Costa Rica - OPCAT Situation

OPCAT Status

OPCAT ratification date
UNCAT ratification Date
NPM Type

Ombuds Institution

NPM Designated

Decentralised unit within Ombudsperson's Office(Defensoría de los Habitantes)

Costa Rica was the second State to sign the OPCAT on 4 February 2003,followed by ratification on 1 December 2005. Costa Rica has historically been behind the OPCAT. It presented the first proposal for an Optional Protocol to the UN in 1980 and then again in 1991, eventually presiding over the Working Group established to negotiate the text during most of its ten-year existence.

Costa Rica ratified the OPCAT in 2005 and designated its Ombudsperson's Office (Defensoria de los Habitantes) as NPM in 2007 by Presidential Decree. In February 2014, the NPM mandate was enshrined in law, through the adoption of the NPM Law N° 9204, published in the official Gazette N° 42 of 28 February 2014. In July 2015, a decree was adopted to regulate the NPM Law.

The Ombudsperson's Office established a separate NPM Unit, currently composed of one Director and two staff. The NPM started its operations in

The SPT member who is the SPT Focal Point for Costa Rica is available here.

NPM Structure

An NPM unit was created within the Ombudsperson’s Office in January 2009. The NPM adopted internal regulations and working guidelines to regulate its daily work. 

The NPM Unit is directly accountable to the Deputy Ombudsperson. Other departments, including special protection, promotion and publications, legal issues and the regional offices (outside of the capital city) and administration, many of them also involved in the NPM work.


Annual reports

Each year, the NPM elaborates an annual report which is made available on the Ombudsman’s Office website.



Other Reports

The NPM produces thematic reports, such as a report on overcrowding and another on violence within juvenile centres. These reports can be found here.