Costa Rica takes a firm step against corruption with Law 10.437

The Law for the Protection of Whistleblowers and Witnesses of Acts of Corruption Against Labor Retaliation (Law 10.437) was enacted on February 8 and updates Costa Rica in this area, allowing the country to act decisively toward combating corrupt practices in both public and private sectors. By prioritizing the protection of whistleblowers and witnesses, Costa Rica seeks to strengthen its democratic institutions and effectively combat corruption.

The regulation extends protection to whistleblowers and witnesses of corruption, prohibiting any workplace retaliation and ensuring their safety. Among the labor reprisals it describes are unjustified dismissal and suspension of functions. It establishes a special privilege guaranteeing that whistleblowers’ and witnesses’ working conditions will not be modified because of their actions and that they will have access to free legal counsel. This law includes reporting acts of corruption based on prima facie evidence, and the requirements for protection under the law are detailed.

A person may report any act of corruption of which they become aware without the method of obtaining the information on which the report is based being of any significance. However, the whistleblower may incur criminal liabilities if the accusation corresponds to false facts or violates the right to privacy or secrecy of public communications.

The law comprises 31 articles highlighting reforms to existing laws such as the Labor Code and the Anti-Corruption Law. Some of the labor reprisals it describes are unjustified dismissal and unfavorable changes in working conditions. A special privilege is established for whistleblowers and witnesses, guaranteeing that their actions will not result in their working conditions being modified and that they will have access to free legal counsel. In addition, this law includes reporting acts of corruption based on prima facie evidence, and the requirements for protection under the law are detailed.

Employers with more than fifty employees must implement internal policies to address possible acts of corruption and accessible channels that allow for anonymous reporting to maintain the confidentiality of the whistleblower’s identity, which extends even after the reporting process is concluded.

The law establishes that employers found guilty of retaliating against whistleblowers will be sanctioned with fines by the labor courts, the severity of which will depend on factors such as the severity of the retaliation and its impact on the whistleblower.

Public officials who engage in retaliation or obstruct whistleblower reports will be administratively sanctioned per the provisions of the anti-corruption legislation in force, ranging from fines to removal from office. In addition, persons who incur retaliation may face criminal and civil liability, which marks the seriousness with which the regulations take reprisals against whistleblowers.

As of its publication, the law has entered into force and establishes the obligation of its regulation within 12 months after its publication.

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