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IDB supports violence prevention in Costa Rica

Loan will finance a program to reduce juvenile crime, promote social reintegration, and improve police effectiveness

Costa Rica will support children and youth at risk for criminal activities, rehabilitate people in conflict with the law, and strengthen the institutional capacity of the country’s police force through a violence prevention program partly financed by a $132.4 million loan approved by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). 

The program will also support the creation of an agency to manage knowledge on violence prevention, the first of its kind in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Citizen security is a major concern for Costa Ricans, and their government has made it a priority to address the issue before it becomes a threat to governance and the economy. 

Costa Rica had a rate of 11.6 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2009. But while this rate is the lowest in Central America, it has been steadily rising. The homicide rate increased 33.3 percent from 2004 to 2006 and 37.5 percent from 2007 to 2009.

The program will impact 39 percent of the vulnerable population in seven cantons―Desamparados, Pococí, Heredia, Santa Cruz, Puntarenas, Cartago, and Alajuela― where social prevention activities for children and youth at risk will be developed. 

The program will focus on the following activities:

Children and youth at risk: The program will focus on children and youth who have dropped out of school and who have not completed high school. It will include the construction and equipping of state- and community-managed centers in the Casas de Justicia project, which will promote conflict resolution and address gender violence, among other issues. Support will also be provided for curriculum development and the equipping and development of schools of music, art and sports, as well as for centers for early childhood care and development. These activities will involve both public and private participation.

Social reintegration for people in conflict with the law: The program will fund training and the treatment of addiction for people within the country’s institutional and semi-institutional system. This includes the design, construction, and equipping of educational and vocational centers, whose business plans will be designed to meet local economic and training needs; the centers will be accredited by the National Learning Institute. In the Community Care Program, incentives will be established for the utilization of cost-efficient technologies to prevent recidivism and optimize the input of the staff of the General Directorate of Social Rehabilitation. Incentives will also be provided directly to the private sector to promote mechanisms through which former prison inmates can find employment, thereby helping to help prevent recidivism.

Strengthening institutional capacity: The program will also support measures to increase the effectiveness of the national police force, including construction of the police academy and the development of its curriculum. Emphasis will be placed on studies on violence prevention and improving the process for recruiting police officers and their integration into the civil service. The academy will be a central element in strengthening capacity for impact evaluations, which will include maximizing the use of information systems, decision-making through use of information technology, transparency and modernization of the professional career system. The goal is to strengthen and improve the efficiency of the police force as well as of the penitentiary guard force.

The IDB loan is for a term of 25 years with a grace period of five years and an interest rate based on LIBOR. The Republic of Costa Rica will contribute $55.3 million to the program, which will be carried out by the Ministry of Justice and Peace.

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