The president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, signed on Tuesday a law promoted by alleged victims of a priest, extending the statute of limitations in cases of sexual abuse for minors.
The so-called “ley de derecho al tiempo” (“law of the right to time“) extends the statute of limitations in cases of sexual abuse of children from 10 to 25 years after the victim reaches the age of majority.
“By strengthening the protection of minors, this law allows timely access to justice and compensation for damage,” said the president when ratifying the reform of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Denunciar actos de abuso sexual requiere valentía, por eso el Estado debe brindar el apoyo necesario. Firmamos la Ley de Derecho al Tiempo, la cual extiende de 10 a 25 años la prescripción de delitos sexuales contra menores. Posibilitando el acceso oportuno a la justicia.
— Carlos Alvarado Quesada (@CarlosAlvQ) May 21, 2019
The reform was prompted by two men who denounced a Catholic priest for having sexually abused them when they served as altar boys as teenagers.
“Because victims of sexual abuse deserve time to heal, to cleanse their souls and their minds, when they find the courage in their hearts to denounce, they also find the tools that give them justice,” Anthony Venegas, one of the promoters of the bill.
Venegas and Michael Rodriguez promoted the reform after reporting sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priest Mauricio Víquez, who was recently disbarred by the Vatican after accumulating at least nine accusations against him.
The religious leader left Costa Rica last January and is currently facing an international arrest warrant from Interpol.
Víquez fled Costa Rica after a complaint that is within the previous statute of limitations, since the alleged victim has not turned 28 years of age and therefore is still within 10 years of reaching the age of majority.