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Costa Rica registered slight increase in homicides during 2020

Costa Rica registered 569 homicides in 2020, representing a slight increase over the previous year, according to preliminary data provided by Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ).

In 2019, the OIJ recorded 563 homicides, significantly below the tally for 2018 (585). In 2017, Costa Rica experienced a record-setting 603 homicides — a figure attributed to drug trafficking and score-settling between gangs.

The 2020 figure represents a murder rate of 11.1 people per 100,000 inhabitants. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies anything over 10 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants as an epidemic.

Costa Rica’s total number of homicides in 2020 may ultimately change slightly due to cases that remain under analysis by Judicial Police.

More than half of Costa Rica’s homicides in 2020 are related to score-settling, which is typically linked to organized crime, according to AmeliaRueda.com. The number of female victims also increased to 61, though this does not necessarily correspond to an increase in femicides, which in Costa Rica is defined as the death of a woman at the hands of her partner.

Thanks in part to the coronavirus pandemic, which led to fewer people in the streets, OIJ recorded a 23% decrease in criminal complaints in 2020 compared to 2019.

Complaints for crimes against property fell approximately 34% throughout the national territory. Within this category are robberies, assaults and theft.

However, frauds, scams, and other crimes forged through online platforms increased in 2020, according the OIJ.

“The offender realized that, in order to gain illegitimate access to people’s property, he had to go to a different place and, then, he turned to virtual environments and that caused an increase in the amount of fraud and other crimes that were forged through social networks, online platforms and telephone methods,” said Walter Espinoza, director of the OIJ.

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