Committee considered the third periodic report of Costa Rica (CCPR/C/70/Add.4)
at its 1298th to 1300th meetings held on 25 and 26 March (CCPR/C/SR.1298-1300)
and adopted at its 1315th meeting (fiftieth session), held on 6
April 1994 the following comments.
Committee welcomes the opportunity to continue its dialogue with
the State party but notes with regret that its report did not contain
sufficient information on the implementation in practice of the
Covenant. The Committee notes that the delegation provided useful
information on several points not covered in the report.
Committee expresses its concern over the inadequate steps taken
by the State party properly to discharge its reporting obligations
under article 40 of the Covenant. In this regard, the Committee
regrets that its observations at the consideration of the second
periodic report were not taken into account during the preparation
of the third periodic report. Furthermore, the third periodic report
did not at all conform to the reporting guidelines established by
the Committee. The Committee is also concerned that the report was
neither adequately publicized in Costa Rica nor available to the
public or human rights organizations in Costa Rica in advance of
its consideration by the Committee.
B. Factors and difficulties affecting the application of the
Committee notes that there was no indication in the report concerning
factors and difficulties affecting the application of the Covenant.
Committee understands that a rising crime rate has considerably
increased the workload of the judiciary.
C. Positive aspects
Committee takes note with appreciation of the level of achievement
in the enjoyment of human rights in Costa Rica. It notes with satisfaction
the measures undertaken by the Government to protect human rights
at the national level, such as those offices established for the
protection of human rights, women, children and detainees and the
recently established Office of the Defender of the Inhabitants.
In particular, the Committee expresses its satisfaction with the
good will demonstrated by the Government to achieve effective protection
of human rights and the progressive approach it has adopted to incorporate
international human rights standards into the domestic legal order.
The Committee expresses its appreciation for the major contribution
by Costa Rica aimed at strengthening international efforts to promote
and protect human rights.
D. Principal subjects of concern
Committee notes with concern that, in view of the inadequate information
which has been provided by the State party, it is unclear to what
extent the rights of detainees are protected in actual practice,
particularly the right to liberty and security of person and the
right of appeal. In that connection, concern is expressed at the
present level of protection for detainees regarding lengthy pre-trial
detention. Concern is also expressed at the inadequacy of training
on human rights standards, particularly the provisions of the Covenant,
provided to the police and security forces and the extent to which
their activities are monitored.
Committee notes with concern that many labour regulations, particularly
those relating to freedom of association as protected under article
22 of the Covenant, are not in conformity with international standards.
In particular, the Committee further notes that the rights of workers
employed by small agricultural businesses, especially those who
wish to form unions in coffee and sugar cane plantations, may not
be protected under the current legal regime. Additionally, there
is concern that the system of "solidarity" organizations
(asociaciones solidaristas) may prevent the effective enjoyment
of those rights in general.
respect to article 18 of the Covenant, the Committee is concerned
at the pre-eminent position accorded to the Roman Catholic Church.
The Committee also notes with concern that certain provisions of
Costa Rican legislation (inter alia, the Ley de Carrera
Docente) confer on the National Episcopal Conference the power
to effectively impede the teaching of religions other than Catholicism
in public schools and the power to bar non-Catholics from teaching
religion in the public school curricula.
Committee notes with concern that many laws aimed at promoting gender
equality have not had their intended effect and that there is still
much progress to be made in this regard.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
Committee recommends that existing measures to protect the rights
of detainees be strengthened. In this connection, the Committee
emphasizes the importance of closely monitoring pre-trial detention,
and the need for prompt investigation into reports of abuse. The
Committee stresses the importance of adequate training for the police
and other security forces and prison personnel with respect to the
relevant provisions of the Covenant as well as other applicable
international human rights standards, including the Standard Minimum
Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
Committee suggests that the Government consider steps to review
and, where necessary, reform labour legislation to ensure that freedom
of association, as guaranteed under article 22 of the Covenant,
is enjoyed by all workers in Costa Rica and, in particular, that
workers in small agricultural enterprises are free to organize.
Committee recommends that the State party take steps to ensure that
there is no discrimination in the exercise of the right to religious
education, particularly with respect to access to religious teachings
other than Catholicism. Current practices which make the selection
of religious instructors subject to the authorization of the National
Episcopal Conference are not in conformity with the Covenant.
Committee recommends that further measures be taken to combat gender
inequality and to improve the situation of women in Costa Rica.
Committee strongly urges the Government to prepare its fourth periodic
report in compliance with the guidelines for the preparation of
State party reports and take into account concerns expressed during
the consideration of the third periodic report. The Committee emphasizes
that Costa Rica should be prepared to report on, and participate
in, a dialogue on each article of the Covenant; and that this obligation
is not negated by the fact that Costa Rica believes that it has
given some of the relevant material to another treaty body. The
fourth periodic report should contain, inter alia, detailed
and updated information on the extent to which each of the rights
protected under the Covenant, including article 27, are enjoyed
in actual practice, and measures which had been taken during the
reporting period to further implement the Covenant. The Committee
emphasizes that the State party should not underestimate the importance
of properly fulfilling its obligations under article 40 of the Covenant.
In that connection, attention is drawn to the fact that appropriate
advice and training for the submission of reports might be obtained
from the Centre for Human Rights.
Committee underlines the importance of involving concerned professional
organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the media
and the general public in efforts to improve the application of
the Covenant. To this end, the State party should ensure that its
reports under article 40 of the Covenant are publicized and readily
accessible in Costa Rica in advance of their consideration by the
Committee. Additional measures should be taken with a view to make
provisions of the Covenant more widely known among judges, lawyers,
teachers and the general public.