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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05SANJOSE488 2005-02-28 18:06 2011-03-08 16:04 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy San Jose
Appears in these articles:
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF: STATE 273089 
ΒΆ1.  (U)  Following is Embassy San Jose's submission for the 
2004 annual anti-trafficking in persons (TIP) report. 
Responses are keyed to sections outlined in reftel, with the 
first paragraph beginning at 18A.  Post's POC for the report 
is Political Officer Janae Cooley.  Telephone number: (506) 
519-2256.  Fax: (506) 519-2364. Total number of hours spent 
in preparing the TIP report: Poloff Janae Cooley: 90, 
Political Assistant Hellen Sanou: 65, Political Section 
Chief: 1, Consular: 1, RSO: 1, A/DCM: 2. 
18A.  (SBU)  Costa Rica is a country mainly of transit, 
destination and, to a lesser degree, origin for 
internationally trafficked men, women, and children. 
Specific numbers for each population are unavailable, but 
government and non-government sources agree that women and 
children constitute the majority of trafficking victims who 
pass through Costa Rica.  Trafficking also occurs within the 
country's borders.  There are currently no comprehensive 
estimates as to the extent of the problem.  The Ministry of 
Public Security noted that the number of charges filed in 
connection with sexual exploitation crimes increased 
significantly last year in relation to 2003.   Sources for 
information on trafficking in persons include the Chief 
Prosecutor's Office, the Migration Department, the Public 
Security Ministry, the Women's Ministry, the Children's 
Welfare Institution (PANI), the Judicial Investigative Police 
(OIJ), the OIJ's special trafficking crimes investigative 
unit, the Legislative Assembly, the International 
Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Labor 
Organization (ILO), The United Nations' Children's Fund 
(UNICEF), non-governmental organizations (NGOs)Save the 
Children Sweden, Defense for Children International, 
Paniamor, Alianza Por Tus Derechos, Fundacion Rahab, and the 
press.  Women and children are the most at risk of being 
trafficked, although one NGO reported that mini-vans full of 
tourists have been frequenting a gay nightclub in Limon 
Province that advertises young boys as an attraction. 
18B.  (SBU) Persons are trafficked to and through Costa Rica 
from all over the world.  Police and NGOs reported that main 
source countries include Cuba, the Dominican Republic, 
Colombia, Nicaragua, Peru, Russia, Romania, the Philippines, 
China, Ecuador, and Guatemala.  Governmental and 
non-governmental sources agree that individuals are 
trafficked internationally mainly to the United States, 
Canada, Mexico, and Europe.  Save the Children specified 
Argentina and Spain as two destination countries. 
Investigators from the OIJ's trafficking crimes unit 
explained that there is a "training center" in Guatemala 
where individuals are sent to learn how to avoid being 
detected as bearers of fraudulent documents.  The unit's 
investigators said that women are not generally trafficked to 
just one destination; they are moved from one location to 
another.  IOM reported that there is evidence of trafficked 
Russian women in the southern Golfito area.   IOM further 
explained that it is likely that the Russians are circulated 
throughout the country. IOM also reported that Dominican 
women are flown to Panama, and then brought overland into 
Costa Rica. 
NGO Paniamor reported that trafficking activities have been 
identified that are timed to coincide with the harvest 
season.  Women and children from neighboring countries 
sometimes voluntarily travel to Costa Rica to engage in 
commercial sex work with agricultural workers (banana 
plantations, for example), and later fall into organized 
networks of commercial sexual exploitation. 
NGO Alianza Por Tus Derechos reported that Junquillal beach 
in Guanacaste province is known to have several Romanians and 
Russians who provide commercial sex services. 
Individuals are also trafficked internally in Costa Rica. 
