CIVICUS

MonitorTracking civic space

Costa Rica

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Last updated on 30.04.2019 at 15:04

Overview

Costa Rica has long provided an environment where a pluralistic and diversified civil society has been able to develop and influence government decision-making processes.

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Journalists denounce lack of access to information

Journalists denounce lack of access to information

In November 2018 the Constitutional Court published the final ruling on same-sex marriage, that had been demanded by LGBTI activists in the country.

Association

In November 2018 the Constitutional Court published the final ruling on same-sex marriage, that had been demanded by LGBTI activists in the country. As reported previously, in August 2018, the Supreme Court of Justice declared that Costa Rica's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and ordered the National Assembly to enact legislation accordingly. However, in order to effectively enforce the decision, the court needed to publish the judgment as the court stated that if the National Assembly doesn’t reach an agreement within 18 months of the decision's publication, the amendments to the law will automatically enter into force.

Expression

In January 2019, the Costa Rican president Carlos Alvarado remarked that the country respects freedom of expression and journalism, and that a proof of that was when independent journalists from Nicaragua, such as Carlos Fernando Chamorro, decided to take exile in the country after claiming threats to their integrity and the right to exercise their freedom of expression in Nicaragua.

Despite the above, Costa Rican media such as CRHOY, a digital newspaper, has denounced the approach taken by the government, especially the Minister of Communication Nancy Marín, is not publishing the presidential agenda. They also condemned the increasingly reducing access to spaces to request information from the president, which has affected the work of the media. This is not the first time that this type of event has happened in Costa Rica. In 2018, too, journalists denounced the government for its lack of transparency.

Association

The freedom of association is a constitutionally protected right and is respected in practice. Numerous organisations in Costa Rica are active with substantial involvement in policy making, official consultations and social policy implementation.

The freedom of association is a constitutionally protected right and is respected in practice. Numerous organisations in Costa Rica are active with substantial involvement in policy making, official consultations and social policy implementation. The government does not have, nor does it exercise, arbitrary registration or deregistration powers, and it does not seek to interfere with or subvert civil society in any significant way. There are no restrictions or prohibitions on foreign funding for civil society. Human rights defenders can operate freely with no regular attacks or threats against them by the state. However, there have been isolated attacks against environmental human rights defenders perpetrated by non-state actors involved in illegal activities. For example, in May 2013, an environmental activist involved in the defence of sea turtles was killed in a Caribbean province of Costa Rica, an attack that civil society interpreted as a warning to all CSOs working on environmental issues. The fact that the killers were convicted in early 2016, however, is also a sign that a cycle of violence is not about to be triggered by impunity for those who attack civil society.

Peaceful Assembly

The freedom of peaceful assembly is constitutionally enshrined and upheld in practice. Advance notification is required for gatherings in public spaces and restrictions on locations are imposed in order to guarantee free transit and circulation.

The freedom of peaceful assembly is constitutionally enshrined and upheld in practice. Advance notification is required for gatherings in public spaces and restrictions on locations could be imposed in order to guarantee free transit and circulation. Protests rarely turn violent, and unlawful police repression, arbitrary arrests and judicial procedures against demonstrators are unusual. Several protests occurred in the country recently, mostly related to labor and workers rights.   

Expression

The right to freedom of expression is generally respected in Costa Rica. Attacks against journalists and media outlets are rare, with only two cases reported in 2015.

The right to freedom of expression is generally respected in Costa Rica. Attacks against journalists and media outlets are rare. Prison terms for defamation were eliminated in 2010, and an appeals process for overturning sentences for criminal libel was established in 2011. Although Costa Rica does not have access to information legislation, recently the government introduced regulations with the aim of creating a more transparent government. The concentration of media ownership is one of the main challenges to a free press in the country.