Environmental activism targeted by illegal poachers

Association

On 31st July, environmental activist Alcides Parajeles reported to the National Assembly of Costa Rica death threats he has been receiving from illegal poachers because of his work on the protection of endangered animal species. He is requesting the Ministry of Environment to take urgent measures to protect his life. Parajeles expressed his concern about the poor state of the national environmental protection system which, for example, hasn't opened new positions for forest rangers since 1998. 

Peaceful Assembly

On 26th June, workers from different sectors, and mainly the public sector, protested in the country’s capital to reject a new tax reform. Police officers did not intervene but the government started a legal process to declare the protest illegal, stating that they have met three times with leaders of the protests but the workers are not making concrete suggestions which would take the negotiation process forward. 

During a protest of taxi drivers against Uber on 3rd July, two protesters were arrested for destroying the mobile phone of a woman who was filming the situation. The government expressed its willingness to meet with representatives of the taxi drivers to find a negotiated solution to their grievances, adding that the government won't tolerate the blocking of the main street during rush hour. 

Expression

On June 2018, the Colegio Nacional de Periodistas (COLPER) expressed their concern over a proposed amendment to the Criminal Code which, they say, would undermine freedom of expression in the country. The proposal seeks to “protect reputation” against the misuse of social media, by increasing the criminal sanctions. COLPER says there should be education measures to promote responsible use of social media, instead of criminalising speech. The proposal still hasn’t been discussed or voted on in the National Assembly.

Laura Astorga, a filmmaker, reported that she has been receiving threats related to the new movie she’s working on, which tells the story of three environmental activists that were killed in 1994, soon after they won a legal dispute against a multinational lumber company Stone Forestal. She reports receiving threatening messages on her phone and Facebook. Astorga has already started a legal process to seek protection and has assured the public that the production of this film will continue.