The Government of Costa Rica presented this past Wednesday to Congress a package of bills that seek to strengthen the fight against crime, at a time when the country is experiencing an increase in violence, especially homicides.
The country’s president, Rodrigo Chaves, accompanied by several ministers, announced the bills and other Executive initiatives in an official act, and then went to the Congress facilities to deliver the projects.
One of the projects is a reform to the Constitution to allow the extradition of nationals in cases of international drug trafficking and terrorism, while another initiative seeks to try minors who commit crimes related to organized crime as adults.
Other initiatives aim to toughen punishments for the illegal possession of firearms, prevent “violent criminals” from receiving sentence reductions or being able to serve part of their sentence outside prison, and modernize wiretapping legislation.
“This is an important change, I think we are doing the right thing and the brave thing. The Legislative Branch needs to take action and the Judicial Branch to do the same,” Chaves declared.
Operation Costa Rica Segura
The Government also announced “Operation Costa Rica Segura”, through which it intends to increase the number of police officers on the streets and the operations in the most conflictive areas of the country.
As an extraordinary and temporary measure for six months, the Ministry of Security will increase the working hours of 6 × 4, that is, the police to 6 consecutive work days and 4 days off. Currently the days are 6×6 or 3×3.
The Government also announced the hiring of 400 police officers next June and 300 more by the end of the year, who will join the around 12,000 that the country currently has.These initiatives were presented at a time when the country is going through an increase in homicides.
As of April 12th, homicides in 2023 in Costa Rica reached 241, which represents 69 more than in the same period of 2022 for an increase of 40%. In the last two days there have been at least 10 more homicides.
Costa Rica closed 2022 with a total of 656 homicides in 2022, the highest number in its history and with a rate of 12.6 per 100,000 inhabitants. This represented an increase of 11% compared to the number of homicides in 2021.
63% of homicides are due to settling accounts due to disputes between criminal structures dedicated to drugs and 70% of homicides are committed with a firearm, s2022 2200 firearms were removed from the streets.
The data presented this Wednesday by the Government indicate that the police arrested 28,000 people in 2022 for violent crimes, but only 1 in 15 were sent to prison as suspects.
“A complement of better legal tools is required and that these people do not continue on the streets in criminal structures,” said Deputy Security Minister Daniel Calderón.
President Chaves said that “the problem is not new” and that “today is not the end of the problem”, but appreciated that the initiatives presented are a step in the right direction.