According to the Ministry of Public Security, people from 
outlying cities such as Ciudad Quesada (north of the 
capital), Siquirres (east of the capital), and Quepos (south 
of the capital) are trafficked to San Jose. People are also 
trafficked from the capital of San Jose to the coastal areas, 
especially the Pacific coastal areas of Guanacaste Province 
and the Caribbean coastal town of Limon.  In May 2004 IOM 
received reports of internal trafficking of Costa Rican 
minors who were recruited for sexual tourism and trafficked 
by their victimizers.  NGO Fundacion Rahab reported that it 
knows of four girls who were trafficked internally from 
eastern coastal Limon province to the western coastal town of 
18C.  (SBU)  According to the Public Security Ministry, the 
number of trafficking routes has increased in the past year. 
For example, the Ministry has data about new routes to Japan 
where individuals were deceived into thinking they were going 
to be given legal jobs and, upon arrival, their passports 
were confiscated and they were forced into commercial sex 
work.  According to Defense For Children International, both 
the routes and the number of people trafficked have increased 
in the past year.  The NGO specified that the Philippines is 
a new country of origin for individuals trafficked to Costa 
18D.  (SBU)  In August 2004, the OIJ created a new 
investigative unit dedicated exclusively to trafficking and 
smuggling.  The unit consists of three investigators.  The 
investigators are mapping the routes of and nexuses between 
identified traffickers.  Additionally, Save the Children 
Sweden began working in January 2005 with local NGO 
implementing partner Paniamor to collect information from 
police and border guards in order to map known trafficking 
routes for the entire region of Central America. 
18E.  (SBU)  The trafficking crimes investigation unit 
reported that trafficking victims are principally forced into 
commercial sex work, often in nightclubs, but some are also 
used to perform manual labor.   According to the ILO, the 
majority of labor trafficking occurs in the domestic servant, 
agriculture, and fishing industries.  NGO Alianza Por Tus 
Derechos reported that individuals are often promised work in 
restaurants and bars, but once they arrive their documents 
are confiscated and they are forced to engage in commercial 
sex work.  The NGO reported cases of children trafficked from 
Nicaragua to beg for money in the streets in Costa Rica. 
The Public Security Ministry reported that women are also 
trafficked to work as escorts.  Once their services are no 
longer needed by their client they are returned to their 
To ensure compliance with their traffickers' demands, 
victims' travel documents are usually seized, and debt 
bondage is common.  Victims are threatened with physical harm 
if they do not comply with the traffickers' demands, and the 
traffickers may also threaten to harm the victims' families. 
 Traffickers charge their victims up to USD 10,000 for the 
expenses incurred during their trip.  The Public Security 
Ministry explained that traffickers usually stipulate a 
minimum period of six months during which the trafficked 
women must engage in commercial sex work in order to pay off 
the debt they owe to their traffickers.  Additionally, the 
Ministry has information that Romanian women trafficked to 
Costa Rica have been threatened that if they refuse to engage 
in commercial sex work, their families in Romania could 
suffer reprisals, including kidnapping.  These threats are 
targeted specifically at the families because the 
traffickers, in the case of the Romanian victims, provided 
USD 10,000 to the families as economic assistance, and the 
victims are then obliged to pay off the debt via commercial 
sex work.  The Ministry reported that women often seek 
marriage to or a serious relationship with a wealthy local 
who can pay off their trafficking debt. 
NGO Alianza Por Tus Derechos reported that in June 2004 it 
learned of two trafficked Nicaraguan girls working in the 
northern town of Ciudad Quesada who earned money for 
commercial sex work during "house parties." The female minors 
had to give 60 percent of their earnings to their 
traffickers.  The NGO does not know what happened to the 
Many Dominicans are trafficked to Costa Rica to dance in 
nightclubs, where they are forced to engage in commercial sex 
work under the threat of being reported to the Migration 
Department if they refuse. 
