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On March 21, 2013, at its Twenty-first Meeting, the Committee of Experts of the Mechanism for Follow-Up to the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) adopted a Report on the Implementation in Costa Rica of various provisions of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. This is the fourth such report that has been issued by the MESICIC in relation to Costa Rica’s implementation of this Convention.

A significant portion of the report focused on examination of those oversight bodies in Costa Rica with responsibility for the prevention, detection, punishment and eradication of acts of corruption. Accordingly, the report examines the following government institutions: the Office of Public Ethics (PEP); the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic (CGR); the Office of the Ombudsman (DHR); the Probity, Transparency, and Anticorruption Prosecution Unit (FAPTA); and the Criminal Taxation and Civil Service Jurisdiction. 

The examination was carried out taking into account Costa Rica’s response to a questionnaire as well as information gathered during on on-site visit conducted between October 2 and 4, 2012, by the Technical Secretariat and members of the review subgroup for Costa Rica, made up of the Dominican Republic and Grenada. During that visit, the review team met with representatives of government institutions as well with representatives of civil society organizations, the private sector, professional associations, academics, and researchers on issues of relevance to the fight against corruption. 

Some of the recommendations formulated to Costa Rica for its consideration in relation to the foregoing oversight bodies address purposes such as the following: 

Provide the oversight bodies with the financial and human resources necessary for the adequate fulfillment of its functions and responsibilities; and make the necessary arrangements with other States and cooperation organizations in order to obtain the required technical cooperation.

With respect to the PEP, strengthen the mechanisms for providing information to the public about its functions, including its Internet portal; establish training mechanisms on the concept of social harm (daño social); carry out additional follow-up with respect to compliance with the recommendations issued by the PEP and include the Ethics Prosecutors in the regime of sworn statements of assets.

With respect to the CGR, increase the number of sworn statements verified by the institution; establish a training program focused on the prevention of corruption; and establish objective criteria and parameters for the basic information contained in the Annual Reports.

With regard to the Ombudsman, maintain results on the compliance with the recommendations it issues and consider the need to grant the institution a higher rank; establish a comprehensive training program for officials of the institution; and increase the coordination with the Public Ministry.

In relation to the FAPTA, consider creating a unit made up of specialized anticorruption investigators; consider the possibility of assigning provincial anticorruption prosecutors; and maintain additional results on the fulfillment of the institution’s functions.

With respect to the Criminal Taxation and Civil Service Jurisdiction, establish a training program for judges of this jurisdiction; raise the awareness of judges regarding social harm; and include them in the system of sworn statements.

In addition, the report considered as useful for the purposes combating corruption, the best practices currently applied by Costa Rica with respect to the recovery of social harm in corruption crimes; the Program of New Audits in the CGR; and the Project for Oral Hearings and Modern Management in Judicial Dockets in the Criminal Court and the Trial Tribunal of the Second Circuit of San Jose.

In addition to the recommendations formulated to the oversight bodies, the report also followed-up on the implementation of recommendations formulated to Costa Rica in previous reports, making a determination as to which recommendations had been satisfactorily implemented, which required additional attention, and which required reformulation.

Among the progress related to the implementation of those recommendations, the following is noted: the strengthening of the mechanisms for consultation and for encouraging civil society participation in public management. Some of the recommendations formulated to Costa Rica in the First Round that remain outstanding, or which were reformulated, address purposes such as the adequate verification and publication of sworn statements of income; and the adoption of comprehensive legislation on access to information.

During this Twenty-first Meeting, similar reports were adopted for Argentina, Honduras, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago. More information, here.

Edition N° 122 - March 2013

What is the MESICIC?

The Mechanism For Follow-up on the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, known as MESICIC for its Spanish acronym, is a tool to support the development of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption through cooperation between States Parties.

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