The homicide rate of Costa Rica has suddenly leapfrogged, prompting the country’s President to request an emergency meeting with the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice to find a legal solution to the crisis.
According to Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Agency, there were 164 murders in the first 73 days of 2023, a 20% increase from the same period last year.
According to data released by the agency, at least one homicide occurs every 12 hours in the country of just five million people, with the province of San Jose reporting the highest kill count.
Most homicides are attributed to drug gangs, which in recent months have been fighting among themselves to control domestic cocaine sales and the seaports that often serve as transit points for Colombian drugs en route to Europe and the United States.
Former President Laura Chinchilla confirmed that an increasing number of Costa Ricans are getting addicted to drugs these days. “Our own people are using drugs and making it possible for these crime groups to exist,” Chinchilla told Washington Post.
As pressure builds up around the government to deal with the drug gangs, Rodrigo Arias, President of the Legislative Assembly, told reporters that as many as five legislative bills would be tabled shortly to strengthen the criminal justice system.
Punishing those in possession of weapons, setting minimum jail sentences for certain offenses and tapping telephone calls of suspected criminals are among the options the government is considering in its bid to stem the violence.
President Rodrigo Chaves will meet the Supreme Court Justice along with Arias.