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Monday, May 20, 2024

UN Disappointed by Costa Rica’s Rojas Murder Case Closure

The UN regretted that the Costa Rican justice system has closed the case of the murder in 2019 of the indigenous environmentalist Sergio Rojas, reported this Friday by its office in the Central American country.

“The United Nations System deeply regrets the definitive judicial filing of the case opened for the murder of the indigenous leader Sergio Rojas, (of the original people) Bribri of the Uniwak clan,” according to a statement.

The UN views with “concern” that investigations were not carried out “with relevance” and that the Public Ministry (prosecutor’s office) did not “provide sufficient and solid elements” to seek to prosecute those responsible, it added.

Rojas was murdered with a firearm in March 2019 by unknown individuals in his house in the community of Yery, located in the indigenous territory of Salitre, in southern Costa Rica.

The indigenous leader, who had precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), was an active defender of the recovery of indigenous lands in the hands of large farmers and had faced several death threats since 2015.

On January 8, the Costa Rican justice issued a definitive dismissal in favor of the three defendants for the homicide, although there is still a possibility of appeal.

The UN asked the Costa Rican Judicial Power “to redouble efforts and resources so that in other cases opened for attacks on indigenous leaders, the investigations are conducted quickly” and reminded the State of its ratification of international treaties that commit it to “safeguard the special guarantees of indigenous peoples and those who defend their rights”.

Among the pending cases is that of Jehry Rivera, who was also shot dead during a land recovery in February 2020. According to United Nations data from April 2021, in Costa Rica “more than 104,000 indigenous people reside, belonging to eight original peoples”.

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