Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Costa Rica

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 11 June 2003
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Costa Rica, 11 June 2003, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Costa Rica (Tier 2)

Costa Rica has internal trafficking and is primarily a destination country for women and children trafficked into prostitution. Costa Rica is also a source and transit country for illegal migration, which includes trafficking. Women and girls are trafficked to Costa Rica from Colombia, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Panama, and to a lesser extent, Russia, Philippines, Romania and Bulgaria. The vibrant tourism industry attracts a small but growing percentage of sex tourists primarily from the United States, Canada, and Germany who prey on children.

The Government of Costa Rica does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Costa Rica has continued to improve efforts to investigate and prosecute child sex abusers. There is significant political will to fight trafficking in persons which hopefully will translate into further actions to assist victims and prevent trafficking.


The government implemented some public awareness activities, including a radio campaign on the plight of street children who remain at high risk of being trafficked. In October 2002, the government placed stricter controls on the emigration of minors by requiring an exit document if the child was not traveling with a parent. Programs to raise school attendance and provide vocational opportunities to young women have been carried out but could be expanded.


The Special Prosecutor on Sex Crimes reported hundreds of investigations launched in 2002, which led to a handful of convictions. The government expanded training of police and government officials on investigation methods and appropriate treatment of victims by the United States, UNICEF and IOM. In late 2002, each of the nation's 10 police districts established delegations of two investigators and two prosecutors to focus solely on sexual exploitation. Several anti-corruption cases are ongoing, some related to migration offenses. Increased prosecutions are expected to follow as training increases.


Most victim assistance is provided through well-established NGOs and not through the government. The Child Welfare Ministry has created various community boards to assist in the protection of children. The government should continue plans to provide shelters for child victims of sexual exploitation as well as improve basic services. Medium and long-term care for victims is appropriate and benefits judicial proceedings against traffickers.

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