Trafficking in human beings
Improving Prosecutors' Offices investigating skills and strategies

Costa Rica adopts a new tool for Prosecutors' Offices against sexual exploiters

San José, 11 May 2008. The Attorney General of Costa Rica made compulsory the use of the Information System for specialized public prosecutor offices for the investigation and prosecution of cases of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of minors (SISCESCO).

UNICRI welcome this decision because SISCESCO has been an objective of the UNICRI 'Action Programme Against Trafficking in Minors for Sexual Purposes' which started in 2006 with the aim of contributing to the reduction of the trafficking through the enhancement of international cooperation and information sharing.

SISCESCO is an important tool for data collection that can help the Prosecutors' Offices to build stronger cases against sexual exploiters and improve their investigating skills and strategies. It will also support the Office of the Attorney General in drawing up policies against these crimes.

The aim of the system is to provide these institutions (Fiscal'as de Delitos Sexuales) with data on crimes related to commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of minors in order to: contribute to the efficiency of the judicial processes; develop more effective national judicial strategies, public policies and methods of investigation; identify patterns of crimes and sentences and a possible profile of the offender; aid in decision-making regarding agreements of bilateral and multinational cooperation and provide information for the proper allocation of budgetary and personnel needs in regions where the problem of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children is more pronounced.

UNICRI, with the help of the local NGO Fundaci'n Paniamor applied the system in a pilot scheme in some of the Public Prosecutor's Offices since January 2007. The project ended in December 2007 when the Costa Rican government took charge of it. The actual decision of rendering compulsory the system marks the success of the experiment.

Costa Rica, together with Thailand and Ukraine, was one of the three pilot countries where the 'Action Programme Against Trafficking in Minors for Sexual Purposes' has been put in practice. Along with the creation of databases on legal cases concerning trafficked minors, which led to the development of SISCESCO, the project included: specialized training for judges, prosecutors, judicial police and migration officials; training for Hotline and Call Centre operators on the issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children, the creation of thematic websites and awareness campaigns.

Other Central and South American states have contacted UNICRI for assistance in applying the system in their countries. Given that trafficking in minors and sexual related crimes are examples of transnational crimes, the building of judicial systems that are internationally compatible is an essential step for achieving efficient mutual legal assistance.

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