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Costa Rica Democracy and Rights

Democracy and rights

Costa Rica is usually called Latin America's oldest democracy, with two short exceptions it has stood since 1889. The country is characterized by stable institutions and deeply rooted freedoms and rights.

In rankings of countries by level of democracy, Costa Rica and Uruguay and possibly Chile play in their own league compared to the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. Both Costa Rica and Uruguay are sometimes called "Latin America's Switzerland" with the aim that, in addition to stable democracies, they are also equal societies with high economic prosperity, at least relative to the region. In the Economist Intelligence Unit compilation, the two, as well as Chile and Canada, are the only countries in the Western Hemisphere that in 2019 are classified as "full-fledged democracies" (only 22 countries in the world are counted by the EIU).

  • Countryaah: Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Costa Rica, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.

Nevertheless, the Costa Rican's image of his country has been somewhat blurred due to disclosures in 2017 about a top-level corruption scandal. The scandal involving cement imports from China cast shadows on political leaders, several parties and, not least, the judiciary.

In Transparency International's corruption index, Costa Rica is ranked 44 out of 180 countries. It is a worse position than the country gets in measurements relating to political freedoms and rights (the entire list is here).

The country also receives some criticism for discrimination against LGBTQ people and the indigenous population.

Democracy and Human Rights of Costa RicaFreedom of expression and media

Freedom of the press and opinion is guaranteed by the Constitution and respected in reality. Journalists can generally work freely and legislation protects the right to information. In Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, Costa Rica is ranked 7 out of 180 countries (the entire list is here).

Despite this, some problems are reported with threats and also violence against journalists, including during demonstrations and especially in connection with elections. A certain self-censorship is also applied among journalists as a result of legislation that can, among other things, impose high fines for slander and mean that journalists are placed on a list of convicted criminals. Up until 2010, convictions for slander could also give prison.

Press freedom organizations have criticized an Internet law passed by Parliament in 2013, which means that anyone who reveals state secrets about the nation's security or foreign relations risks imprisonment for up to six years.

Judicial system and legal security

The judiciary is considered to be independent of political involvement and the rule of law is predominantly good. Previous problems with overcrowded prisons have largely been remedied, but complaints appear on slow court processes.

Crime has increased as a result of the drug trafficking-related crime afflicting large parts of the region, even in Costa Rica. The number of murders has risen sharply, even a decrease has been noted since 2017. The murder rate is still only about a fraction compared to the rest of Central America and was also low for the whole of Latin America. However, the increased presence of organized crime raises great concern.


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