Anti-trafficking law goes into effect with publication

The security ministry confirmed Friday that a new law against trafficking in persons has gone into effect. The law became valid because it was published in the La Gaceta official newspaper that day.

This is the law that criminalizes promoting Costa Rica as a sex tourist destination. The law also provides penalties for those who transport prostitutes even though prostitution is not prosecuted.

The law also increases the exit tax at international airports from $28 to $29. The money goes into a fund to be distributed by a new commission to fight human trafficking.  The recipients likely will be non-governmental organizations.

The measure against sexual tourism provides four to eight years in prison for those who promote or realize programs, campaigns, publicity announcements or making use of whatever media to promote the country nationally and internationally as a tourist destination accessible for commercial sexual exploitation or prostitution.

The measure also sets for the first time penalties of from three to five years in prison for those who benefit from trafficking in persons, the illicit traffic in migrants and similar activities. The penalty is aimed at operators of locations involved in trafficking.

The new law also covers exploitation of those under 18 with stiff penalties of from 10 to 20 years if the person doing the exploitation is a relative or has custody.

The measure is law No.  9095.

A.M. Costa Rica addressed some aspects of the law when it was reported out of committee nearly a year ago. The newspaper said at the time that the measure clearly is an effort to appease the United States, whose State Department usually lists Costa Rica as below par in fighting human trafficking. The last State Department report put together by the U.S. Embassy staff never mentions that prostitution is not illegal here.

The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería said the bill was passed to cause Costa Rica to conform to U.N. treaties it has adopted.

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