Costa Rica Constitution
Costa Rica's political constitution was officially published in 1949.read more close
Title 1. The Republic
Costa Rica is a free and independent democratic Republic.
Sovereignty resides exclusively in the Nation.
No one may usurp sovereignty; Anyone who does it commits the crime of treason to the Nation.
No person or group of persons may assume the representation of the people, Usurp their rights, Or make petitions in their name. Violation of this Article shall be sedition.
The national territory is bounded by the Caribbean Sea, The Pacific Ocean, And the Republics of Nicaragua and Panama. The boundaries of the Republic are those fixed by the Cañas-Jérez Treaty of April 15, 1858, Ratified by the Cleveland Award of March 22, 1888, With respect to Nicaragua, And by the Echandi Montero-Fernández Jaén Treaty of May 1, 1941, With regard to Panama.
The Coco Island, Located in the Pacific Ocean, Is part of the national territory.
The State exercises complete and exclusive sovereignty over the air space above its territory, Over its territorial waters within a distance of twelve miles measured from the low-tide mark along its shores, Over its continental shelf and its insular undersea base, In accordance with principles of International Law.
It also exercises special jurisdiction over the seas adjacent to its territory within a distance of two hundred miles measured from the same mark, In order to protect, Preserve and exploit exclusively all the natural resources and wealth existing in the waters, Soil and subsoil of those zones, In accordance with those principles. (As amended by Law N° 5699, June 5, 1975.)
Public treaties, International agreements and concordats duly approved by the Legislative Assembly shall have a higher authority than the laws upon their enactment or from the day that they designate.
Public treaties and international agreements referring to the territorial integrity or the political organization of the country shall require the approval of the Legislative Assembly by a vote of not less than three-fourths of its total membership and the approval of two-thirds of the Members of a Constitutional Assembly called for the purpose. (As amended by Law N° 4123, May 31, 1968.)
Foreign states may only acquire within the territory of the Republic, On a reciprocal basis, Any real estate as necessary to base their diplomatic representations, Notwithstanding what international agreements provide.
The Government of the Republic is popular, Representative, Alternative and responsible. It is exercised by three distinct and independent branches: Legislative, Executive, And Judicial.
None of these Branches may delegate the exercise of their own functions.
A Supreme Electoral Tribunal, With the rank and independence of the Government Branches, Has the exclusive and independent responsibility of the organization, Direction and supervision of suffrage-related acts, As well as any other functions vested in it by this Constitution and the laws. (Added by Law N° 5704, June 5, 1975).
A specialized Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice shall declare, By the absolute majority vote of its members, The unconstitutionality of provisions of any nature and acts subject to Public Law. The jurisdictional acts of the Judicial Branch, The declaration of the elections by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and any others acts established by law cannot be challenged following this procedure.
This Chamber shall also:
a) Solve any conflicts of jurisdiction between State branches, Including the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, As well as any other entities or bodies established by law.
b) Hear any consultations on constitutional amendment bills, Ratification of international agreements or treaties and other bills, As provided by law.
(As amended by Law N° 7128, August 18, 1989. See also the Transitory Provisions concerning this Article, Included hereinafter in the section of Transitory Provisions.)
Public officials are mere depositories of authority and cannot usurp powers which the law has not vested in them. They must take an oath to observe and comply with this Constitution and the laws. The action to establish their criminal liability for their acts is public.
The Army as a permanent institution is abolished. There shall be the necessary police forces for surveillance and the preservation of the public order.
Military forces may only be organized under a continental agreement or for the national defense; In either case, They shall always be subordinate to the civil power: They may not deliberate or make statements or representations, Individually or collectively.
Title 2. Costa Rican Citizens
The following are Costa Ricans by birth:
1. A child born within the territory of the Republic to a Costa Rican father or mother;
2. A child born abroad to a born Costa Rican father or mother, who is registered as such in the Civil Register by the will of the Costa Rican parent during its minority, or by his own will up to the age of twenty-five;
3. A child born in Costa Rica to foreign parents, who is registered as a Costa Rican by the will of either parent during minority or by his own will up to the age of twenty-five;
4. An infant, of unknown parents, found in Costa Rica.
The following are Costa Ricans by naturalization:
1. Those who have acquired this nationality under former laws.
2. Nationals of other countries of Central America and Spaniards and Iberian-Americans by birth, who have resided officially in the country for five years and meet any other requirements prescribed by the law.
3. Central Americans, Spaniards and Iberian-Americans who are not native-born, and other foreigners who have been domiciled in Costa Rica for at least seven years and meet any other requirements prescribed by the law.
4. A foreign woman who loses her nationality by marriage to a Costa Rican.
5. A foreign woman who after being married two years to a Costa Rican, having resided in the country during the same period of time, indicates her desire to acquire the Costa Rican nationality.
6. Anyone who receives honorary nationality granted by the Legislative Assembly.
(As amended by Law N° 7065, May 21, 1987.)
Anyone who applies for naturalization must provide evidence of good behavior, demonstrate that he/she has a known occupation or means of livelihood, show that he/she speaks, writes and reads in Spanish language, subject himself/herself to a comprehensive test on the history and the values of the country, promise to reside within national territory regularly and swear to respect to the constitutional order of the Republic
The requirements and proceedings to apply for naturalization shall be established by law. (As amended by Law N° 7065, May 21, 1987.)
The Costa Rican nationality is not lost and can not be waived. (As amended by Law N° 7514, June 6, 1995.)
Acquisition of nationality transcends to minor children in accordance with the regulations established by law.
(As amended by Article 1, Law N° 7514, June 6, 1995.)
Costa Ricans must observe the Constitution and the laws, serve and defend the country and contribute to the public expenses.
Title 3. Foreigners
Foreigners have the same individual and social rights and duties that Costa Ricans do, with the exceptions and limitations established by this Constitution and the laws.
They may not intervene in the political affairs of the country, being subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of justice and the authorities of the Republic, and may not resort to diplomatic channels, except as provided in international conventions.
