Costa Rica 1949 Constitution (reviewed 2020)

Table of Contents

Title IV. Individual Rights and Guarantees

Sole Chapter

Article 20

Every person is free in the Republic; whoever is under the protection of its laws may not be slave [masculine] or slave [feminine].

Article 21

The human life is inviolable.

Article 22

All Costa Ricans may move [trasladarse] and stay anywhere in the Republic or out of it, as long as they are free of responsibility, and return whenever it is convenient to them. Requirements may not be demanded of Costa Ricans that prevent their entrance into the country.

Article 23

The domicile and any other private premises of the inhabitants of the Republic are inviolable. However, they may be intruded [allanados] by the written order of [a] competent judge, or to prevent the commission or the impunity of crimes, or to prevent grave damage to persons or to property, subject to what the law prescribes.

Article 24

The right to intimacy, to freedom and to the secrecy of communications is guaranteed.

The private documents and the communications, written, oral or of any other type[,] of the inhabitants of the Republic[,] are inviolable. Nevertheless, the law, whose approval and reform will require the votes of two-thirds of the Deputies of the Legislative Assembly, will establish in which cases the Tribunals of Justice may order the seizure [secuestro], search [registro], or examination of private documents, when [it] is absolutely indispensible to clarify matters submitted to their cognizance.

Equally, the law will determine in which cases the Tribunals of Justice may order the intervention of any type of communication and will indicate the crimes in the investigation of which the use of this exceptional power [potestad] may be authorized and for [durante] how much time. Likewise, it will specify the responsibilities and the sanctions incurred by the functionaries who illegally apply this exception. The judicial resolutions protected under this norm must be reasoned and may be executed immediately. Their application and control will be the non-delegable responsibility of the judicial authority.

The law will establish the cases in which the competent functionaries of the Ministry of Finance [Hacienda] and of the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic may review the books of account and their annexes for tax purposes and to supervise [fiscalizar] the correct utilization of the public funds.

A special law, approved by two-thirds of the total of the Deputies, will determine which other organs of the Public Administration may review the documents specified by that law in relation with the fulfillment of their competences of regulation and surveillance to achieve [conseguir] public purposes. Likewise, it will indicate in which cases that review proceeds.

The correspondence stolen or the information obtained as a result of the illegal intervention of any communication will not produce legal effects.

Article 25

The inhabitants of the Republic have the right to associate for licit purposes. No one may be obligated to be a part of any association.

Article 26

Everyone has the right to meet peacefully and without arms, whether for private business, or to discuss political matters and to examine the public conduct of the functionaries.

Meetings in private premises do not need prior authorization. Those celebrated in public places will be regulated by the law.

Article 27

The freedom of petition, in individual or collective form, before any public functionary or official entity, and the right to obtain prompt resolution[,] are guaranteed.

Article 28

No one may be disturbed [inquietado] or persecuted for the expression of their opinions or for any act that does not infringe the law.

The private actions that do not harm the public morality or order, or that do not prejudice third parties, are outside of the action of the law.

Nevertheless, it is not possible, for clergymen or laymen to invoke religious motives or to make use of religious beliefs as [a] means to make political propaganda in any form.

Article 29

Every one may communicate their thoughts by words or in writing and publish them without prior censorship; but they will be responsible for the abuses committed in the exercise of this right, in the cases and the mode that the law establishes.

Article 30

The free access to the administrative departments for the purpose of [obtaining] information on matters of public interest[,] is guaranteed.

The secrets of the State are reserved.

Article 31

The territory of Costa Rica will be [an] asylum to anyone persecuted for political reasons. If because of [a] legal imperative their expulsion is decreed, they can never be sent to the country where they are persecuted.

Extradition will be regulated by the law or by international treaties and will never proceed in cases of political crimes or [crimes] connected to them, according to the Costa Rican qualification.

Article 32

No Costa Rican may be compelled to abandon the national territory.

Article 33

All persons are equal before the law and no discrimination whatever contrary to human dignity may be practiced.

Article 34

No law will be given retroactive effect in prejudice to any person, or to their acquired patrimonial rights or to any consolidated juridical situations.

