The basic rule of democracy is what is called heretransparency. The public has to know what is going on.
The Laura Chinchilla administration has been big on public relations in an effort to obscure the facts from the public. But that is nothing compared to the ill-advised law passed in 2011 with the goal of protecting personal privacy.
As readers learned Wednesday, the judiciary is now eliminating names from up to 40,000 court files in order to protect citizens. There is a litany of items that must be erased, ranging from names, cédula numbers to sexual orientation and telephone numbers.
The legislature is the home of unintended consequences, and we are sure that lawmakers did not intend to protect crooks, sex perverts, child molesters, deadbeats and bad tenants. The judiciary is following the law and actually started doing so some months ago.
Lot of occupations depend on the court records. which have been accumulated by various credit reporting agencies. Landlords would like to make sure that a potential tenant has not been evicted multiple times. Employers would like to make sure that the new accountant did not face conviction for embezzlement.
Of course, judicial workers will continue to have access to these files. And perhaps for a small fee, someone with a burning desire to find out about someone will be able to do so. The general public will be excluded, however.
The approach is similar to the misguided juvenile justice program here and in many other locations where the names of young toughs are kept from the eyes of the public so it is a surprise when the bad egg guns down someone later. These efforts at protection are not for the criminals or the participants in court cases. The protection is for the public officials so that the public cannot evaluate the job they are doing.
They say sometimes that Costa Rica is behind the times. In this case, that is true. Welcome to “1984.”