Title 4. Individual Rights
All men are free within the Republic; no one under the protection of its laws can be a slave.
Human life is inviolable.
Every Costa Rican may move about and stay anywhere within the Republic or abroad, provided he is free from any liability, and return whenever it may be convenient to him. No requirements can be demanded to Costa Ricans in order to prevent their entrance into the country.
The domicile and any other private premises of the inhabitants of the Republic are inviolable. However, they may be searched with a written warrant issued by a competent Judge, either to prevent the commission of crimes or their impunity, or to prevent serious damages to persons or property, subject to the appropriate provisions of law.
The right to intimacy, freedom and privacy of communications is guaranteed. Private documents and written, verbal or other communications of the inhabitants of the Republic are inviolable. However, a law, which enactment and amendment shall require the vote of at least two- thirds of the entire membership of the Legislative Assembly, shall determine those cases in which Courts of Justice may order the seizure, search, or examination of private documents, whenever this is absolutely necessary to clarify matters submitted to their cognizance.
Likewise, this law shall determine the cases in which Courts of Justice can order the intervention of any communication and indicate the offenses in which investigation the exercise of this exceptional investigatory power can be authorized, and the period of time during which such an intervention shall be permitted. The law shall also determine the responsibilities and penalties of any officials who apply illegally this exception. Any judicial resolution under this provision shall be duly reasoned and can be immediately enforced. Its application and control shall be the responsibility of judicial authorities and cannot be delegated.
The law shall also determine in what instances competent officials of the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic may examine accounting books and related documents for fiscal purposes as well as to control the correct use of public funds.
A special law, passed by two-thirds of the entire membership of the Legislative Assembly, shall determine which other bodies of the Public Administration shall be authorized to examine the documents established by said law in the performance of their duties of regulation and control for public ends. This law shall also provide the cases when such an examination is appropriate.
Any correspondence seized or information obtained as a result of the illegal intervention of any communication shall have no legal effect. (As amended by Law No. 7607, May 29, 1996.)
The inhabitants of the Republic have the right of association for lawful purposes. No one may be compelled to form a part of any association whatsoever.
Everyone has the right to meet peacefully and unarmed, whether it is for private business or to discuss political affairs and examine the public conduct of officials.
Meetings on private premises do not need prior authorization. Those held in public places shall be regulated by law.
The right to petition any public official or State entity, either individually or collectively and the right to obtain prompt resolution are guaranteed.
No one may be disturbed or prosecuted for the expression of his opinions or for any act which does not infringe the law.
Private actions which do not harm the morals or public order, or which do not cause any damages to third parties are outside the scope of the law.
However, clergymen or secular individuals cannot make political propaganda in any way invoking religious motives or making use of religious beliefs.
Every person may communicate his thoughts verbally or in writing and publish them without previous censorship; but he shall be liable for any abuses committed in the exercise of this right, in such cases and in the manner established by law.
Free access to administrative departments for purposes of information on matters of public interest is guaranteed.
State secrets are excluded from this provision.
The territory of Costa Rica shall be a shelter for all those persecuted for political reasons. If their expulsion is decreed on legal grounds, they can never be sent back to the country where they were persecuted.
Extradition shall be regulated by law or by international treaties and shall never be granted in case of political or related offenses, as they are defined by Costa Rica.
No Costa Rican citizen may be compelled to abandon the national territory.
All persons are equal before the law and there shall be no discrimination against human dignity. (As amended by Law No. 4123, May 31, 1968.)
No law shall have retroactive effects to the detriment of any person whatsoever or his acquired property rights, or to the detriment of any consolidated legal situations.
No one may be tried by a commission, a court or a judge specially appointed for the case, but exclusively by the courts established in accordance with this Constitution.
In criminal matters, no one is obligated to testify against himself or against a spouse, ascendants, descendants or collateral relatives within the third degree inclusive of consanguinity or affinity.
No one may be detained without substantiated evidence of having committed an offense or without a written order issued by the judge or the authority in charge of maintaining public order, unless the person concerned is a fugitive from justice or is caught in the act; but in all cases, he shall be placed at the disposition of a competent judge within a peremptory period of twenty-four hours.
No person may be imprisoned for debt.
No one shall be made to suffer a penalty except for crime, unintentional tort or misdemeanor punishable by previous law, and in virtue of final judgment entered by competent authority, after opportunity has been given to the defendant to plead his defense, and upon the necessary proof of guilt.
Judicial compulsion in civil or labor matters or detentions ordered in cases of insolvency, bankruptcy or bankruptcy involuntary proceedings are not violations of this Article or of the two preceding Articles.
No one may be subjected to cruel or degrading treatment or to life imprisonment, or to the penalty of confiscation. Any statement obtained by violent means shall be null and void.
Everyone shall receive reparation for injuries or damages to himself or his property, or moral interests, through recourse to the laws. Justice must be prompt, enforced, not denied, and in strict accordance with the laws.
The same judge may not serve in various stages of a case for resolutions addressing the same issue. No one may be tried more than once for the same punishable offense.
Reopening of closed criminal cases and judgments which are res judicata is prohibited, except upon a motion to reopen the case for review.
(Interpreted by resolution of the Constitutional Chamber, No. 353-91, 16:30 hours, February 12, 1991).
Everyone has the right to settle his differences in civil matters by means of arbitrators, even if there is a pending lawsuit.
A court order is necessary for a person to be held incommunicado for more than forty-eight hours. It may be extended only for ten consecutive days, and in no case shall it prevent judicial inspection.
Property is inviolable; no one may be deprived of his property except for legally proven public interest upon prior compensation in accordance with the law. In case of war or internal disorders, it is not necessary that such compensation be made in advance. However, payment shall be made no later than two years after the situation of emergency has ended.
For reasons of public necessity, the Legislative Assembly, by a vote of two-thirds of its full membership, may impose limitations of social interest on property.
Private monopolies, as well as any act, even if originated by virtue of law, which may threaten or restrict freedom of trade, agriculture or industry, are prohibited.
