The government maintained victim protection efforts. The government identified 35 trafficking victims (14 sex trafficking, 11 forced labor, two for both sex trafficking and forced labor, four for both domestic servitude and sexual exploitation, and four for sexual servitude) under the trafficking law, compared to 20 in 2018 and 34 in 2017. Of those victims exploited in sexual servitude, it was unclear whether the circumstances qualified as trafficking under international law. Nineteen of the victims were Costa Rican, 12 were Nicaraguan, one was Salvadoran, one was Venezuelan, one was Dominican, and one was Cuban. Through a specialized inter-institutional body, the Immediate Response Team (ERI), the government provided initial services to all 35 reported victims, as well as their dependents. The National Coalition against Illicit Smuggling and Trafficking of Migrants (CONATT) provided services to 48 victims, including those identified in 2019 and previous years, as did the Office of Attention and Protection of Crime Victims. The National Women’s Institute (INAMU) provided care to 31 female victims of trafficking. It was unclear how many victims received services from more than one provider. 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.
The government provides victims with access to healthcare providers, psychological services, legal counsel, financial aid, law enforcement liaison, and other services, including detoxification treatment, as required. CONATT coordinated emergency, short-term, and long-term assistance to victims. ERI, a CONATT commission, arranged short-term services for newly identified victims, including shelter, food, and medical care. CONATT favored housing victims in a network of safe houses but also managed an on-site emergency shelter dedicated to trafficking victims. The government also placed victims in a safe house operated by civil society, or a longer-term shelter for women and children. Authorities infrequently referred victims to NGO facilities. 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 reported 1.4 billion colones ($2.46 million) of anti-TIP expenditures in 2019. FONATT disbursed 172 million colones ($302,000) to provide services for identified victims, compared to 429.6 million colones ($754,000) to fund trafficking victim services in 2018 and 132 million colones ($232,000) in 2017. In 2019, the government reported there were additional expenses stemming from emergency service provision and initial contact and care for potential victims in 2019, but it could not specify the funds disbursed. 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 171.5 million colones ($301,100) to NGOs providing services to trafficking victims in 2019, compared to 160.3 million colones ($281,400) in 2018 and 97.4 million colones ($171,000) in 2017. Observers reported failure to disburse all of the allocated resources hindered the country’s ability to address its trafficking problem, despite dedicated government resources to anti-trafficking efforts, including victim services. 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 some victims temporary residency status and work permits in 2019, but did not specify how many, compared to 10 victims in 2018. Victims could testify outside of court proceedings, but authorities did not report the number of victims who did so in 2019. The government facilitated the repatriation of two victims in 2019, compared to two in 2018.