Costa Rica’s congress approved on Tuesday a bill that extends the statute of limitations for the crime of sexual abuse of minors.
The initiative, known as Derecho al Tiempo (“Right to Time”), increases the statute of limitations for sexual offenses against minors from the current 10 years to 25, starting from when the victim reaches adulthood (at 18).
“It is a time that will allow for the doors of justice to be open when those victims are prepared, overcome the traumas, reconstruct the facts, and touch the door of justice,” said deputy government official Enrique Sanchez, project promoter.
The legislator supported the initiative prepared by Michael Rodriguez and Anthony Venegas, who denounced a Catholic priest for allegedly having sexually abused them when they were teenagers. However, both accusations were filed after the expiration of the 10-year statute of limitations.
The initiative was approved in only two months, a very short time for the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica.
According to Sanchez, that suggests that many of the deputies believe the victims.
“That we are on their side and that we are doing what is necessary to guarantee them effective access to justice,” he said.
Rodríguez and Venegas denounced for alleged sexual abuse the priest Mauricio Víquez, who was recently disbarred by the Vatican after accumulating at least nine accusations against him.
The priest left Costa Rica in January and is currently facing an international arrest warrant from Interpol.
Víquez left Costa Rica after a complaint for which the statute of limitations has not expired, since the alleged victim has not turned 28 years of age and therefore was still within 10 years to appear before the courts.