Action by the State directed to prevent any monopolistic practices or tendencies is in the public interest.
The companies organized as de facto monopolies shall be governed by special legislation.
Establishment of new monopolies in favor of the State or the Municipal Governments shall require the approval of two-thirds of the full membership of the Legislative Assembly.
Consumers and users are entitled to the protection of their health, environment, safety and financial interests, to receive adequate and truthful information, to freedom of election and to equal treatment. The State shall support any bodies established for the defense of their rights. The law shall regulate those matters. (As amended by Law No. 7607, May 29, 1996.)
Every author, inventor, producer, or merchant shall temporarily enjoy exclusive ownership of his work, invention, trademark or trade name, in accordance with the law.
Every person has the right to present writs of habeas corpus to guarantee his freedom and personal integrity and writs of amparo to maintain or reestablish the enjoyment of other rights conferred by this Constitution as well as those of fundamental nature established in international instruments on human rights, enforceable in the Republic. Both writs shall be within the jurisdiction of the Chamber indicated in Article 10. (As amended by Law No. 7128 of August 18, 1989.)
A contentious-administrative jurisdiction is established as a function of the Judicial Branch for purposes of guaranteeing the legality of the administrative function of the State, its institutions and any other entity of public law.
The misuse of power shall be grounds to challenge administrative acts.
The law shall protect, at least, the personal rights and legitimate interests of those governed.
(As amended by Law No. 3124, June 25, 1963.)
Title 5. Social Rights
The State shall procure the greatest welfare of all inhabitants of the country, Organizing and promoting production and the most adequate distribution of wealth.
Every person has the right to a healthy and ecologically-balanced environment, Being therefore entitled to denounce any acts that may infringe said right and claim redress for the damage caused.
The State shall guarantee, Defend and preserve that right. The Law shall establish the appropriate responsibilities and penalties.
(As amended by Article 1°, Law No. 7412, June 3, 1994.)
The family, As a natural element and foundation of society, Is entitled to State protection. Mothers, Children, The elderly and the destitute infirm are also entitled to such protection.
Marriage is the essential basis of the family and rests on equality of the rights of spouses.
Parents have the same obligations toward children born out of wedlock that they have toward those born within it. Everyone is entitled to know who his parents are, In accordance with the law.
Any personal qualification based on the nature of filiation is prohibited.
The special protection of mothers and minors shall be entrusted to an autonomous institution named Patronato Nacional de la Infancia (National Infancy Foundation), With the collaboration of other State institutions.
Labor is a right of the individual and an obligation to society. The State shall strive to see that everyone has lawful and useful employment, Duly compensated, And prevent the establishment on that account of conditions which may in any way curtail human freedom or dignity or degrade his labor to the status of mere merchandise. The State guarantees the right to free choice of work.
Every worker is entitled to a minimum wage, To be fixed periodically, For a normal working day, Which will provide for his welfare and a decent living. Wages shall always be equal for equal work under identical conditions of efficiency.
A technical organization to be defined by the law shall be in charge of all matters related to the fixing of minimum wages.
A regular working day for daytime work may not exceed eight hours a day or forty-eight hours a week. The regular working day for night work may not exceed six hours a day or thirty-six hours a week. Overtime work shall be paid at a rate of fifty percent above the stipulated wages or salaries. However, These provisions shall not apply in well-defined exceptional cases, To be determined by law.
All workers shall be entitled to one day of rest after six consecutive days of work and to annual paid vacations, The duration and time of which shall be regulated by law, But which shall not be in any case less than two weeks for every fifty weeks of continuous service, All without prejudice to well-defined exceptions established by law.
Both employers and workers may organize freely, For the exclusive purpose of obtaining and preserving economic, Social or professional benefits. Foreigners are prohibited from exercising direction or authority in unions.
The right of employers to lockout and of workers to strike is recognized, Except in public services, As they are determined by law and in accordance with the legal regulations on the subject, Which shall prohibit all acts of coercion or violence.
Collective labor agreements shall have force of law, If entered into by and between employers or employers' Unions and legally organized trade unions, In accordance with the law.
Workers removed without a fair cause shall be entitled to compensation unless they are covered by unemployment insurance.
The State shall promote the creation of cooperatives as a means to provide better living conditions for workers.
The State shall promote the construction of low-cost housing and create a family homestead for workers.
Every employer shall adopt in his enterprises any measures necessary for the health and safety of workers.
The State shall see to the technical and cultural training for workers.
No discrimination shall be made with regard to wages, Advantages, Or working conditions between Costa Ricans and foreigners, Or with respect to any group of workers. Under equal conditions, Costa Rican workers shall receive preference.
Rural sharecropper contracts shall be regulated in order to assure a rational exploitation of the land and the equitable distribution of its produce between proprietors and tenants.
A labor jurisdiction shall be established under the Judicial Branch.
The laws shall provide special protection to women and minors in their work.
Until unemployment insurance is established, The State shall maintain a permanent technical system of protection for those involuntarily unemployed and shall strive to restore them to employment.
Social security is established for the benefit of manual and intellectual workers, Regulated by a system of compulsory contributions by the State, Employers and workers, To protect them against the risks of illness, Disability, Maternity, Old age, Death and other contingencies as determined by law.
The administration and direction of social security shall be entrusted to an autonomous institution named Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (Costa Rican Social Security Administration).
Social security funds and reserves may not be transferred or used for purposes other than those for which they were created.
Occupational risk insurance shall be exclusively at the expense of employers, Being governed by special provisions. (As amended by Law No. 2737, May 12, 1961.)
The rights and benefits to which this Chapter refers may not be waived. Their enumeration does not exclude others that may be derived from the Christian principle of social justice or established by law. They shall be equally applicable to all the concurrent factors in the process of production and regulated by social and labor legislation, Striving for a permanent policy of national solidarity.
Title 6. Religion
The Roman Catholic and Apostolic Religion is the religion of the State, which contributes to its maintenance, without preventing the free exercise in the Republic of other forms of worship that are not opposed to universal morality or good customs.
