Cablegate: Costa Rica: Tip Watch List Interim Assessment


DE RUEHSJ #0911/01 3262139
P 212139Z NOV 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A) STATE 111306 B) STATE 93829


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.



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

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.


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.

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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

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.


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.

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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.


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

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.


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

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.


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.


© Scoop Media

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