(QCOSTARICA) Broad Front (Frente Amplio) legislator Edgardo Araya submitted a law for consideration in the Legislative Assembly that would afford additional protection to environmentalists, without any requirement that they be formally employed by the government, as are for example forest rangers.
The proposed law would make changes to the Penal Code (Codigo Penal) that would make acts committed against environmentalists more heavily penalized.
In particular, the law would require that judges consider that in crimes against a person who is an environmentalist, this fact alone would be an aggravating circumstance causing any punishment levied to be stiffer.
Araya stated that, “Every day the pressure on our natural resources is greater, those who are trying to protect these resources are vulnerable.” The law specifically references the case of Jairo Mora Sandoval, who was murdered while on beach patrol protecting turtles and their nests. (See Accused in Jairo Mora Murder Acquitted!, Indignation and Anger Over “Mistakes” By The Prosecution In The Jairo Mora Murder)
The lawmaker also mentioned the 2011 murder of conservationist Kimberly Blackwell, in the Osa Peninsula, and the deaths of María Cordero, Jaime Bustamante, Oscar Fallas y David Maradiaga, leaders of the Costa Rican Ecologists Association in 1994.
Araya added that “Currently there are many threats and abuses of activists that don’t get anywhere, because they are treated as common petty crimes and the cases are given little importance”.
Article by iNews.co.cr, with editing by the Q