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Costa Rica: UN human rights experts concerned about overcrowding in prisons


GENEVA (15 March 2019) — The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture is concerned about overcrowding in some places of deprivation of liberty in Costa Rica which it observed during its first visit to the country.

"We are pleased to note that serious work is being carried out on a methodology to determine the capacity of prisons," said Roberto Fehér Perez, who headed the delegation. "However, public policies aimed at reducing overcrowding should not focus on building new prisons, but on making new criminal policies to reduce imprisonment,"  Fehér stressed.

“In this regard, the recommendations of the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture on improving prison conditions can be very useful. We recommend that Costa Rica continues to strengthen this Mechanism by providing it with all the necessary human and financial resources to carry out its important task more efficiently," added Fehér.

During its visit to Costa Rica from March 3 to 14, the Subcommittee visited 23 places of deprivation of liberty in different parts of the country, including prisons, police and judicial investigation agencies, and youth training centres and psychiatric establishments. The Subcommittee conducted confidential and individual interviews with persons deprived of their liberty, prison system officials, police and health personnel, and also met with government authorities, the National Assembly, the judiciary, the Ombudsman's Office, the National Preventive Mechanism and representatives of civil society.

Following its visit, the Subcommittee will address a confidential report to the government of Costa Rica, which will include its observations and recommendations for how to prevent torture and ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty. The Subcommittee encourages the Costa Rican government to publish this report, which will favour a transparent national dialogue aimed at implementing the Subcommittee’s recommendations.

The delegation was composed of Roberto Fehér Perez (Head of Delegation, Uruguay), Maria Dolores Gómez (Argentina), Maria Luisa Romero (Panama), Nora Sveaass (Norway), and Juan Pablo Vegas (Peru).



The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture monitors States parties’ adherence to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture which to date has been ratified by 89 countries. The Subcommittee is made up of 25 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Subcommittee has a mandate to undertake visits to States parties, during the course of which it may visit any place where persons may be deprived of their liberty. 

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In Geneva, for media inquiries, please contact Julia Grønnevet at +41 (0) 22 917 9310/jgronnevet@ohchr.org.

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