New Security Proposal Draws Criticism

July 28, 2006

A proposal by Public Security Minister Fernando Berrocal to authorize 18,000 private security guards to carry out some police tasks has triggered concern among lawmakers. They’ve asked the minister to explain his plans to them and postpone signing the proposal.

Elizabeth Fonseca, a legislator with the Citizen Action Party (PAC), expressed doubts about the training of the private security guards, controls over what companies would be contracted and an outstanding debt of ¢2.3 billion ($4.5 million) some of these companies have with the Costa Rican Social Security System (Caja), according to the daily La Nación.

Berrocal assured legislators that the functions of the security guards would be limited to providing information to police officers in their fight against crime. He explained they would not assume tasks such as arrests, chases, closing highways and evictions.

Legislators from PAC have also questioned supposed ties between private security companies and Vice-Minister of Public Security Rafael Gutiérrez and the director of the nation’s police force, Osvaldo Alpízar.

Berrocal, however, insists no conflict of interest exists because the two officials resigned from their companies before taking the government positions, according to the daily.

Fonseca requested that Berrocal postpone signing the agreement with security companies, originally scheduled for Aug. 4, until lawmakers have a chance to review the proposal in more detail.

 

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