Title 7. Education & The Culture
Spanish is the official language of the nation.
(As amended by Article 2, Law No. 5703, June 6, 1975.)
Public education shall be organized as a comprehensive process correlated in its various phases, From preschool to university education.
Preschool education and general basic education are compulsory. These levels and the diversified education level are, In the public system, Free and supported by the Nation.
Public expenditure in State education, Including higher education, Shall not be less than six percent (6%) Per annum of the gross domestic product, In accordance with the law, Without detriment to the provisions of Articles 84 and 85 of this Constitution.
The State shall facilitate the pursuit of higher studies by persons who lack monetary resources. The Ministry of Public Education, Through the organization established by law, Shall be in charge of awarding scholarships and assistance.
(As amended by Law Nº 7676, Of July 23, 1997.)
Freedom of teaching is guaranteed. However, All private educational centers shall be under the supervision of the State.
Private initiative in educational matters shall be encouraged by the State, In such form as provided by law.
A superior council shall be in charged of the general official public education management. The council shall be established by law and presided over by the Ministry of Public Education
The State shall provide food and clothing for indigent pupils, In accordance with the law.
The State shall organize and support adult education, Designed to combat illiteracy and to provide cultural opportunities for those who wish to improve their intellectual, Social, And economic position.
The Universidad de Costa Rica (University of Costa Rica) Is a higher-learning institution which enjoys independence in the performance of its functions and has full legal capacity to acquire rights and contract obligations, As well as to determine its own organization and form of government. Other state institutions of higher education learning at university level shall have the same functional independence and legal capacity that the University of Costa Rica has.
The State shall endow them with funds of their own and cooperate in financing them.
(As amended by Law No. 5697, June 9, 1975.)
The State shall endow the University of Costa Rica, The Technological Institute of Costa Rica, The National University and the State Remote Education University with their own funds, Creating their own revenues for them in addition to those that they themselves may create. It shall also maintain, Using the current revenues and any others as may be necessary, A special fund for the financing of State Higher Education.
The Central Bank of Costa Rica shall manage this fund, Making the proceeds available in twelfths on a monthly basis to the order of said institutions, In accordance with the distribution determined by the body in charge of the coordination of State Higher Education at university level. The revenues from this special fund cannot be abolished or reduced, If other improvements to replace them are not simultaneously created.
The body in charge of the coordination of State Higher Education at university level shall prepare a national plan for this level of education, Taking into account the guidelines established by the National Plan of Development in force.
That plan shall be completed no later than the thirtieth day of June in years divisible by five, Covering the next five-year period. It shall include the operating expenditures as well as the investment expenses as may be deemed necessary for a good performance of the institutions specified in this Article.
The Executive Branch shall include in the ordinary budget of expenditure of the Republic the appropriate items specified in the plan, Adjusted in accordance with the variations in the purchasing power of currency.
Any difference which may arise with regard to the approval of the budgeted amount of the national plan of State Higher Education shall be resolved by the Legislative Assembly.
(As amended by Law No. 6580, May 18, 1981.)
The State shall provide for the training of professionals in Education, By means of special institutions of the University of Costa Rica and of the other institutions of higher education at university level.
(As amended by Law No. 5697, June 9, 1975.)
Freedom of teaching is a fundamental principle of university education.
For discussion and enactment of bills of law concerning matters under the jurisdiction of the University of Costa Rica or other institutions of higher education at university level, Or directly related thereto, The Legislative Assembly shall previously hear the University Council or the respective board of directors of each of them.
(As amended by Law No. 5697, June 9, 1975.)
The cultural aims of the Republic include: To protect its natural beauty, To preserve and develop the historic and artistic wealth of the Nation, And to support private initiative directed to scientific and artistic progress.
Title 8. Political Rights & Duties
Chapter 1. The Citizens
Citizenship is the aggregate of political rights and duties pertaining to Costa Ricans over eighteen years of age.
(As amended by Law No. 4763, May 17, 1971.)
Citizenship is suspended only:
1. By judicially declared interdiction.
2. By a judgment imposing the penalty of suspension of the exercise of political rights.
Citizenship is restored in such cases and by such means as the law may provide.
Chapter 2. The Suffrage
Suffrage is a primary and compulsory civic function and is exercised before Election Boards through direct and secret vote by the citizens registered in the Civil Registry.
(As amended by Law No. 2345, May 20, 1959.)
A naturalized Costa Rican citizen may not vote until twelve months after obtaining the respective certificate of naturalization.
The law shall regulate the exercise of suffrage, in accordance with the following principles:
1. Autonomy in the electoral function;
2. The State duty to register citizens officially in the Civil Registry and provide them with an identity card to exercise suffrage;
3. Effective guarantees of freedom, order, integrity and impartiality on the part of government authorities;
4. Guarantees that the voting system does facilitate the exercise of this right to citizens;
5. Identification of the voter by means of an identity card with a photograph or any other adequate technical means established by law for this purpose;
6. Guarantees for representation of minorities.
7. Guarantees of political pluralism;
8. Guarantees for designation of authorities and candidates of political parties, in accordance with democratic principles and with no discrimination based on genre.
(As amended by Article 1º, Law No.7675, of July 2, 1997.)
The State may not make any deductions from the compensation of public officials for payment of political debts.
The State shall contribute to finance the expenses incurred by political parties, in accordance with the following provisions:
1. The contribution shall be zero point nineteen percent (0.19%) of the gross domestic product of two years before the holding of the elections for President, Vice Presidents of the Republic and members of the Legislative Assembly. The law shall determine the cases when a reduction of said percentage may be decided.
This percentage shall be allocated to cover the expenses incurred for the participation of political parties in these electoral processes and to satisfy the political organization and training needs. Each political party shall fix the percentages corresponding to these items.
2. The political parties that participate in the electoral processes indicated in this Article and reach at least four percent (4%) of the votes validly cast at national level, or the parties registered at provincial level that obtain at least said percentage in the province or do elect at least a member to the Legislative Assembly shall be entitled to State contribution.
