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U.S. donates $16,000 to help Costa Rica improve environmental reporting

January 25, 2020

A donation from the U.S. Department of the Interior will help Costa Rica’s Environment Ministry (MINAE) receive and track environmental complaints from the public.

According to MINAE, the United States donated $16,000 to help the Costa Rican agency update its SITADA website. SITADA, or the Integrated System of Attention and Process of Environmental Complaints, allows members of the public to file a denuncia, or criminal complaint, when a person or entity is suspected of having committed environmental crimes.

The U.S. contribution is earmarked “to give traceability to the environmental crimes of fauna and flora” registered on SITADA, the Environment Ministry said.

“2020 is a super year for biodiversity,” said Haydée Rodríguez Romero, a MINAE minister, in a statement. “To make conservation goals a reality, it is essential to improve the control and protection of wildlife.”

Witnessed an environmental crime? How to file a complaint

If you have witnessed a person or entity commit an environmental crime in Costa Rica, you can report it to MINAE via the SITADA website.

To begin, visit the SITADA website by clicking here.

Then fill out the web form, which asks the following:

  • Type of Complaint: This dropdown list includes options from impacts to biodiversity, to forest issues, to air contamination.
  • Type of Infraction: This list updates dynamically based on the Type of Complaint. For instance, if you’re reporting mistreatment of a wild animal, your Type of Complaint would be “Biodiversidad,” and the Type of Infraction would be “Maltrato animal silvestre.”
  • Affected Location, Reported Entity, and Infringement Address.
  • Description of Infringement: A free-text field to describe the event in question. You can attach files, such as photos, to the complaint.
  • Personal Information: The last fields ask for your name, identification number, phone number, address, and e-mail. You can mark a checkbox below these fields to keep your personal data confidential.

Any person who is in Costa Rica — adult or a minor, national or foreign — can file a criminal complaint to the authorities.

No matter what institution receives the complaint, after it is filed, a number is assigned to track the status of the complaint. The office handling the complaint determines the facts of the case under the guidelines of the state. If accepted, the complaint could be further investigated or transferred to an internal unit within the government.

There is currently no legal deadline for a complaint to be made, though there may be a statute of limitations for investigations or further legal action. Once the case is concluded, the person who filed the complaint will be informed about what the state has established.

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