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Amnesty International Report 1998 - Costa Rica

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 1 January 1998
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1998 - Costa Rica, 1 January 1998, available at: [accessed 23 October 2017]
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.

(This report covers the period January-December 1997)

There were reports of ill-treatment by police and security guards during evictions of peasants from disputed lands. Former law enforcement personnel charged with responsibility for a death in custody in 1993 received suspended sentences and were released. A Honduran refugee fled Costa Rica following intimidation, apparently by members of the Honduran security forces.

In July and August, police and armed security guards operating under licence of the Ministry of Public Security, and private armed guards reportedly ill-treated peasants and destroyed homes, possessions and crops – during evictions from disputed lands in Sarapiquí, Heredia department. The evictions were carried out even though a court case was pending and an interim stay order had been issued. Similar allegations of abuses by such units during previous evictions in which peasants were reportedly shot and wounded, remained unresolved (see Amnesty International Report 1997).

In June, seven former agents of the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (oij), Judicial Investigation Unit, charged in connection with the death in custody in 1993 of William Lee Malcolm, a minor, were cleared of homicide and aggravated illegal arrest. The former agents were found guilty of abuse of authority, given suspended sentences and released. William Lee Malcolm had allegedly been tortured while in custody, and deprived of the rights to have his detention communicated to a competent court and to have a lawyer present during interrogation.

Honduran refugee Reina Xiomara Zelaya González fled Costa Rica, with her two daughters, following continued threats and intimidation, apparently from the Honduran security services. She had fled to Costa Rica in 1996 following a series of similar death threats (see Amnesty International Report 1997). In February Reina Xiomara Zelaya was granted permanent residence in a European country.

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