Article 35

No one may be judged by [a] commission, tribunal or judge specially appointed for the case, but [sino] exclusively by the tribunals established in accordance with this Constitution.

Article 36

In penal matters, no one is obligated to give testimony against themselves, or against their spouse, ascendants, descendants or collateral relatives within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity inclusive.

Article 37

No one may be detained without proven evidence of having committed a crime, and without a written mandate of [a] judge or authority in charge of the public order, except when it concerns [a] fugitive inmate or [a] criminal [caught] in flagrante delicto; but in any case, they must be placed at the disposition of a competent judge within the peremptory time period of twenty-four hours.

Article 38

No person may be reduced to prison for debt.

Article 39

No one will be made to suffer a penalty except for [a] crime, [an] offense or [a] fault sanctioned by [a] previous law, and by virtue of a firm sentence issued by [a] competent authority, [with] prior opportunity granted to the indicted [person] to exercise their defense and through the necessary demonstration of culpability.

Corporal constraint in civil or labor matters or the detentions that may be decreed in [cases] of insolvency, bankruptcy or meetings of creditors do not constitute [a] violations of this Article or of the two preceding [Articles].

Article 40

No one will be submitted to cruel or degrading treatments or to perpetual penalties, or to the penalty of confiscation. Any declaration obtained by means of violence will be null.

Article 41

Through recourse to the laws, everyone should find reparation for the injuries or damages received to their person, property or moral interests. Prompt justice should be made to them, fulfilled, without degeneration and in strict accordance with the laws.

Article 42

One same Judge may not be in several instances to decide on one same point. No one may be judged more than one time for the same punishable act.

It is prohibited to reopen closed penal causes and trials decided with force of [the] thing judged [autoridad de cosa juzgada/Res judicata], except when the recourse of revision proceeds.

Article 43

All persons have the right to terminate their patrimonial differences by means of arbitrators, even when there is a pending litigation.

Article 44

[A] judicial order is required to make the isolation [of a person exceed forty-eight hours; it may only be extended for up to ten consecutive days and in no case will it impede the exercise of judicial scrutiny.

Article 45

Property is inviolable; none may be deprived of it[,] if it is not for [a] legally proven public interest, [with] prior indemnification in accordance with the law. In the case of war or internal commotion, it is not indispensible that the indemnification be prior. Nevertheless, the correspondent payment will be made at the latest two years after the state of emergency has been concluded.

The Legislative Assembly can, for reasons of public necessity through the vote of two-thirds of the totality of its members, impose on property limitations of social interest.

Article 46

The monopolies of a private [particular] character, and any act, even if originated in a law, which threaten or restrict the freedom of commerce, agriculture or industry, are prohibited.

The action of the State aimed at preventing any monopolistic practice or tendency is of public interest.

The enterprises constituted as de facto monopolies must be submitted to a special legislation.

The approval of two-thirds of the totality of the members of the Legislative Assembly is required to establish new monopolies in favor of the State or of the Municipalities.

Consumers and users have the right to the protection of their health, environment, security and economical interests, to receive adequate and true information; to the freedom of election, and to an equitable treatment. The State will support the organs constituted by them for the defense of their rights. The law will regulate these matters.

Article 47

Any author, inventor, producer or merchant will temporarily enjoy the exclusive property of their work, invention, trademark or trade name, in accordance with the law.

Article 48

All persons have the right to the recourse of habeas corpus to guarantee their personal freedom and integrity, and to the recourse of amparo to maintain or reestablish the enjoyment of the other rights consecrated in this Constitution, as well as those of a fundamental character established in the international instruments concerning human rights, applicable in the Republic. Both recourses will be of the competence of the Chamber indicated in Article 10.

Article 49

The contentious-administrative jurisdiction is established as [an] attribution of the Judicial Power, with the objective of guaranteeing the legality of the administrative function of the State, of its institutions and of any other entity of public law.

The diversion of power will be a motive of impugnment of the administrative acts.

The law will protect, at least, the subjective rights and the legitimate interests of those administrated.