Ministry Raises Eyebrows With Executive Pardon

January 19, 2007

Though Costa Rica’s Criminal Code allows the Executive Branch to pardon prisoners, no presidential administration had used this tool in almost a decade – until late last year, when the Justice Ministry pardoned a young mother serving time for robbing a taxi driver.

Justice Minister Laura Chinchilla told the daily La Nación that the administration will use the pardon only “for humanitarian reasons” and will not apply it to convictions for drug trafficking, organized crime, corruption, or convictions of more than 10 years.

However, the Criminal Code itself puts no limits on the use of the executive pardon. Former Justice Minister José Miguel Villalobos, who, when serving under President Abel Pacheco (2002-2006), did not use the pardon, said using it opens the door to corruption.

“It’s subject to arbitrariness and abuses of power,” he told the daily. “There are ways, (such as) filing for review and annulment, to avoid injustice. Erasing a judicial action can have a dangerous institutional effect.”

Villalobos argued the recent pardon sets an unsettling precedent, considering that ex-Presidents Rafael Angel Calderón (1990-1994) and Miguel Angel Rodríguez (1998-2002) are awaiting trial for corruption and could eventually benefit from a pardon.

Chinchilla called this reasoning “irresponsible” and said she is working on a document that would define who is and is not eligible for pardon under the administration of President Oscar Arias.

Recently pardoned Jennifer Jiménez, 23, a former drug addict who had begun to serve five years in jail for stealing ¢25,000 (approximately $48.54) from a pirata, or unlicensed taxi, in 2003, has made significant changes in her life.While she awaited trial, Jiménez began working, caring for her young daughter Gabriela, and studying to complete her high school graduation exams, La Nación reported.

“When I got home, I started filling out applications. I want to start working,” she told the daily. “There are a lot of lessons in jail –there are good and bad people.But now I want to get ahead for Gabriela and my family.”

 

You may be interested

Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas, Real Madrid nab third consecutive Champions title
Keylor Navas
57 views
Keylor Navas
57 views

Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas, Real Madrid nab third consecutive Champions title

Katherine Stanley - May 26, 2018

Costa Rica's star goalie, Keylor Navas, continued his historic march through world football as his club team, Real Madrid, won…

Adaptive surfing, part III: Riding the waves with Noah
sports
151 views
sports
151 views

Adaptive surfing, part III: Riding the waves with Noah

Ellen Zoe Golden - May 25, 2018

Part III in a series on adaptive surfing in Costa Rica. Read Part I, about the country's association for disabled…

It’s frog orgy season
Environment and Wildlife
1256 views
Environment and Wildlife
1256 views

It’s frog orgy season

Lindsay Fendt - May 25, 2018

The rainy season is upon us. For many of us that means hiding indoors for the next few months, but for Costa…