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Costa Rica Feb 08 2013

 

Costa Rica Opens Two Pilot Drug Treatment Courts with OAS Support

Feb 08,2013

Costa Rica has set in motion a partnership between its court system and government by setting up a Program for Drug Treatment Under Judicial Supervision, starting with the first two pilot drug treatment courts in San Jose, in collaboration with the Organization of American States, through the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD).

A Drug Treatment Court (DTC) is an innovative approach to dealing with non-violent criminal offenses related to drug addiction, placing offenders in treatment under court supervision, instead of sending them to jail.  The program also aims to lower the prison population, as well as the associated expenditure.  The new courts will open at two locations, downtown San Jose and the suburb of Pavas. 

Former Vice-Minister of the Presidency for Security Affairs and CICAD chair  Mauricio Boraschi said, “This project offers alternatives to those people who commit misdemeanors, for which the commission of crime involves drug addiction, for whom the system offers an opportunity on three points: treatment, dealing with the criminal system in a different way, and reinsertion into society, and for which the commitment of multiple sectors is vital.”

On behalf of the Organization of American States, its representative in Costa Rica, Henry Jova underscored the commitment that the government of Costa Rica has had to achieve this initiative. The OAS has assisted Costa Rica for the past two years, with funding from the government of Canada.

The ceremony capped off two days of specialized training for the team of professionals that will be handling DTC cases, including judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and treatment providers, among others. The OAS brought DTC experts judges, Judge Rogelio Flores of the United States, Judge Alberto Amiot of Chile, and Dr. Jesus Salazar of Mexico, to share their experience in the seminar.

Speaking as the coordinator of this judicial initiative, Dr. Doris Arias Madrigal, said that this program “… favors the democratic ideal that our Constitution inspires in us, under which all are guaranteed equality, inclusion, that all voices are heard, that justice is done, and that people take control of their lives and can participate in the decision making that affects them.”

Costa Rica is now the second country to launch a DTC pilot project under the OAS’s Drug Treatment Courts in the Americas program. Trinidad and Tobago launched a pilot program in San Fernando in September 2012.  Barbados and the Dominican Republic will follow their example later this year.  This approach has been successfully implemented in countries such as Canada, the United States, Chile and Jamaica.

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updated on 9/4/2013 12:05:42 PM