1. The Committee considered the fourth report of Costa Rica (CCPR/C/103/Add.6)
at its 1745th and 1746th meetings (CCPR/SR.1745–1746), held
on 5 April 1999, and adopted the following concluding observations
at its 1751st meeting (CCPR/C/SR.1751), held on 8 April 1999.
2. The Committee welcomes the presentation by the delegation of the
fourth periodic report of Costa Rica. It also expresses its appreciation
for its comprehensive responses to the Committee's written and oral
B. Principal positive aspects
3. The Committee notes with satisfaction that in Costa Rica international
human rights treaties have primacy over domestic law.
4. The Committee welcomes the progress made by the Office of the
Ombudsman in dealing with violations of human rights.
5. The Committee takes note of measures to enhance equality between
men and women and welcomes in this regard the drawing up of affirmative
action plans. It also notes that the Labour Code guaranteeing women's
rights on the basis of article 33 of the Constitution has helped to
secure greater equality for women.
6. The Committee commends the State party for the establishment of
a Ministry for Women's Affairs, and for the development of national
plans aimed at combating domestic violence.
7. The Committee commends the State party for its ratification of
the Second Optional Protocol, aiming at the abolition of the death
8. The Committee notes with satisfaction the entry into force of
a new Code of Criminal Procedure. In particular, it welcomes the provision
of alternatives to prison sentences, through fines and payment of
damages, community service, re-education and conciliation between
offenders and victims. It also takes note of measures which are planned
to reduce crowding in the prisons.
C. Principal areas of concern and recommendations
9. The Committee regrets that, despite its comments on earlier reports,
the fourth periodic report does not sufficiently address, under the
appropriate articles, the practical implementation of human rights
in Costa Rica since the submission of the State party's third report.
10. The Committee notes that the report is unclear about the scope
and effect of the remedy of amparo. The Committee therefore
recommends that the State party include in its next periodic report
a precise explanation, with examples to illustrate its application
in respect of public and private agencies.
11. The Committee notes with concern the consequences for women,
including the danger to life involved in clandestine abortions, of
the continuing criminalization of all abortions. The Committee recommends
that the law be amended to introduce exceptions to the general prohibition
of all abortions.
12. The Committee is concerned that violence against women and domestic
violence in particular is on the increase in Costa Rica. It recommends
that all necessary measures, including the enactment of appropriate
legislation, be taken to protect women in these areas.
13. The Committee notes with concern that, although the State party
affirms that no cases of torture have occurred in Costa Rica, it has
not received adequate information about legislation and other measures
designed to prevent and punish torture and other cruel and inhuman
14. The Committee remains concerned that individuals awaiting trial
may spend long terms in detention after indictment. The State party
should ensure that its law and practice in this matter comply with
article 9, paragraph 3, and article 14, paragraphs 2 and 3 (c), of
15. The Committee recommends that further data be provided on alleged
cases of discrimination in the public and private sectors, and remedies
to deal with such cases.
16. The Committee remains concerned at the fact that religious discrimination
in education and other aspects of Costa Rican life continues to be
embodied in domestic legislation, as noted in its previous concluding
observations. The Committee reiterates the State party's obligation
to bring domestic legislation into harmony with the Covenant and requests
the State party to report on the implementation of this recommendation.
17. The Committee notes with concern that freedom of association,
including the right to collective bargaining, is not adequately respected
in conformity with article 22 of the Covenant. It reiterates in particular
the concern expressed in its previous concluding observations that
workers in small agricultural businesses do not receive adequate protection
against reprisals for attempts to form associations and trade unions.
The Committee wishes to stress that the State party should guarantee
the enjoyment of rights by all individuals and therefore recommends
once again that it consider steps to review and, where necessary,
reform labour legislation, to introduce measures of protection to
ensure that workers have access to speedy and effective remedies,
and to ensure that freedom of association, as guaranteed under article
22 of the Covenant, is enjoyed by all workers in Costa Rica.
18. The Committee is deeply concerned at the high incidence of commercial
sexual exploitation of children in Costa Rica, apparently often related
to tourism. It notes the creation of a National Board for the Protection
of the Child and amendments to the Criminal Code to criminalize the
sexual exploitation of children. The Committee urges the State party
to take further measures to eradicate this phenomenon, in cooperation
as appropriate with other States, through the investigation and prosecution
of the crimes in question.
19. The Committee further notes with concern an increase in child
labour and school drop-outs, and that no effective remedies are in
20. The Committee notes that, despite improvements, laws aimed at
gender equality have not had their intended effect, in particular
with regard to equal pay, and recommends that the State party take
all steps necessary to give effect to its commitments in law, and
to bring about the necessary cultural and attitudinal changes that
must accompany them, through educational and other programmes.
21. The Committee remains concerned that article 27 of the Covenant
is not adequately dealt with by the State party in its fourth periodic
report. It reiterates its previous recommendation that future reports
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 by the members
of indigenous communities. Although it notes the State party's establishment
of CONAI (Comisión Nacional Indígena), and the enactment of a bill
to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination and ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal
Peoples in Independent Countries, it remains concerned at the lack
of effective remedies for indigenous people in Costa Rica.
22. The Committee sets the date for the submission of Costa Rica's
fifth periodic report as April 2004. It urges the State party to make
available to the public the text of its fourth report and the present
concluding observations. It also requests that the next periodic report
be disseminated to the public and to appropriate non-governmental