The government maintained victim protection efforts. The government identified 20 trafficking victims (eight sex trafficking, four forced labor, one both sex trafficking and forced labor, three domestic servitude, and four both domestic servitude and sexual exploitation) under the trafficking law, compared to 34 in 2017 and three in 2015. Four of the victims were Costa Rican, six were Nicaraguan, three were Honduran, two were Colombian, one was Venezuelan, two were Dominican, one was Chinese, and one was Panamanian. The government provided shelter and health, legal, and psychological services to 20 victims and 10 dependents during the reporting period, including 11 women, five men, 12 girls, and two boys. Law enforcement and immigration authorities used written procedures for identifying victims among vulnerable groups, such as migrants and individuals in prostitution, and referred identified victims to CONATT to coordinate service provision. Public officials used the “Institutional Protocol for the Care of Minors and Survivors of Trafficking in Persons” and the “Interagency Manual of Attention of Minors in Sexual Trafficking, Child Labor, and Dangerous Work” which established the steps officials must take when identifying a possible case of trafficking.
CONATT coordinated assistance to victims, including emergency, short-term, and long-term assistance, which could include food, lodging, healthcare, financial, legal, and psychological services. CONATT secured lodging in either the government’s emergency shelter dedicated to trafficking victims, a safe house operated by civil society, or a longer-term shelter for women and children. The government did not provide dedicated shelters to male trafficking victims, although the emergency shelter and safe houses could accommodate male victims, and the government worked to ensure male victims received adequate services. The government assisted minor victims through a dedicated network of shelters for minors and a government-funded NGO. Authorities had the discretion to refer victims to services on a case-by-case basis; not all victims received the same level of protection. Civil society organizations reported authorities did not always implement referral mechanisms in an effective or timely manner and recommended the government provide transportation for victims to institutions providing assistance. Through the National Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Fund (FONATT), the government disbursed 429.6 million colones ($711,860) for victim services, 583 million colones ($966,030) for prevention programs, and 150 million colones ($248,550) for investigations and prosecutions in 2018, compared to 132 million colones ($218,720) to fund trafficking victim services in 2017 and 122 million colones ($202,150) in 2016. The child welfare agency provided direct funding and a per-victim subsidy for identified victims to an NGO-run shelter for child victims. The government also directed 160.3 million colones ($265,560) to NGOs providing services to trafficking victims in 2018, compared to 97.4 million colones ($161,390) in 2017 and 91 million colones ($150,790) in 2016. Observers reported that, despite dedicated government resources to anti-trafficking efforts, including victim services, the failure to disburse all of the allocated resources hindered the country’s ability to address its trafficking problem. Costa Rican law allowed victims to obtain temporary residency status and work permits, leave the country, file civil suits against their traffickers, and provide testimony outside of court proceedings. Authorities granted 10 victims temporary residency status and work permits, and three victims refugee status in 2018 compared to two victims granted temporary residency status and work permits in 2017. Authorities reported several victims who testified outside of court proceedings in 2018 compared to 17 victims who testified outside of court proceedings in 2017. The government facilitated the repatriation of two victims in 2018, compared to one in 2017.