18F.  (SBU)  As a country of origin for internal trafficking, 
impoverished families with low levels of education are 
principal targets for traffickers.  NGO Alianza Por Tus 
Derechos explained that trafficking victims rarely want to 
press charges against their trafficker because the GOCR 
cannot provide the security needed to ensure the traffickers 
do not harm the victim as a reprisal.  Therefore, it is 
difficult to identify the traffickers.  Defense for Children 
International reported that traffickers are generally 
foreigners who have links with nightclubs and hotels.  NGO 
Fundacion Rahab reported that truck drivers who regularly 
drive across the border are often trafficking women and 
children in the back of their cabs.  Taxi drivers also often 
knowingly traffic girls to their clients. 
The trafficking crimes investigative unit explained that many 
times the victims are recruited by local people known to 
them, possibly a neighbor or an acquaintance.  The heads of 
the trafficking operations, however, are mostly foreigners, 
including Uruguayans, Cubans, Dominicans, Colombians, and 
Americans.  The unit told Poloff that Chinese individuals 
generally only traffic people from China.  Traffickers 
sometimes provide their victims with false documents. 
Methods used to approach the victims include false offers of 
lucrative employment. Often females are offered jobs as 
exotic dancers in nightclubs, but they are told that the 
club's customers will not be allowed to touch them in any 
way.  Defense For Children International reported that 
advertisements via internet and newspapers for hotel staff 
and models are used to lure females.  The Public Security 
Ministry reported that there are cases of young Costa Rican 
women who were lured overseas by false employment offers 
promising a USD 1,500 weekly salary in addition to paid 
With regard to internal and regional (between Costa Rica and 
its neighboring countries of Nicaragua and Panama) 
trafficking, female minors aged 12-18 are usually trafficked 
in the back of semi-truck cabs.  The minors are either 
approached by recruiters in the street who then take them to 
the vehicles, or they look for rides themselves.  Sometimes 
the victims already know the truck drivers.  These girls are 
generally extremely poor and come from families unable to 
provide for them.  In some internal trafficking cases, the 
girls are transported to hotels in the hotels' own vehicles. 
18G.  (SBU) The GOCR is mainly focused on combating 
commercial sexual exploitation of minors.  On May 18 2004, 
President Pacheco publicly committed to combat "on all fronts 
and with all resources the commercial sexual exploitation of 
minors."   Because of a lack of resources, the GOCR places 
little emphasis on the trafficking of adults.  There is some 
confusion within the government about the difference between 
trafficking and smuggling.  It is difficult for NGOs and 
international organizations to work with the GOCR on 
trafficking because the GOCR thinks that it is already taking 
significant steps to combat the problem, which it defines 
narrowly as commercial sexual exploitation of minors.   There 
are groups of individuals within the government who are 
knowledgeable about the differences between trafficking, 
smuggling, and commercial exploitation, but they are largely 
at the working level.  Individuals at the policy-making level 
are focused on a draft Migration Bill that has now been in 
the Legislative Assembly since 2001.  The law would 
criminalize "trafico" which is interpreted in Costa Rica as 
either smuggling or trafficking.  The draft bill does not 
make the distinction.  Investigators, prosecutors, and judges 
have all commented to Poloff that the lack of a specific law 
against trafficking impedes their ability to prosecute and 
convict traffickers. 
In broad terms, GOCR means to combat trafficking can be 
divided into three categories:  investigations, 
capacity-building of officials involved in combating 
trafficking, and legislative efforts to pass laws and decrees 
for the prevention, prosecution, and eradication of 
commercial sexual exploitation.  The Public Security 
Ministry,s commercial sexual exploitation unit consists of 
23 investigators (nine in the capital and 14 in the 
provinces) and 19 administrative staff.  The OIJ,s 
trafficking crimes investigative unit consists of three 
investigators.  The Public Force (which does police work) 
special investigative unit created a cyber-crimes unit to 
identify and break up cyber child pornography rings, 
investigate pedophile rings, and contribute to the 
eradication of commercial sexual exploitation under the 
direction of a Special Prosecutor. 
