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Costa Rica a step closer to ratifying Inter-American Convention against Racism

September 30, 2014

President Luis Guillermo Solís on Tuesday presented a bill to the Legislative Assembly to implement the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance. If the legislature ratifies the convention, Costa Rica would become the first country in the Organization of American States to do so.

“We’re aware that the populations most affected in our country are those found in vulnerable conditions, like the case of Afro-descendent or indigenous peoples, migrants, or any number of minorities. For them and all, the principles of equality and non-discrimination should prevail,” Solís said in a statement.

The anti-racism convention would establish the government’s obligation to prevent, eliminate and punish racism, and codify protected rights.

“Every human being is equal under the law and has a right to equal protection against racism, racial discrimination, and related forms of intolerance in any sphere of life, public or private,” article 2 of the convention states.

The document defines racial discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference, in any area of public or private life, the purpose or effect of which is to nullify or curtail the equal recognition, enjoyment, or exercise of one or more human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the international instruments applicable to the States Parties.”

Costa Rica signed the convention on June 7, 2013, during the OAS General Assembly in Guatemala.

Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama and Uruguay also have signed the convention. No other country has approved the convention as a national law.

In August, Costa Rican lawmakers approved a bill in a first-round vote to reform Costa Rica’s Constitution to redefine the Central American country as a “multiethnic and plurinational” republic.

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