Gov’t Annuls Controversial Health Ministry Decree

November 10, 2006

Weeks after a Public Health Ministry decree on sanitation permits caused controversy because of a clause on manufacturing weapons that are illegal here, the government republished the decree Monday without the article in question.

Under fire was one of the decree’s annexes, created by the United Nations, which categorized commercial activities by risk level. It included the manufacture of machine guns, heavy artillery and other arms illegal in Costa Rica according to the country’s Arms Law.

Health Minister María Luisa Avila told the daily La Nación that after consulting the United Nations and the Government Attorney’s Office, the ministry determined the mention of arms could be omitted.

When the original decree was published in August, legislators from the Citizen Action Party (PAC) criticized the inclusion of illegal arms, saying that President, disarmament activist and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Oscar Arias – who signed the decree – was talking the talk abroad but opening the door for arms production at home (TT, Sept. 22).

The administration has since presented a bill that would outlaw the manufacture of all firearms – certain weapons, such as non-automatic pistols and revolvers, are now legal in Costa Rica –and increase penalties for crimes committed with firearms (TT, Nov. 3).

 

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