(QCOSTARICA) It is almost impossible to believe, but it is so. Officials from the Civil Registry of the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE) have been forced to go to a prison to hand over Costa Rican nationality to a foreigner who is in prison for homicide.
While Costa Rican society is a victim of criminality, the country’s laws are so outdated and so contrary that they prevent foreigners with criminal records on national soil from claiming Costa Rican nationality.
This situation was revealed by the l Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) and the Civil Registry of the TSE to legislator Gustavo Viales, president of the Legislative Commission on Security and Drug Trafficking.
The legislator said that officials from these institutions came to his office to request the commission propose a reform of the Ley de Opciones y Naturalizaciones (Naturalizations Law), which dates to 1950.
The legislator did not specify how many cases the TSE has had to grant Costa Rican nationality to a foreigner with a criminal record in recent years.
Currently, foreigners in the country who want to apply for Costa Rican nationality are only required to have their criminal records from their country of origin, but not from Costa Rica.
This is stipulated in the (Naturalizations Law.
“It is inappropriate to request good behavior in your country of origin, but it is not requested in Costa Rica, the country in which you are applying to reside. The Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones has had to go to a prison cell to hand over Costa Rican nationality to a person who is there for murder. If this crime had been committed in his country of origin, he simply would have not been given nationality, it seems to me a huge contradiction. There is no impediment to this happening, the law has been very outdated, since the 1950s,” said Viales.
The proposal aims to reform article 15 of this law by adding a subsection. According to the text, Costa Rican nationality would not be granted in the following cases:
- When the applicant is from a nation at war with Costa Rica.
- When it is judicially verified that the applicant has been convicted as a social, political or religious agitator, inside or outside the country or that it has been convicted abroad for that type of activity or for crimes of fraud, theft, fire, falsification of currency or of credit titles or by others of equal or greater gravity, according to the penalties established in our repressive Code or in the special laws for such crimes.
- When it is judicially verified that the applicant has had a relationship with international trafficking of narcotic, psychotropic, “inhalant” substances or chemical substances destined to the manufacture or dissolution of narcotic drugs, in accordance with the crimes established by law.
- When the applicant has been convicted in the national or foreign justice system for the commission of a criminal offense or for crimes with penalties exceeding three years or more, according to the crimes established in our legal system or in the special laws for such delinquencies.
The proposal adds that “in the event that the applicant has pending legal proceedings, inside and outside of Costa Rica, the pertinent legal measures will be taken in order to order the suspension of the naturalization process until there is a firm and final judgment. ordered by the respective Courts of Justice”.
“With this proposal, what we want is for there to be greater control when a foreigner wishes to opt for Costa Rican nationality. Currently, only the fact of marrying a Costa Rican person should not constitute a direct route to Costa Rican nationality, mainly from the perspective of national security. Another series of transcendental requirements must be analyzed, such as the crime record abroad and in the national territory,” said Viales.