Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2018, 14:34 GMT

Amnesty International Report 1997 - Costa Rica

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 1 January 1997
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1997 - Costa Rica, 1 January 1997, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018]
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.
There were reports of ill-treatment and excessive use of force by police officers and armed security guards against peasants involved in land disputes. A refugee in Costa Rica was allegedly intimidated by members of the Honduran security forces.

In June, Costa Rica ratified the Inter-American Convention on the Forced Disappearance of Persons.

Throughout the year there were widespread demonstrations against privatization measures and the government's economic austerity plans. In the city of Puerto Limón, during riots against the privatization of port services in August, three people were reportedly killed and nearly 80 were injured.

There were continued reports of ill-treatment and excessive use of force by police and armed security guards operating under licence of the Ministry of Public Security during land evictions. In May, 80 members of the civil guard and several armed security guards evicted 200 peasants who were occupying a farm, "Dieciocho de Abril s.a." in Sarapiquí, department of Heredia. During the eviction, three peasants were shot and injured: Juan Víctor Víctor was injured when a bullet hit him the abdomen, and René Rojas Ferrogino and Dennis Zambrana were wounded by pellets. Some peasants were allegedly beaten after their detention by members of the civil guard. Carlos Rangel Mendoza was reportedly beaten repeatedly in the face after being handcuffed.

Reina Xiomara Zelaya, a refugee living in Costa Rica, was reportedly intimidated by members of the Honduran security forces. Reina Xiomara Zelaya fled Honduras in February after her former husband, Florencio Caballero, testified in front of national and international agencies to having worked between 1979 and 1984 as an interrogator for the Honduras military intelligence unit, Battalion 3-16. The battalion was entrusted with the task of investigating political suspects and carrying out their abduction, detention, torture and murder.

Reina Xiomara Zelaya had fled Honduras with her three young daughters after receiving death threats and had been granted asylum in Costa Rica. Between August and December, she and her daughters were intimidated in Costa Rica on a number of occasions, allegedly by members of the Honduran security forces. Amnesty International repeatedly urged the Costa Rican authorities to guarantee the safety of Reina Xiomara Zelaya and her daughters and to investigate the death threats (which she continued to receive in Costa Rica), and to bring those responsible to justice. However, no effective action had been taken by the authorities by the end of the year.

In June, Amnesty International wrote to the Minister of Public Security requesting a thorough and independent investigation into the reports of excessive use of force by members of the civil guard and armed security guards during the eviction from the farm "Dieciocho de Abril s.a.", and calling for those responsible to be brought to justice. Amnesty International also urged that all necessary measures be taken to ensure that such incidents were stopped, including the training of the security forces in the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. No reply had been received by the end of the year.

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