U.S. rights report has a few Costa Rican omissions

The U.S. State Department human rights report, released Wednesday overlooks aspects important to Americans. Among these are the unconstitutional detention of a sex tourism blogger, land invasions, inconsistencies in government development approvals and censored court records.

The report did mention property problems as it related to native populations. The report said the Costa Rican human rights abuses included harsh prison conditions and treatment, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and infringement on the rights of indigenous people. Other human rights concerns included trafficking in persons, particularly sex trafficking of children. Domestic violence against women and children was also an area of societal concern, it added.

There was no mention of Dave Strecker, the Key West man who has been in prison since early September because he posted presumably true reports of his exploits with prostitutes in the Caribbean countries, including Costa Rica. The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions, the report said of Costa Rica.  Strecker is accused of violating a 2013 law prohibiting calling Costa Rica a sex tourism destination.

The State Department appears to be guilty of violating that law. The report said that the government identified child sex tourism as a serious problem. But there was no evidence. This a continual claim by the State Department because so much U.S. taxpayer money has been invested with organizations that claim to fight sex tourism and prostitution.

There is bad news for Strecker in the report, because it says that a criminal court may hold suspects in pretrial detention for up to one year, and the court of appeals may extend this period to two years in especially complex cases. That is true even if the allegations turn out to be bogus.

The report said that the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, the child welfare agency, received 32 cases of commercial sexual exploitation of minors, presumably in 2015, but the judiciary

reports just eight cases with four convictions in 2014.

The report overlooks the case of Las Olas, the development on the central Pacific coast that has been elevated to international arbitration with the World Bank. The project developers claim they have been whipsawed by changes in government rules after they failed to pay a  $200,000 bribe to local officials.

Then there is the case, well-known to embassy workers, of a corporation with expat officers that has been fighting for 18 years to remove squatters and gain full control of property near Los Sueños on the central Pacific coast. There is no mention of this in the report.

However, the report does say that land ownership continued to be a problem in most native territories adding that violent incidents at the Bribri Salitre reservation over land disputes between native inhabitants and non-natives reemerged during the year.

The report also said that Costa Rica law provides for public access to government information, and the government generally implemented the law effectively, providing access for citizens and non-citizens, including foreign media.

That does not appear to be true of the judiciary where U.S. investigators have expressed concern because court decisions are being vetted to protect the so-called privacy of those involved. The investigators said that without names they could not complete a proper due diligence for their clients.

Also not mentioned in the report is the phenomenon of Gringo prices where U.S. and other expats, including embassy diplomats, are charged more in day-to-day transactions.

And there also is no mention of the legal profession’s habit of expropriating the money of clients.

The report on Costa Rica is HERE!  A news story about State Department criticism of authoritarian regimes is HERE!

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