prohibits extradition of Costa Rican nationals
to any jurisdiction; there is no effort to modify this
restriction.

23K. NGO,s have reported indications of low-level
tolerance/involvement of trafficking by immigration officials
at border checkpoints. These accounts often consist of
border guards accepting sexual favors from trafficking
victims in exchange for allowing them to enter Costa Rica
without proper documents. Media accounts confirm various
kinds of low-level official corruption at the borders. The
ongoing OIJ investigation mentioned in paragraph 23E also
involves a Costa Rican official.

23L. To Post,s knowledge, no Costa Rican official has been
prosecuted for trafficking.

23M. Post does not have information on the number of foreign
pedophiles the GOCR has prosecuted or deported to their
country of origin. Costa Rica's child sexual abuse laws do
not have a specific provision for extraterritorial coverage.

23N. ILO Convention 182 was signed by the GOCR on August 17,
2001 and ratified on August 31, 2001. ILO Convention 29 was
ratified on May 26, 1960. ILO Convention 105 was ratified on
April 17, 1959. The Optional Protocol to the Convention of
the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child
Prostitution, and Child Pornography was signed on September
7, 2000 and ratified on February 11, 2002. The Protocol to
Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons was
signed on March 16, 2001 and ratified on November 4, 2002.

Protection and Assistance to Victims


--------------------------


24A. The Chief Prosecutor's Office has a victims assistance
office that trafficking victims can appeal to if they choose
to press charges against their trafficker. There is no
specialized shelter for trafficking victims. The GOCR does
not have trafficking victim care or victim health care
facilities. By law, minor victims who are illegally in the
country cannot be deported. The Children's Welfare
Institution does have general shelters in which it can
temporarily place trafficking victims who are minors. The
Ministry of Public Security has established coordination with
the Chief Prosecutor's office on sex crimes in order to
assist trafficking victims with hospitalization (when needed)
and legal representation. The Public Security Ministry can
provide protection to key witnesses in trafficking cases, but
the GOCR lacks a formal witness protection program.
According to the Ministry, the GOCR provides economic
assistance for two months in addition to a one-time payment
of approximately USD 27. The Children's Welfare Institution
lacks the budget and personnel to create a specialized center
to attend to the needs of young victims.

24B. The GOCR is unable to provide funding or other support
to NGOs for services to victims. With its current budget,
the GOCR is unable to maintain critical infrastructure such
as schools, roads, and hospitals. It simply does not have
funding to provide services to trafficking victims beyond the
standard emergency services available to anyone.

24C. According to the OIJ trafficking unit, there is no
screening or referral process in place to transfer detained
victims to NGOs that can provide short- or long-term care.
The Public Security Ministry reported that there is a
procedure in place to provide assistance and ensure
repatriation of victims. The Ministry is working with the
IOM and the Children,s Welfare Institution to develop an
inter-institutional protocol for the handling and
repatriation of child trafficking victims.

24D. ILO reported that trafficking victims who are minors
are treated as victims and not as criminals, since the legal
code on children and adolescents clearly indicates that all
such minors are victims. NGO Fundacion Rahab reported that
it works with victims to help them overcome fears of
cooperating with authorities, and to that end prosecutors
take the victims' statements at the NGO's offices. To the
extent that adult trafficking victims are confused with
illegal aliens, however, they are sometimes treated as
criminals and summarily deported. In no case are they
prosecuted or fined.

24E. The Ministry of Public Security reported that the GOCR
encourages victims to assist in the investigation and
prosecution of trafficking. 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.

24F. The Children's Welfare Institution is charged with
providing protection to victims who are minors. NGO,
international organization, and GOCR employees reported that
the Institution does not have the resources to provide the
necessary services and shelter to victims. There are no
shelters run or funded by the GOCR specifically for
trafficking victims. The OIJ has a victims' assistance
office, but it is a general office for victims of all types
of crimes.

24G. A training manual was produced and distributed to all
Costa Rican diplomatic missions that provides information on
combating trafficking in minors. The ILO and the Migration
Department provided training to border officials on how to
help prevent trafficking. The training included instruction
on the difference between alien smuggling and trafficking;
the responsibility of migration officials to prevent, detect,
and report trafficking cases they identify; and the
officials' obligation to protect trafficking victims.

24H. Post is not aware of any GOCR support for repatriated
Costa Ricans who are victims of trafficking.

24I. International Organizations working with trafficking
victims include IOM and ILO. International NGOs working with
trafficking victims include Defense of Children International
and Save the Children Sweden. Local NGOs include Fundacion
Rahab, Alianza Por Tus Derechos, and Paniamor. IOM is
working on several projects including repatriation of victims
and creating a regional network of key governmental figures
involved in the fight against trafficking. Fundacion Rahab,
with funds from ILO, operates a center in Limon that helps
victims who are minors reintegrate back into their homes and
schools.
LANGDALE