Thursday 1 June 2023

Every 11 minutes there is a crime in Costa Rica

Stopping recidivism is essential to reduce crime, according to experts, as homicides increased 19% between January and March compared to the same period last year

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1 June 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Every 11 minutes and 46 seconds, a there is a victim of assault, theft, robbery or vehicle break-in and in the worst case, a murder, according to the criminal clock of the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ).

In an analysis between January 1 and March 20, the OIJ received reports of a total of 9,920 criminal acts.

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However, it is likely that the real figure is much higher since a significant number of events go unreported.

The most common crime is theft, which occurs every 33 minutes, followed by burglary (46 minutes) and assault (48 minutes).

The data that worries the authorities the most is that of homicides, for the period, 178 murders were recorded; while in 2022, there were 145 murders for the same period. This is an increase of 19%.

The war between drug gangs for territory and sales, explains the increase in the number of murders, according to experts, to which the majority are settling of scores between criminals.

In this sense, authorities of the Judiciary, the government, and legislators advocate reforming the law and preventing permissive prison benefits, such as conditional release for repeat offenders, for example.

The aim is of reducing recidivism, since in many cases, the same criminals are behind many of the crimes.

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For example, the person arrested for the murder of 19-year-old named Keylor Gamboa last  November had been arrested 31 times in a period of a year and a half in which he received the open-door prison benefit, confirmed Gerald Campos, Justice Minister, at the time.

More recently, two suspects, ages 18 and 24, were detained by police in Puntarenas for allegedly committing a double homicide in Fray Casiano de Chacarita. One of the detainees has a record for homicide, aggravated robbery and possession of an illegal weapon and even so, he was set free pending an investigation for his latest crime.

In recent weeks, a number of suspects for murder or attempted murder have been underage, in one case as young as 15.

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“Without a doubt there is a great need for the country to have a law on the execution of sentences, to guarantee compliance with the criminal sanctions imposed by the Court. The Judicial Power in this matter has a clear objective of working and cooperating with the other State Powers in order to achieve a better tool for judges”, said Orlando Aguirre, president of the Supreme Court of Justice.

Right now, it can be said Costa Rica is a much more violent country than El Salvador since it reports five times more murders than the neighboring country.

In this sense, President Rodrigo Chaves has already taken action on the matter and focusing to stop recidivism.

To do this, he signed a decree that establishes that sexual offenders and people convicted of drug trafficking and crimes against life, have to serve at least half of the sentence, before becoming eligible for probation.

“We cannot give benefits to the antisocial without their adequate reinsertion into society, I believe in the rights of all human beings, but we have to take care of the rights of good people. We signed a decree so that criminals for sexual crimes, drug trafficking and homicides cannot opt for prison benefits, until serving half their sentence, that is, if they have 12 years in prison, they know that they are going to suck it up the least six years,” Chaves said.

The wave of violence and murders is already generating a bad image for Costa Rica, as reported last week by The Washington Post in its article “Costa Rica, laid-back land of ‘pura vida,’ succumbing to drug violence”. Read it here.

“Now, this longtime refuge of tranquility is grappling with a jump in violence, driven by a little-remarked on phenomenon that is bedeviling several Latin American countries. Once merely way stations for illegal drugs heading to the United States or Europe, they are suffering abuse problems of their own,” stated the Washington Post.

 

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