According to ILO, the GOCR has worked to establish better 
migration controls.  The GOCR's National Commission Against 
Sexual Exploitation of Minors (CONACOES) meets regularly to 
discuss efforts being taken to combat commercial sexual 
exploitation of minors.  The Commission is divided into three 
sub-commissions: prevention, assistance for victims and their 
families, and judicial affairs.  IOM reported that the GOCR 
participated in developing the Regional Work Plan on 
Smuggling and Trafficking for the Regional Migration 
Conference.  Specifically, the GOCR approved a regional 
information campaign on the risks and consequences of 
trafficking in persons.  The GOCR has also been active in the 
Central American Migration Directors, Commission (OCAM). 
Last year, within the context of this group, the GOCR 
proposed the creation of a database that would include 
information on foreigners linked to commercial sexual 
exploitation of minors.  In order to increase its prevention 
efforts, the GOCR also proposed capacity-building for 
migration officials on children,s rights and identifying 
risky situations in which commercial sexual exploitation 
could occur.  Further, the Migration Department, in 
conjunction with IOM and ILO, has offered specialized 
technical training on trafficking and commercial sexual 
exploitation of minors to employees of other Migration 
Departments throughout the region. 
18H.  (SBU)  NGO Casa Por Tus Derechos reported that border 
officials regularly accept sexual favors in return for 
allowing improperly documented adult and minor females to 
cross into Costa Rica.  The NGO also noted that in 2004 a 
local television station produced a documentary in which it 
showed traffickers on the Nicaraguan-Costa Rican border 
paying off local authorities in order to get their victims 
across.  As a result, the officials were separated from their 
duties while an administrative investigation was conducted 
into the misbehavior.  According to the trafficking crimes 
investigative unit, it costs USD 800 in bribes to 
successfully cross all of the border points between Costa 
Rica and Mexico illegally.  NGO Fundacion Rahab told Poloff 
that in December 2004, two female minors accused two 
employees of the local branch of the Comptroller General's 
office in the Caribbean coastal town Limon of commercial 
sexual exploitation of minors.  The charges are currently 
being investigated.  The Public Security Ministry reported 
that it has no information regarding government officials 
involved with or complicit in trafficking activities. 
18I.  (SBU)  In practice, the GOCR has substantial financial 
limitations on its ability to address the trafficking issue. 
The Public Security Ministry reported that it lacks the human 
and financial resources needed to hire more investigators, 
carry out undercover operations, acquire the necessary 
technology, and pay informants.  The Children's Welfare 
Institution (PANI) does not have the resources to maintain 
the number of shelters needed to accommodate trafficking and 
commercial sexual exploitation victims who are minors.  There 
are no shelters specifically for trafficking victims.  Save 
the Children, Defense for Children International, IOM, and 
ILO all reported that the government lacks the resources 
needed to provide victims with the necessary rehabilitation 
services.  There is no systemized operation to provide 
assistance to victims waiting to be repatriated. 
Investigators in the specialized trafficking crimes unit told 
Poloff that they regularly take up collections in their 
office to feed victims who are stuck without food or a place 
to stay while they wait to be sent back home.  The ILO 
lamented that victims assistance programs are financed mainly 
by IOs and NGOs.  The GOCR, according to the ILO, provides 
shelter to minors and does not focus on how to keep the 
minors from being re-victimized once they leave the shelter. 
IOM reported that the GOCR does not have the funds to train 
government officials or provide victims the rehabilitation 
services they require.  Save the Children reported that the 
government is limited in its capacity to combat trafficking 
largely because the government officials responsible for 
leading the fight are not adequately trained and have 
difficulties identifying the crime. 
