Court/Judicial body: Criminal Court of Cassation
Date: October 20, 2005 CRC
Provisions: Article 19: Protection from Abuse and Neglect
Domestic provisions:Constitution of Costa Rica: Articles 39, 41, 51, 55 Criminal Code: Articles 1, 22, 30, 45, 71, 73, 74, 76 and 140 Criminal Proceedings Code: 142, 184, 270, 360, 361, 367, 369, 422, 423, 424, 443, 444, 445 Family Code: Article 143 Children and Adolescents Code: Article 24 Law Against Domestic Violence N. 7586 of 1996: Article 2 Political Constitution: Article 33
Background: A father was convicted for beating his adult children with a belt in front of his minor children. He appealed, arguing that it was his right and duty as a father to punish his children.
Issue and resolution: Corporal punishment. The Court found that the parental right to correct and guide children does not include the right to use corporal punishment. Parental rights and duties are limited by the human rights of minors and prohibitions established by criminal laws, such as the prohibition against aggression using a weapon (i.e., a belt).
Court reasoning: Parents have an obligation to correct and guide children. This obligation cannot, however, be interpreted as a general authorisation for parents to hurt children. Minors are vested with rights which the state must protect. Excerpts Citing CRC and Other Relevant Human Rights Article 51 of the Constitution establishes the State’s duty to protect integrally all vulnerable persons, among whom are minors. Moreover, Article 55 of the Constitution, creates an autonomous agency in charge not only of watching out for rights but also of demanding its enforcement through the legal mechanisms set forth in the legal framework of Costa Rica. Also, under Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: “1.States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social, and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s), or any other person who has the care of the child. 2. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.” Moreover the recommendations of the [Committee on the Rights of the Child] insist[ ] on the need for “the State Party to ban the use of body punishments at home and to adopt efficient measures in order to enforce the legal prohibition of the body punishments (…)” Concerning the special legislation, Article 24 of the Children and Adolescents Code establishes “Right to Integrity. Minors shall have a right for their physical, psychological, and moral integrity to be respected. This right includes the protection of their image, identity, autonomy, thought, dignity, and values.” From this rule, we can conclude that the rights granted to parents under the paternal rights and duties [are] limited by the human rights of minors and the prohibitions expressly established in the criminal laws.
CRIN comments: CRIN believes that this decision is consistent with the CRC. As Article 19 mandates, all forms of violence against children should be prohibited in all settings, including corporal punishment inflicted in the home by parents or other relatives.
Link to full judgement: https://endcorporalpunishment.org/human-rights-law/national-high-level-court-judgments/costa-rica-2005-criminal-court-of-cassation-judgment/