3. Upon deposit of the appropriate bonds, the political parties shall be entitled to a partial advance of the State contribution, as determined by law.
4. In order to receive support from the State, parties are required to demonstrate their expenses before the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.
Private contributions to political parties shall be subject to the principle of publicity and shall be regulated by law.
The enactment and amendment of the law that establishes the procedures, control means and other regulations for enforcement of this Article shall require the vote of two-thirds of the membership of the Legislative Assembly.
(As amended by Article 1º, Law No. 7675, of July 2, 1997.)
For purposes of discussion and enactment of bills of law concerning electoral matters, the Legislative Assembly shall consult the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, requiring the vote of two-thirds of the total membership to deviate from such opinion.
However, within six months prior to and four months after a popular election is held, the Legislative Assembly may not enact any law based on bills concerning matters about which the Supreme Electoral Tribunal had expressed disagreement.
All citizens have the right to organize themselves in parties in order to participate in national politics, provided that such parties are committed in their platforms to respect the constitutional order of the Republic.
Political parties shall express the political pluralism, contribute to the formation and manifestation of popular will and be fundamental instruments for political participation. Their creation and the exercise of their activities shall be free within respect to the Constitution and the law. Their internal structure and operation shall be democratic.
(As amended by Article 1º, Law No.7675, of July 2, 1997.)
Chapter 3. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal
The organization, direction, and supervision of acts pertaining to suffrage are the exclusive function of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which does enjoy independence in the performance of its duties. All other electoral organs are subordinate to the Tribunal.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal shall be ordinarily composed of three regular members and six alternates, appointed by the Supreme Court of Justice by a vote of no less than two-thirds of its members. They shall have the same qualifications and be subject to the same responsibilities established for the justices that compose the Supreme Court.
From one year prior to and six months after the holding of general elections to elect the President of the Republic or the members of the Legislative Assembly, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal shall increase the number of its members with two of its alternates in order to become a tribunal of five members to serve during that period of time.
When applicable, the members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal shall be subject to the working conditions and the minimum working day established by the Structural Law of the Judicial Branch for justices of the Appellate Chamber. They shall also receive the same compensation fixed for those justices.
(As amended by Law No. 2345, May 20, 1959 and Law No. 3513, June 24, 1965.)
The members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal shall hold office for a term of six years. The term in office of one regular member and two alternates shall be renewed every two years, but they may be reelected.
The justices of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal shall enjoy the same immunities and prerogatives that members of the Supreme Branches have.
(As amended by Law No. 3513, June 24, 1965.)
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal has the following functions:
1. To convoke popular elections;
2. To appoint the members of the Electoral Boards, in accordance with the law;
3. To interpret, with exclusive and compulsory effect, all constitutional and legal provisions on electoral matters;
4. To hear the appeals against resolutions issued by the Civil Registry and the Electoral Boards;
5. To investigate on its own or through delegates and render decisions on any claims made by parties as to political partiality of State officials in the performance of their duties or about the political activities conducted by officials who are prohibited to engage in them. A verdict of guilty rendered by the Tribunal shall be compulsory grounds for removal and shall disqualify the wrongdoer to hold public offices for a term of no less than two years, without prejudice of any criminal liability that may be established. However, if the investigation conducted includes charges against the President of the Republic, Cabinet Ministers, Diplomatic Ministers, the Comptroller General or the Assistant Comptroller of the Republic, or the justices of the Supreme Court, the Tribunal shall report the findings of its investigation to the Legislative Assembly;
6. To adopt, with respect to the public force, pertinent measures to assure that the elections are carried out under conditions of unrestricted freedom and guarantees. In case that military recruitment is ordered, the Tribunal may also adopt suitable measures to assure that the electoral process may not be disturbed, in order that all citizens may freely cast their votes. The Tribunal may enforce these measures on its own or through its designated delegates;
7. To conduct the official count of the votes cast in the elections for President and Vice Presidents of the Republic, members of the Legislative Assembly, members of Municipal Governments and Representatives to Constitutional Assemblies;
8. To issue the official declaration of the election of the President and Vice Presidents of the Republic within thirty days following the date of the election, and that of the other officials mentioned in the foregoing subsection within the period established by law;
9. Any other functions entrusted to it by this Constitution or by the laws.
There is no appeal against the decisions of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, except for actions on the grounds of breach of public duty.
The Civil Registry shall be exclusively under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, and its functions are:
1. To keep the Main Register of Marital Status and prepare the lists of voters;
2. To decide on applications to acquire or recover Costa Rican citizenship, as well as cases of loss of nationality (*); to enforce Court resolutions suspending citizenship and to issue a resolution on proceedings conducted to recover it. The decisions rendered by the Civil Registry, in accordance with the powers vested upon it by this subsection, may be appealed to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal;
(* Note: Article 16 of this Constitution, as amended by Law No. 7514, of June 6, 1995, provides that Costa Rican nationality is not lost and cannot be waived)
3. To issue identity cards;
4. Any other powers vested in it by this Constitution and the laws.
Title 9. The Legislative Power
Chapter 1. Organization of the Legislative Assembly
The power to legislate resides in the people, Which delegate this power, By means of suffrage, To the Legislative Assembly. Such a power may not be waived or subject to limitations by any agreement or contract, Either directly or indirectly, Except in the case of treaties, In accordance with the principles of International Law. (As amended by Law No. 7128, August 18, 1989.)
The representatives have that character for the Nation and shall be elected by provinces.
The Assembly is composed of fifty-seven representatives. Every time that a general census of the population is conducted, The Supreme Electoral Tribunal shall allocate to the provinces a number of representatives in proportion to their population.
(As amended by subsection 2 of the single Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
Representatives shall hold office for four years and may not be reelected to a succeeding term.