Additionally, the trafficking crimes investigative unit 
investigators complained that there is little coordination 
between the different organizations involved in combating 
trafficking.  IOM and Save the Children expressed the same 
concern to Poloff, and have committed to hiring a short-term 
consultant to help improve the channels of communication 
between the NGOs, international organizations, and government 
institutions involved.  NGO Alianza Por Tus Derechos lamented 
that there is an overall lack of understanding among the 
population about trafficking; most people think that victims 
are simply prostitutes who engage willingly in commercial sex 
work.  The populace, according to the NGO, does not see a 
need to do anything to help "whores."  The three 
investigators in the trafficking crimes investigative unit 
explained that they have to conduct exhaustive investigations 
because they are basically searching for acceptable evidence 
in order to prosecute traffickers under other related 
statutes, which are hard to prove, like slavery.  Finally, 
lack of clarity on the difference between smuggling and 
trafficking among certain areas of the government as well as 
in draft legislation also limits the government's ability to 
address the trafficking issue (please see paragraph 18G for 
more information). 
18J.  (SBU)  The GOCR's National Commission Against Sexual 
Exploitation of Minors (CONACOES) meets regularly to discuss 
efforts to combat commercial sexual exploitation of minors. 
The Commission is divided into three sub-commissions: 
prevention, assistance for victims and their families, and 
judicial affairs. 
18K.  (SBU)  Prostitution for individuals over the age of 18 
in Costa Rica is legal. Pimping is a crime punishable by two 
to five years in prison.  Brothel owners and operators are 
subject to the same sanctions as pimps.  Article 169 of title 
three of the Criminal Code states that anyone who "promotes 
the prostitution of persons of any sex, or induces them to 
engage in it or maintains them as prostitutes or recruits 
them with this goal will be sanctioned with the punishment of 
two to five years in prison."  According to Article 170 of 
title three, if the individuals involved are minors, or if 
the pimp uses deception, violence, abuse of authority, 
intimidation, coercion, or family connections or other close 
relationships of confidence then the sanction is increased to 
four to ten years in prison. 
19A.  (SBU)  The GOCR recognizes that trafficking is a 
problem.  As mentioned in paragraph 18G, there is some 
confusion among some government officials about the 
differences between trafficking, smuggling, and commercial 
sexual exploitation.  Some officials use the terms 
interchangeably, and therefore officials may think they are 
addressing the issue of trafficking when in fact they are 
speaking about one aspect of it.  In Costa Rica's case, the 
majority of efforts and resources are focused on commercial 
sexual exploitation of minors.  For example, the National 
Commission Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Minors 
(CONACOES) is focused on commercial sexual exploitation, and 
trafficking is considered as one modality of this type of 
19B.  (SBU)  Government agencies involved in anti-trafficking 
efforts include the Ministry of Public Security, the 
Migration Department, the Children's Welfare Institution, 
Judicial Investigative Police (OIJ), the Office of the Chief 
Prosecutor, and the Ombudsman's Office. 
19C.  (SBU)  The Migration Department conducted a national 
public information campaign designed to warn tourists who 
might be interested in sexual tourism.  The campaign included 
putting up posters in airports and placing inserts in 
immigration documents that warned incoming tourists of the 
sanctions against commercial sexual exploitation of minors. 
There are also billboards along the routes to major beach 
hotels.  The GOCR also implemented a national information 
campaign about commercial sexual exploitation, but the 
campaign did not specifically address the issue of 
trafficking in persons.  Post does not have research data on 
the campaign,s effectiveness. 
ILO reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs developed 
an initiative to sensitize Costa Rican diplomats to the issue 
of trafficking and how to help prevent and detect it, as well 
as how to respond in a timely fashion to victims they 
identify.  A poster display containing information about 
commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking was sent to 
all employees of the Costa Rican Foreign Service.  A training 
manual was also produced that will be used to train Costa 
Rican diplomats on how to help combat trafficking in minors. 
The manual is currently being printed and will be distributed 
to all Costa Rican diplomatic missions.  Further, the ILO and 
the Migration Department provided training to border 
officials on how to help prevent trafficking.  The training 
included instruction on the difference between smuggling of 
labor migrants and trafficking; the responsibility of 
migration officials to prevent, detect, and report 
trafficking cases they identify; and the officials' 
obligation to protect trafficking victims.  Post does not 
have information on the campaign,s effectiveness. 
