During the blockades of roads that took place this past week and with which the trade unions threaten to continue into next week, it was seen that the union leaders put children and adolescents in the frontline positions of the demonstrations.

A small group of students blocked the pass over the Rio Grande de Térraba, in Palmar Norte de Osa until officers of the Fuerza Publica (National Police) arrived and convinced them to clear the bridge. Photo: Alfonso Quesada

This, as well as dangerous for minors, also brings legal consequences for parents.

In some actions, young protesters have also been seen attacking drivers and private property.

Family lawyer, Belisario Solano was asked by La Teja who is responsible for the acts of minors?

The lawyer explained that both of those under twelve years of age, as well as those between the ages of twelve and eighteen, can face sanctions under the Juvenile Law (Ley Penal Juvenil). Regarding the latter, responsibility rests with the minor, personally and in conjunction with the parents, for the damages and losses that they may generate.

With respect to children under 12, the responsibility is total and absolute of the parents, both from the civil and family point of view, because there is an abandonment of their duty as parents.

In the case of children under 12 taken or taking part in demonstrations, the lawyer explained that the PANI, the child welfare agency, could open an administrative case, issue protective measures, take the children from the parents and put them in a temporary shelter and open criminal proceedings against the parents. From the point of view of family, the parents could face the suspension of parental authority.

In the case of young people from 12 to 18 years old, if they commit acts of vandalism juvenile criminal law is applied to minors and they may have sanctions. The parents are civilly liable for all the damages caused by their children and they can also be charged with abandoning their duty as parents.

A  misconception, according to Solano, is that minors “can not be touched” if they are called to a demonstration by WhatsApp messages or other social media. But is this so?

The family lawyer explained that “it is not that they can not be touched, they are being used as a human shield and the police forces must be very careful when dealing with such a situation”.

This does not mean that the police can not act to lift the blockade, it must do so with due protocol, with a juvenile criminal judge and PANI personnel present.

“Obstructing roads is a crime, people can manifest themselves, but without blocking roads,” said Solano.