Costa Rica Ends 2023 with Record 907 homicides

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By LatAm Reports Editor

Costa Rica closed 2023 with the historical figure of 907 homicides, an increase of 38.6% compared to 654 in the same period of 2022, the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ) reported Tuesday.

In an official report, the OIJ stressed that the country had stability during the years 2015 to 2021 with an average of 577, with a rate close to 11 per 100,000 inhabitants, but from 2022 there is a significant increase in the number of homicides recorded in the country.

The director of the agency, Randall Zúñiga, indicated at a press conference that the rate per 100,000 inhabitants in 2022 was 12.5 while in 2023 it reached 17.2 euros.

The largest increase in homicides occurred in the last months of the year, October, November and December. San José is the province with the most homicides with a total of 220, 86% more compared to 2022, then there is 214 cases with 214 cases, 45% more,” Zúñiga explained.

The authorities attribute the murders, for the most part, to disputes between drug trafficking gangs, which is reflected in the number of homicides due to reckoning or revenge that represented 634 cases, for a growth of 70% compared to 2022.

The OIJ expects that by 2024 the number of homicides will go down in about 100 or 200 cases.

Eighty-next of the killings were carried out with a firearm, 10.2% with a knife and 9.3% in another way. According to the report, most of these homicides (81.1 per cent) were executed by attackers on a motorcycle.

Structural and legal changes

Zúñiga stressed that the country is experiencing this level of violence due to the social context, so work must be done on structural changes, from improved education, access to jobs, as well as invest in security and research, as well as the need for the construction of penal institutions.

Is there a structural issue that is generating homicides and is education. Fewer and fewer young people are staying in educational establishments and do not complete their studies. They are young people who will not be able to join the labor force and are in the productive age, the director said.

“Fining you don’t have studies, he added, they don’t have formal jobs and they’re going to be tempted to work as members of organized groups with simple positions and then they climb, they get to be triggers and there they go, it’s cheap labor for criminal groups,” Zúñiga said.

The expert also said that there is a legal framework that must be worked in Costa Rica, such as the execution of the sentence, changes in pretrial detention, as well as higher penalties when there are crimes against the police.

“There is not a magic formula or a single ingredient to lower these homicides, it is the sum of all this,” Zúñiga sentenced.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in El Mundo