The Ministry of Public Security reported that the Migration 
Department is currently working with the ILO to create a 
national protocol on assistance for trafficked minors. 
Additionally, the Migration Department conducted a national 
public information campaign with Defense for Children 
International and Save the Children Sweden on combating 
smuggling and trafficking of minors.  The campaign consisted 
of placing pamphlets and posters in all Migration Department 
offices.   The Migration Department also now includes the 
following language on immigration forms: "Sexual exploitation 
of minors is a crime in Costa Rica.  Report it by dialing 
911."  Post does not have information on the campaign,s 
NGO Paniamor reported that it has been working with the 
Ministry of Public Security to provide training to police 
nationwide on police intervention with children and 
adolescents that are either victims or are at risk of being 
sexually exploited.  The Ministry and Paniamor developed a 
pocket-sized manual of "Norms and Procedures" for police 
intervention in such cases.  Paniamor also coordinated with 
the National Police Training Academy to develop a 40-hour 
curriculum about commercial sexual exploitation that will be 
included in the basic police-training course as of May 2005. 
Post does not have information on the campaign,s 
19D.  (SBU)  Defense for Children International reported that 
the GOCR supports capacity-building training for its 
employees.  NGO Alianza Por Tus Derechos reported that 
several police officers have sought training on trafficking 
from the NGO without the knowledge of their supervisors. 
According to Alianza, the policemen told Alianza that their 
supervisors were not supportive of their desire to receive 
this training, considering it a distraction from more urgent 
IOM and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that the 
GOCR has programs that indirectly help to prevent 
trafficking. For example, the Women's Ministry has programs 
that support the role of a mother in ensuring her children 
remain in school; programs to support adolescent mothers; and 
programs to involve women in micro-enterprise.  The Ministry 
also provides school vouchers and scholarships to help offset 
education costs that can be prohibitive to low-income 
ILO reported that the Judicial Investigative Police (OIJ), 
the Migration Department, and the Children's Welfare Ministry 
partnered with Save the Children's effort to create a web 
page containing a list of and information about minors who 
have disappeared.  Additionally, OIJ, the Children's Welfare 
Institution, and the Public Security Ministry signed an 
agreement with the International Center for Missing and 
Exploited Children (ICMEC) that allows for the search and 
rescue of minors who have disappeared and been subjected to 
different types of exploitation. 
19E.  (SBU)  Due to budget restraints, the GOCR is limited in 
the financial resources it has available to fund trafficking 
prevention programs.  Instead, the GOCR has sought low-cost 
alternatives to help prevent trafficking, such as the 
initiatives outlined in paragraph 19D. 
19F.  (SBU)  Investigators from the OIJ's special trafficking 
crimes investigative unit, a judge from the children and 
adolescence department, IOM, Save the Children, Alianza Por 
Tus Derechos, and Fundacion Rahab all reported that there is 
a lack of organization between the GOCR, international 
organizations, and local NGOs working on trafficking.  During 
the course of interviews conducted to collect information for 
this report, Poloff noted that on several occasions the 
actors involved were unaware that their efforts were being 
duplicated elsewhere within the anti-trafficking community. 
To help improve the situation, IOM and Save the Children have 
joined together to hire a short-term consultant to help 
facilitate dialog and build institutional relationships among 
the relevant organizations.  Government officials and NGO 
representatives both complained about the Child Welfare 
Ministry's lack of responsiveness and inability to provide 
necessary services to identified victims or at-risk youth. 
19G.  (SBU)  The Migration Department reported that it has 
taken actions directed at exercising better control over the 
entry and exit of minors into and out of Costa Rica.  IOM 
reported that despite the existence of border controls at 
each international border (with Nicaragua and Panama), there 
are an unknown number of unofficial border crossing points 
over which the border control officials have no control. 
Post has no knowledge of GOCR efforts to monitor immigration 
and emigration patterns for evidence of trafficking. 