The requirements to become a representative are:
1. To be a citizen in the exercise of his rights;
2. To be a Costa Rican by birth, Or by naturalization with ten years of residence in the country after naturalization;
3. To be at least twenty-one years old.
The following may not be elected representatives or registered as candidates for that office:
1. The President of the Republic or anyone acting as such at the time of the election;
2. Cabinet Ministers;
3. The regular Justices of the Supreme Court of Justice;
4. The regular members and alternates of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, And the Director of the Civil Registry Office;
5. The military in active service;
6. Those having jurisdiction or exercising civil or police authority over any province;
7. Managers of autonomous institutions;
8. Relatives of the person who is then holding office as President of the Republic, To the second degree of consanguinity or affinity inclusive.
These incompatibilities shall affect anyone holding the aforesaid positions within six months prior to the date of the election.
A representative is not liable for any opinions expressed at the Assembly. During legislative sessions, He cannot be arrested on civil grounds, Except by authorization of the Assembly or with the consent of the representative.
From the time he is declared elected as representative or as an alternate representative, Until expiration of his legal term in office, He may not be deprived of his freedom on criminal grounds, Unless he has been previously suspended by the Assembly. Such immunity does not apply in case of flagrante delicto or when the representative waives it. Nevertheless, A representative who has been arrested for flagrante delicto will be released if the Assembly so orders.
After taking the oath of office, No representative may accept any position or employment with other State Branches or autonomous institutions, Under penalty of losing his credentials, Except as a Cabinet Minister. In this case, He shall be reinstated in the Assembly when he is no longer in such position.
This prohibition does not apply to those appointed as members of international delegations or holding positions in charitable institutions, Or who are professors of the University of Costa Rica or other State institutions of higher education.
(As amended by Law No. 5697, June 9, 1975.)
The legislative function is also incompatible with the holding of any other public office of popular election.
Representatives may not enter into any contract with the State or its autonomous institutions, Directly or indirectly or through representation, Or obtain any concession of public property that may involve a privilege, Or serve as directors, Administrators or managers of enterprises which enter into contracts with the State for public works, Furnishing of supplies, Or operation of public utilities.
Violation of any of the prohibitions contained in this or the foregoing Article shall result in the loss of the credentials as representative. The same shall occur to the representative who violates any of these provisions while serving as a Cabinet Minister.
The law shall fix the compensation of representatives as well as any technical and administrative assistance to be given to them.
(As amended by Law No. 6960, June 1, 1984.)
The Assembly shall be based at the capital of the Republic and the vote of two-thirds of the whole membership shall be required to transfer its seat somewhere else or to suspend its sessions for a specific period.
The Assembly shall elect its Directorate at the beginning of each legislative period. The President and the Vice President must fulfill the same conditions required to be President of the Republic. The President of the Assembly shall take an oath before the Assembly and the representatives before the President.
The Legislative Assembly shall meet each year on the first day of May, Even if it has not been convoked, And its regular-session term shall last six months, Divided into two periods: From the first day of May to the thirty-first day of July and from the first day of September to the thirtieth day of November.
One Legislative Period includes all regular and extraordinary sessions held between the first day of May and the next thirtieth day of April.
The Assembly may not hold its sessions unless they are attended by two-thirds of the total membership.
If it is impossible to initiate a session on the scheduled day, Or if after opening it, It cannot continue due to lack of a quorum, The attending members present shall urge the absent members to attend, Under penalty of the sanctions established by the Regulations, For their attendance, And the Assembly shall open or continue its sessions when attended by the required number of members.
Sessions shall be public, Unless for very special reasons of general convenience, It is resolved to make them secret by vote of not less than two-thirds of the attending representatives.
The Executive Branch may convoke the Legislative Assembly to extraordinary sessions. No issues other than those stated in the decree of convocation may be discussed, Except for the appointment of officials when incumbent upon the Assembly or any legal amendments that may be essential to act upon issues submitted to its consideration.
The resolutions of the Assembly shall be adopted by the absolute majority vote of the attending representatives, Except in those cases in which this Constitution requires a qualified majority.
The Executive Branch shall place at the disposal of the Legislative Assembly such police force as the President of the Assembly may request.
Chapter 2. Powers of the Legislative Assembly
In addition to other powers vested in it by this Constitution, The Legislative Assembly has exclusive powers to:
1. Enact, Amend, Repeal and give an authentic interpretation to the laws, Except as otherwise provided in the chapter referring to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal;
2. Designate the premises to be used for its sessions, Open and close the sessions and suspend or continue them when so is decided by the Assembly:
3. Appoint the regular and alternate justices of the Supreme Court of Justice;
4. Approve or disapprove international conventions, Public treaties and concordats.
Public treaties and international conventions which confer or transfer certain powers to a community legal order for the purpose of achieving common regional objectives shall require the approval of the Legislative Assembly by a vote of not less than two-thirds of its entire membership.
Lesser-rank protocols derived from public treaties or international conventions approved by the Assembly when these instruments expressly authorize such Protocols shall not required the legislative approval.
(As amended by Law No. 4123, May 31, 1968.)
5. Give or withhold its consent to the entrance of foreign troops into the national territory and for the stay of warships at ports or airfields;
6. Authorize the Executive Branch to declare a state of national defense and to reach peace agreements;
7. Suspend, By vote of no less than two-thirds of its entire membership, In case of clear public need, The individual rights and guarantees conferred by Articles 22, 23, 24, 26, 28, 29, 30 and 37 of this Constitution. This suspension may include all or certain rights and guarantees, Throughout the territory or only in a part of it, And for no more than thirty days. During the suspension and with respect to persons, The Executive Branch may order their detention only in establishments not used for common criminals, Or may order their confinement to inhabited places. It must also report to the Legislative Assembly, At its next meeting, Any measures taken to safeguard public order or maintain the security of the State. In no case may individual rights and guarantees not listed in this subsection be suspended;
8. Take the legal oath and receive the resignation of members of the Supreme Branches, With the exception of Cabinet Ministers; Settle any doubts that may arise as to the lack of physical or mental capacity of the person exercising the Presidency of the Republic, And decide whether to call in his legal substitute to take office;
9. Admit or refuse any impeachment made against the person exercising the Presidency of the Republic, The Vice Presidents, Members of the Supreme Branches and Diplomatic Ministers, Declaring by a vote of two thirds of the entire Assembly whether or not there are grounds for legal action against them, Placing them, If there are, At the disposition of the Supreme Court of Justice for prosecution thereof;
10. Order the suspension of any officials mentioned in the preceding subsection, If they are to be prosecuted for common crimes;
