Public sector workers in Costa Rica began a strike on 10th September 2018, rejecting the fiscal reform presented by the government of President Carlos Alvarado.
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. Three months on and the decision has yet to be published by the Court. The publication of the decision is vital for the effective enforcement of the ruling 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. Therefore, the LGBTI community is demanding the Supreme Court to publish the full decision.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) visited Costa Rica from 14th to 18th October, 2018. In its preliminary report, the IACHR welcomed the State’s actions to safeguard Nicaraguan refugees’ rights, especially through its “open-border” policy. This benefits human rights defenders from Nicaragua who have had to leave their country because of the constant threats they face. These include Alvaro Leiva, who was already granted asylum in Costa Rica. The IACHR also highlighted some challenges and recommended Costa Rica implement a number of measures, such as speeding up the process for people request refugee status in the country.
#CostaRica🇨🇷Trabajadores mantienen la huelga contra el "combo fiscal"— CLATE (@EstatalesCLATE) October 2, 2018
Las organizaciones sindicales rechazaron la propuesta del Gobierno y anunciaron que continuarán con la huelga general indefinida.https://t.co/3CGsZCBau8 pic.twitter.com/M6e3INFXtA
Public sector workers in Costa Rica began a strike on 10th September 2018, rejecting the fiscal reform presented by the government of President Carlos Alvarado. Their grievances include a reduction to some benefits of public sector workers and the taxation of goods and services previously exempted, for instance private education. The strike lasted for several days, and was considered "the biggest strike in 20 years".
On 6th October 2018, an agreement to end the strike was signed between the government and Unión Nacional de Empleados de la Caja y la Seguridad Social (National Union of Employees of the Fund and Social Security, UNDECA), Sindicato Nacional de Enfermería (National Union of Nursing, SINAE) and Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (Costa Rican Social Security Fund, CCSS). In addition, the government committed not to take any retaliatory action against workers involved in the strike.
The strike had the support of other sectors of the population. On 12th September 2018 a group of students from the Costa Rica University (UCR) held a demonstration outside the university to reject the fiscal reform. Police officers entered the university campus, after which there were clashes between officers and students, that ended with 5 students arrested. UCR authorities and the students strongly criticised this violation of the university’s autonomy. The government committed to create a Commission that will investigate the incident and uncover why the police accessed UCR’s campus.
In a separate development, on 25th October 2018, 31 members of congress signed a draft law that some believe undermines the right to protest. The law proposes a retroactive deduction from employees’ salaries from the moment their employer files the petition to declare a strike illegal. Currently, the salary is deducted from the moment a judge declares a strike illegal if the employee does not return to the workplace within 24 hours. As of 24th October, 22 public sector strikes were declared illegal after the court adjudged they were not directly related to labour issues.
In October 2018, in the context of the Inter-American Press Association’s 74th General Assembly that took place in the City of Salta, Argentina, the general manager of Grupo Extra, Iary Gómez and the director of Diario Extra Paola Hernández presented their semi-annual report on the situation of freedom of expression in Costa Rica. They reported that during the protest on 12th September 2018 on the UCR campus (reported in the peaceful assembly section above), police officers attacked two journalists. Other restrictions on this right include verbal attacks against journalists in the context of citizen demonstrations and proposed restrictive legislation.
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.
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.
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.