chapter  8
10 Pages

Costa Rica: Ending Physical and Humiliating Punishment in a Central American Country

ByMILENA GRILLO

Costa Rica is a country located in the midst of the Central American Region. Its origins go back to 1821, when it declared its independence from the Spanish Empire to become a provincial member of a new regional political body, constituted then as the Federal Republic of Central America. In 1856, Costa Rica separated from this body to become a sovereign and independent country. This nation’s history attests to the sustainability of its democratic order, one of the strongest in Latin America. Costa Rica holds the record for being the only country in its region making the list of the 23 oldest democracies of the world. The country gained international recognition for abolishing its army in 1948, and then turning this decision into a legal provision under its Constitutional Charter of 1949. Ever since that time, the country has directed its national savings to social investment. This explains the country’s current position in several international development indices (e.g., 6th in the region on the United Nations Human

Development Index; 3rd worldwide on the Environmental Performance Index). Costa Rica has built a strong coherent legal framework for the protection of children’s rights, based on a Child Rights Charter adopted in 1949, 30 years before the adoption of the 1979 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). In 2008, the country reformed its law to guarantee full legal protection to children and adolescents from all forms of corporal punishment and humiliating treatment in all settings, including the family.