11. Fix the regular and extraordinary budgets of the Republic;
12. Appoint the Comptroller General and the Assistant Comptroller General of the Republic;
13. Impose taxes and national contributions and authorize Municipal taxes;
14. Order the disposal or the application to public use of property that belongs to the Nation.
The following property may not be permanently removed from State ownership:
A. Any power that may be obtained from public waters within the national territory;
B. Deposits of coal, Wells and deposits of oil and any other hydrocarbons, As well as any deposits of radioactive minerals existing within the national territory;
C. Wireless services;
Property mentioned in subsections a), B), And c) Above may be exploited only by the public administration or by private parties, In accordance with the law or under a special concession granted for a limited time and on the basis of conditions and stipulations to be established by the Legislative Assembly.
National railroads, Docks, And airports --the latter while in use-- May not be sold, Leased or encumbered, Directly or indirectly, Or be otherwise removed from State ownership and control.
15. Approve or disapprove loans or similar agreements affecting public credit, Entered into by the Executive Branch.
In order to subscribe agreements for loans abroad, Or within the country but financed with foreign capital, It is necessary that the respective project be approved by the vote of two thirds of the entire membership of the Legislative Assembly.
(As amended by Law No. 4123, May 31, 1968.)
16. Bestow honorary citizenship for distinguished services rendered to the Republic and decree honors to the memory of persons whose eminent activities may have made them worthy of such a distinction.
17. Determine the law of the unit of currency and enact laws on currency, Credit, Weights and measures. For the purpose of determining the law of the unit of currency, The Assembly shall previously hear the opinion of the technical body in charge of monetary regulation.
18. Promote the progress of sciences and arts and ensure to authors and inventors, For a limited time, Ownership of their respective works or inventions
19. Create establishments for teaching and advancement of sciences and arts, Allocating revenues for their support and endeavoring particularly to make elementary education general.
20. Create the Courts of Justice and other entities for the national service.
21. By a vote of no less than two-thirds of the entire membership, Grant general amnesties and pardons for political crimes, Except electoral offenses, For which there shall be no mercy;
22. Adopt Regulations for its own functioning, Which, After being adopted may not be amended, Except by a vote of no less than two-thirds of the entire membership;
23. Appoint commissions from within its membership to investigate any matter entrusted to them by the Assembly and submit the appropriate report.
Such Commissions shall have free access to all official agencies to conduct their investigations and collect any data they may deem necessary. They may receive any kind of evidence and summon before them any person for purposes of interrogation;
24. Formulate questions to Cabinet Ministers and, In addition, By a vote of two-thirds of the attending representatives, Censure such officials if, In the opinion of the Assembly, They are guilty of illegal or unconstitutional acts or serious errors that have caused or may cause evident damages to the public interest.
Matters under diplomatic negotiation or concerning pending military operations are excepted in both cases.
The Assembly is prohibited to give votes of applause for official acts, Or to recognize at the expense of the Public Treasury obligations which have not been previously declared as such by the Judicial Branch or accepted by the Executive Branch; Or to grant scholarships, Pensions, Retirement annuities or rewards.
Chapter 3. Enactment of Laws
During regular sessions, The initiative for enactment of laws can be taken by any member of the Legislative Assembly, Or by the Executive Branch through the Cabinet Ministers.
In order to become a law, Every bill of law shall be the subject matter of two debates, Each on a different non-consecutive day, Obtain the approval of the Assembly and the sanction of the Executive Branch, And be published in the Official Journal, Without prejudice of the requirements established by this Constitution for special cases. Action taken exercising the powers listed in sections 2), 3), 5), 6), 7), 8), 9), 10), 12), 16), 21), 22), 23), And 24) Of Article 121 do not have the status of laws, And therefore do not require the foregoing procedure; They shall be voted at a single session and then published in the Official Journal.
The Legislative Assembly can delegate upon permanent commissions the cognizance and passing of bills of law. However, The Assembly can remove from them at any time the debate or the vote of bills of law subject matter of delegation.
Delegation does not proceed in the case of bills of law concerning electoral matters, The creation of national taxes or the modification of existing taxes, The exercise of the powers foreseen in sections 4), 11), 14), 15) And 17) Of Article 121 of the Political Constitution, The calling of a Constitutional Assembly for any purpose, And a partial amendment to the Political Constitution.
The Assembly shall appoint said permanent commissions with full legislative powers, In such way that their composition may reflect on a proportional basis the number of representatives of the constituent political parties. Delegation shall be approved by a majority of two thirds of the total membership of the Assembly and the removal, By absolute majority of the attending representatives.
The Regulations of the Assembly shall regulate the number of these commissions and other conditions for delegation and removal, As well as the procedures to be applied in these cases.
Legislative approval of contracts, Agreements and other acts of an administrative nature does not vest in such acts the character of laws even if such approval is given through the regular procedure for enactment of laws.
(As amended by Article 1, Law No. 7347, July 1, 1993.)
If the Executive Branch does not approve a bill of law passed by the Assembly, It shall veto it and return it with pertinent objections. A veto may not be used for the bill of law that contains the Regular Budget of the Republic.
Within ten business days following the date on which a bill of law passed by the Legislative Assembly is received, The Executive Branch may object to it as inappropriate or in need of amendments; In the latter case, The Executive Branch shall propose such amendments when returning the bill of law. If the Executive Branch does not object to a bill of law within said term, It shall approve and publish it.
