San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica organized crime bill ‘needs a lot of work'

A much-touted organized-crime bill is going back to the Legislative Assembly´s drawing board after the assembly´s legal review committee found several problems with the text.

Libertarian legislator and committee chair Luis Barrantes pointed his frustrations in the delay at the review board. “We submitted this Oct. 18, 2008, and it is January now. It´s almost four months late,” he said Wednesday.

The board´s review of the bill´s second executive version came out Thursday and was a long way from a stamp of approval.

“I wouldn´t say it´s completely disorganized,” said Yamil Chacón, the board lawyer who reviewed the bill. “But there are some (articles) that are very irregular.”

Much of the text, he said, is inconsistent, with certain paragraphs contradicting others, making the bill legally invalid.

One of the biggest problems is the bill´s treatment of wiretaps for businesses. The bill currently proposes to revoke business licenses of those companies that decline to allow wiretaps on their offices, which brings up “constitutional problems” regarding the rights of firms and business owners, said Chacón.

Nor does the bill clearly define the creation and structure of a new police information sharing program and a Commission on Critical Events.

“It needs a lot of work,” said Chacón, but the necessary reviews and edits could be done “within a month.”

In related news, the Public Security Ministry named Oldemar Madrigal as one of the ministry´s three vice ministers, replacing outgoing José Torres. Madrigal, 59, a pilot, has worked in the ministry since 1967, serving as director of the ministry´s National Air Patrol from 1994 to 1998 and again from 2005 to the present, and briefly also as director of the National Police from 2006 to 2007. He is the sixth vice minister to serve under Minister Janina del Vecchio since she took office last April.

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