19H.  (SBU)  The National Commission Against Sexual 
Exploitation (CONACOES) meets regularly to discuss efforts 
being taken to combat commercial sexual exploitation of 
minors.  The Commission is divided into three 
sub-commissions: prevention, assistance for victims and their 
families, and judicial affairs.  There is currently no 
mechanism to coordinate communication between agencies 
involved in combating trafficking (please see paragraph 19F 
for more information).  The GOCR does not have a 
trafficking-in-persons task force.  The GOCR does have a 
public corruption task force, located in the Office of the 
Deputy Attorney General for Ethics. 
19I.  (SBU)  The Ministry of Public Security reported that it 
cooperates with other countries' migration departments, 
Interpol, and the FBI to identify and detain suspected 
traffickers the Ministry is investigating.  Additionally, the 
GOCR partnered with the International Center for Missing and 
Exploited Children (ICMEC) and created a specialized team of 
60 government employees from the Public Security Ministry, 
the Judicial Investigative Police (OIJ), the Children's 
Welfare Institution, and Interpol with the goal of supporting 
the identification and tracking of pedophiles.  They intend 
to do this by offering information to the general public on 
commercial sexual exploitation, making computers available 
for individuals to file charges against pedophiles 
electronically, and training police to track internet sites 
that sexually exploit minors. 
The GOCR participates in the Commission of Central American 
Migration Directors (OCAM)(which includes trafficking in its 
general work plan) and the Regional Conference on Migration 
Also, a declaration against commercial sexual exploitation of 
minors was issued during the Sixth Conference of Ministers 
and Government Employees Involved in Protecting Youth and 
Adolescents Latin America, which was held in Costa Rica in 
October 2004. 
19J.  (SBU)  The GOCR does not have a national action plan to 
address trafficking in persons.  The National Child and 
Adolescence Plan refers to prevention of trafficking and 
protection of victims. 
19K.  (SBU)  The National Commission Against Sexual 
Exploitation of Minors (CONACOES) meets regularly to discuss 
efforts being taken to combat commercial sexual exploitation 
of minors.  The Commission is divided into three 
sub-commissions: prevention, assistance for victims and their 
families, and judicial affairs.  One of the founding members 
of the Commission lamented privately to Poloff that the 
Commission has not functioned properly since its creation due 
to the lack of a budget.  Another NGO representative also 
shared this opinion with Poloff.  Another NGO reported that 
another difficulty with CONACOES is that the Ministries 
represented do not send decision-makers to the meetings, so 
it is difficult to get things done. 
20A-B.  (SBU)  Costa Rica does not have a specific law 
prohibiting trafficking in persons.  However, trafficking is 
codified in Title III (known as the Law Against Sexual 
Exploitation of Minors) and Title XVII (which deals with 
human rights crimes of an international nature) of the 
Criminal Code.  Articles 156 to 163 of Title III were revised 
in August 1999 to include sexual crimes against minors.   The 
reforms broadened the situations and conditions under which 
such crimes are penalized. 
Article 169, which criminalizes pimping, states: "Anyone who 
promotes the prostitution of persons of any gender, maintains 
them in prostitution or induces them to practice prostitution 
or recruits them for this purpose will be sanctioned with a 
prison term of two to five years.  The same sentence will be 
imposed for those who maintain a person in sexual servitude." 
Article 170 criminalizes aggravated pimping with a 4-10 year 
prison term as the penalty for individuals who: pimp minors 
under 18 years of age; use deceit, violence, abuse of 
authority, or exploitation of the victim's situation of 
necessity; use any means of intimidation or coercion; have a 
sibling or blood relationship or have a custodial 
relationship or has a tutor/teacher relationship; or have a 
relationship of confidence with the victim or the family, 
regardless of kinship.  Under Article 170, the will of the 
victim (i.e. the victim's consent to engage in prostitution) 
is considered irrelevant to the offense. 
Article 172 deals with trafficking in persons.  It says, 
"Anyone who promotes, facilitates,