San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Assembly Considers Laws to Protect Senior Citizens

WITH the goal of improving the living conditions of the country’s senior citizens, the Legislative Assembly is considering a set of laws to enforce the rights of senior citizens and establish heavy sanctions against those who violate these rights.Among the regulations outlined in the bill is a one-third increase in penalties for crimes established in the county’s penal code when they involve a senior victim, according to Zulema Villalta, legal advisor for the National Senior Citizen Council (CONAPAM), an institution that participated in drafting the bill.The bills also details the procedures to follow in judicial cases involving seniors, such as avoiding direct contact between senior victims and their aggressors, and establishes the duties of the Social Security System (Caja) to seniors, such as enforcing their right to permanent accompaniment during stays in hospitals, she said.“There is a legal vacuum – we lack regulations to sanction attitudes that scorn, and discriminate against, seniors,” Villalta told journalists at a press conference yesterday.According to Villalta, the bill was created to fill this vacuum, left by a 1999 Senior Citizen Law that “does not establish regulations that force institutions and people to fulfill the law.”According to Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) legislator Rodolfo Delgado, the assembly in May unanimously approved the formation of a legislative committee made up of five legislators to review the proposed senior citizens’ code. Delgado told The Tico Times he hopes to see the bill approved before the end of his term in April 2006.

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