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Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 20:11:57 -0500 (CDT)
From: owner-rapid-response@casa-alianza.org
Article: 61285
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.9292.19990418121652@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

UN "deeply concerned" over high levels of child sexual tourism in Costa Rica

Casa Alianza press release, 17 April 1999

The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations stated this week that it is "deeply concerned at the high incidence of commercial sexual exploitation of children in Costa Rica," which its states is "often related to tourism."

An April 8th, 1999 report from the UN Committees' sixty fifth session concerning the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, describes the issue of sexual exploitation of children as an "area for concern" and calls upon the State of Costa Rica to take steps to wipe it out. "The Committee urges the State party to take further measures to eradicate this phenomenon, in co-operation as appropriate with other States, through the investigation and prosecution of the crimes in question," concludes the report.

"We are very pleased that the United Nations has chosen to highlight this growing phenomenon in it's latest report on Costa Rica. It is only by discussing and exposing child sexual exploitation that we will eventually, stop and eradicate it," stated Bruce Harris the Executive Director of Casa Alianza which has its regional headquarters in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Casa Alianza, a non profit advocacy group for street children in Mexico and Central America, began to raise the alarm over child sex tourism in the region two years ago. To date the organisation has investigated and prosecuted sex tourists and other adults who sexually abuse Central American children from Germany, Switzerland, the United States, Chile, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica and Sweden.

Currently the organisation is investigating a number of child sex tourism cases here in Costa Rica, working closely with the Costa Rican Judicial Investigative Unit (OIJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States of America.

Casa Alianza has repeatedly expressed its concern that Costa Rica is being targeted by paedophiles and other child sex tourists, who are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their use of the Internet to exploit children.

"People have to learn that they can not come to Costa Rica and get away with sexually exploiting children. This is not a place where it will be permitted,&# continued Harris.

In addition to highlighting its concern over the child sexual exploitation, the United Nations Committee noted the creation of a National Board for the Protection of the Child and suggested changes within the Criminal Code which would criminalize the sexual exploitation of children.

The UN document with the concluding observations of the State of Costa Rica's April 5th, 1999 presentation to the UN Committee in Geneva, notes a total of twenty two serious "areas of concern and recommendations" regarding the social and economic situation in Costa Rica. These include:

"TheCommittee further notes with concern an increase in child labour and school drop outs, and that no effective remedies are in place".

"Thatviolence against women and domestic violence is particular is on the increase".

For further information or a full copy of the UN report, please contact Casa Alianza on +506 253 5439 or email us at <media@casa-alianza.org>

Please visit our web site at <www.casa-alianza.org>

Casa Alianza/Covenant House Latin America
SJO 1039
PO Box 025216, Miami FL 33102-5216 USA

Tel. in Costa Rica: +506-253-5439 or 253-6338
Fax in Costa Rica: +506-224-5689
Home page address: http://www.casa-alianza.org