Thursday, 24 September 2009

Costa Rica Creates Department of Peace

IMAGINE PEACE: "Costa Rica’s justice ministry was created to oversee the country’s penitentiary systems and supervise research on criminal behavior, but had no responsibility for crime prevention. A 1998 executive decree addressed this lapse by creating the National Directorate for the Prevention of Crime. The recent legislation takes crime prevention in a new direction, replacing the old directorate with the newly formed Directorate for the Promotion of Peace and the Peaceful Coexistence of Citizens.

“While we talk about prevention of violence, we are experiencing its effects every day. Changing the language and speaking about ‘promotion of peace’ lead[s] us to the roots of the problem,”

The ministry will take on new responsibilities, including peace promotion, violence prevention (for example, by targeting a recent increase of juvenile offenders), and an emphasis on conflict resolution.

With this change in name, the focus on prevention of violence has been shifted to promotion of peace,” says Kelly Isola of the Rasur Foundation, the Costa Rican nongovernmental organization that proposed the law in 2005. Having a department of peace, she said, will enable Costa Rica “to benefit from international experiences, which demonstrate that a culture of peace has positive effects in the reduction of violence and crime.”"

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