Laura Chinchilla is using an innovative approach to address her central campaign promise of increased citizen security: she’s asking citizens themselves to help draw the roadmap.
Last Wednesday at the Children’s Museum in downtown San José, with over 400 people in attendance, she inaugurated Polsepaz, a process of developing an “Integral and Sustainable Citizen Security Policy and the Promotion of Social Peace in Costa Rica.”
The process is being coordinated by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and involves town meeting-type sessions throughout the country, as well as workshops and a variety of other channels to collect public opinion.
People can give input on the topic over the next month via a telephone line (800-444-4444), a Facebook page, (Polsepaz Seguridad Ciudadana) an e-mail address (email@example.com) and a page on the UNDP website with questions open for comment, documents and other information related to the issue of citizen security and the consultation process (www.pnud.or.cr).
The UNDP is applying expertise in promoting citizens’ participation in developing security plans and programs gained in developing similar processes in El Salvador, Guatemala
, and Brazil.
The idea is to bring citizen security measures in line with the democratic aspirations of the country. As the 2009-2010 UNDP Human Development Report states, “Citizen security and justice systems that are intelligent and respectful of the democratic state provide for more genuine and solid security.”
At the kick-off of the process last week, Polsepaz Coordinator Lara Blanco presented data from a Latinobarómetro poll last year in which 33 percent of Costa Ricans said citizen insecurity was their biggest concern.
Currently on the UNDP’s website are three questions to which people can respond:
- How do you think the police can achieve greater closeness to the community?
- How can Costa Rica improve the protection and attention to crime victims?
- What specific recommendations would you give in order to strengthen institutions in charge of controlling delinquency (police, penal system, local governments)?
Danilo Mora, UNDP press officer, said opinions submitted in languages other than Spanish will be translated and incorporated into the findings.
The process will conclude in mid-August when the UNDP will turn in its policy recommendations based on the information collected. The expected outcome is a comprehensive crime prevention and management plan based on input from a cross-section of society, from individuals to community groups to businesses and everything in between, according to the UNDP.