de Justicia y Paz photo
Sánchez, the justice minister, gets
portrait drawn by prisoner.
fight between minister and legislators
A.M. Costa Rica staff
After some controversy led to a sparring
match between members of the legislative
assembly and the justice ministry, a craft
and culture fair was moved from the Bulevar
de Asamblea Legislativa to the Centro
Nacional de Cultural in San José.
Fairs and vendors and protests are a common
sight on the cobblestone walkway that runs
from Parque Nacional to the judiciary
headquarters with the legislature’s chambers
This particular event, however, has a more
interesting element: the people setting up
shop also happen to be convicted prisoners
serving sentences for varying crimes.
The fact that prisoners were going to be in
close proximity to the chambers of the
legislature sparked some staunch opposition
from a group of deputies.
One of the more prominent voices to that
opposition was the libertarian deputy,
According to the Ministerio de Justicia y
Paz, the prisoner’s artisan fair is still
scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m. with the
location simply changing.
produced a strong condemnation from
Cecilia Sánchez, the justice minister.
“The right of our population to have
opportunities of insertion and respect for
human dignity is undeniable,” she said. “Faced
with all sorts of prejudice and stereotypes,
it will be unavoidable. We will have our
fair because there will always be good sense
in other people and other institutions that
do understand this is a human rights issue.”
“Perhaps the challenge is not to open doors,
but to open minds, especially with those who
should be called and who are called to build
a more inclusive society,” she stingingly
Ms. Sánchez then added examples such as a
7-year-old approaching a juvenile delinquent
and asking him if he wanted to paint
together at the last fair held two weeks ago
in the Parque de Alajuela.
She even goes with her own example in
sitting down with a prisoner with a penchant
for murals and talking with him as her
likeness was drawn, the justice ministry
“We have to defeat prejudice if we want a
society that is more just and inclusive,”
Ms. Sánchez said.
|Only 45 percent
trust judicial system, report says
A.M. Costa Rica staff
The goal to provide a better justice system
is still a work in progress in Costa Rica,
despite higher investments and higher
amounts of recruiting, according to the
second Estado de la Justicia report.
The second state of justice report is made
with the collaboration of the Estado de la
Nación program and in agreement with Poder
The report finds that the amount of access
to the judicial system is one of its
greatest strengths. This is based, in part,
on the amount of cases received each year.
According to the statistics provided, an
average of 600,000 new cases are received
out of a population of roughly 4.5 million.
However, when analyzing the number of cases
received by each of the 15 judicial branches
across the country from to 2010 to 2015, a
clear decrease in the complaints filed can
While the total number of cases filed in
2010 exceeded 650,000 a year, in 2015 that
figure stands just above 600,000.
The decline in litigation coincides with a
decline in the confidence citizens have in
the judiciary. In 2004, 60 percent of people
surveyed claimed to trust the system. 11
years later in 2015, only 45 percent did.
This occurs at a time when the country's per
capita expenditure on judicial management
has increased from $32.2 per person in 2000
to $361 in 2015, the study reads.
Also, the number of judges rose from 15 per
every 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 to 27 per
100,000 people in 2015. In the case of
prosecutors, the figure increased from 5 per
100,000 inhabitants in 2000 to 12 in 2015.
Although the increase in the amount of
resources for the administration of justice
grew significantly, both its territorial
distribution and the productivity of the
different judicial districts shows severe
Such is the case with the Third Judicial
District comprising the capital of San José.
The report stated that the third district
solves 196 cases per official each year.
First Judicial District of the Zona
Atlántico shows the lowest productivity,
with 81 cases solved per officer.
In regards to workload, the
investigations of criminal cases are the
ones who top the list, followed by judicial
collection and traffic cases.
Estado de la Justicia emphasizes that,
although there is a direct relationship
between the amount of budget allocation and
the number of cases admitted, this is not
The Third Judicial District of San José
received 7.9 billion colons and served
47,000 cases in a year.
The Second Judicial District of Guanacaste
and the First Judicial District in the the
Atlantic zone received 8.2 and 8.1 million
colons respectively. Those districts served
23,000 and 27,000 cases.
The report points then out another glaring
shortcoming of the judicial system in the
small amount of sanctions relative to an
increasing number of complaints.
The analysis reveals that only 15 percent of
the complaints that come before the court of
judicial inspection end up in an effective
penalty essentially meaning that there is
little punishment and penalization once
sentencing is done.
With cases of tax inspection, that
percentage becomes 18.
With the office of internal affairs for the
Judicial Investigating Organization, that
drops to 13 percent and 27 percent in the
disciplinary unit for public security
The report indicates that the judiciary
should also pay close attention to its
deficit in the pension plans for its
There have been rumblings and grumblings
among some judicial workers and a
mismanagement of the situation could lead to
a halt on all the services, the report
Another recommendation calls to redefine the
roles of the Corte Supremo’s magistrates,
which seldom have to deal with chores that
could be easily delegated in other