When a bill of law is reconsidered by the Assembly with the observations of the Executive Branch, If the Assembly rejects them and the bill of law is again passed by a vote of two-thirds of the total membership, It is thereby sanctioned and must be enforced as a law of the Republic. If the proposed amendments are adopted, The bill of law shall be returned to the Executive Branch, Which may not refuse to sanction it. If they are rejected, And the bill of law is not approved by a vote of two thirds, It shall be filed and may not be considered until the next legislative period.
If the veto is based on grounds of unconstitutionality not accepted by the Assembly, It shall submit the bill to the Chamber indicated in Article 10 to decide upon the issue within the following thirty calendar days following receipt of the record.
The provisions declared to be unconstitutional shall be considered rejected and the others shall be submitted to the Assembly for the appropriate proceedings. The same shall be done with a bill of law passed by the Legislative Assembly, When the Chamber rules that it does not contain unconstitutional provisions.
(As amended by Law No. 7128, August 18, 1989.)
Laws are compulsory and effective from the date therein designated; If this requirement is missing, Ten days after publication thereof in the Official Journal.
No one may claim ignorance of the law, Except when authorized by the law itself.
Waiver of laws in general or any special waiver of laws of public interest shall not be effective.
Acts and agreements against prohibitive laws shall be null and void, Unless otherwise provided by the law itself.
A law may not be abrogated or repealed except by a subsequent law, And no disuse, Custom, Or opposite practice can be claimed against its enforcement.
Title 10. Executive Power
Chapter 1. The President and the Vice President of the Republic
The Executive Power is exercised, on behalf of the people, by the President of the Republic and the Cabinet Ministers in the capacity of subordinate collaborators.
To be President or Vice President of the Republic, it is required to be:
1) A Costa Rican by birth and a citizen in the exercise of his or her rights;
2) A layman or a laywoman;
3) Over thirty years old.
The following may not be elected President or Vice President:
1) The President who has served as such during any period, or a Vice President or whoever has replaced him, serving during most of the constitutional term.
(As amended by Law No. 4349, July 11, 1969. See also the Transitory Provisions.)
2) A Vice President who has held such status during the twelve months preceding the election, and any person who, acting as such, may have occupied the Presidency for any period during such term;
3) Any ancestor or descendant by consanguinity or affinity or sibling of the person occupying the Presidency of the Republic at the time of the election, or of any person who has held such office for any period during the six months preceding that date;
4) Anyone who has been a Cabinet Minister during the twelve months prior to the date of the election;
5) The regular Justices of the Supreme Court of Justice, the regular and alternate Justices of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Director of the Civil Registry, the Directors or Managers of autonomous institutions, the Comptroller General of the Republic and the Assistant Comptroller.
This disqualification includes persons who have held said positions within twelve months before the date of the elections.
The election for President and Vice Presidents shall be held on the first Sunday of February of the year in which these officials are to be elected.
The presidential term shall be four years. The actions of public officials and private individuals that violate the principle of alternation in the Presidential office or of free presidential succession, as set forth in this Constitution, will imply treason to the Republic. The liability derived from such actions shall not be subject to any statute of limitations.
There shall be two Vice Presidents of the Republic, who shall replace the President during his permanent absence, in the order of their nomination. During his temporary absence, the President may call upon either Vice President to replace him.
If neither Vice President can fill the temporary or permanent absence of the President, the position shall be held by the President of the Legislative Assembly.
The President and the Vice Presidents of the Republic shall take office on the eighth day of May; and upon completion of their constitutional term in office, their functions shall cease.
The President and the Vice Presidents shall take an oath before the Legislative Assembly; but if they cannot do it before the Assembly, they shall do so before the Supreme Court of Justice.
The President and Vice Presidents shall be elected simultaneously and by a majority vote that exceeds forty percent of the total number of validly cast votes.
The candidates for President and Vice Presidents of one party shall appear in a single ticket, to the exclusion of any other official to be elected.
If none of the tickets attains said majority, a second popular election shall be held on the first Sunday of April of the same year between the two tickets that received the highest number of votes, being elected the one that obtains more votes in the second election.
If at any election two tickets obtain an equal number of sufficient votes, the oldest candidate shall be considered elected as President, and the Vice Presidents shall be the candidates in the same ticket.
Citizens included in a ticket already registered in accordance with the law may not withdraw their candidacy for President or Vice President, nor may candidates of the tickets that received the highest number of votes in a first election refrain from running in the second election.
Chapter 2. Duties of the Executive Power
The following are the exclusive powers and duties of the occupant of the Presidency of the Republic:
1) To freely appoint and remove Cabinet Ministers;
2) To represent the Nation in acts of an official nature;
3) To hold the supreme command of the law enforcement forces;
4) To present to the Legislative Assembly, at the beginning of each annual period of sessions, a written message concerning the various matters of the Administration and the political situation of the Republic, in which he shall also propose any measures he may deem important to the proper conduct of the Government and the progress and well-being of the nation;
5) Whenever he proposes to go out of the country, to previously inform the motives of his trip to the Legislative Assembly.
(As amended this subsection by Law No. 7674, of June 17, 1997.)
The following are joint powers and duties of the President and the appropriate Cabinet Minister:
1) To freely appoint and remove members of the law enforcement forces, employees and officials who hold positions of trust, and others as determined in very qualified cases by the Civil Service Law;
2) To appoint and remove, subject to the prior requirements of the Civil Service Law, all other employees of their offices;
3) To sanction and enact the laws, regulate and enforce them and see to their strict compliance;
4) During the period of adjournment of the Legislative Assembly, to order the suspension of the rights and guarantees to which subsection 7) of Article 121 refers, in the same instances and with the same limitations as established therein, and to report it immediately to the Assembly. A decree of suspension of guarantees is equivalent, ipso facto, to a call of the Assembly, which shall meet within the next forty-eight hours. If the Assembly does not confirm the measure by a two-thirds vote of its entire membership, the guarantees shall be considered duly reestablished.
If the Assembly is unable to meet due to lack of quorum, it shall do so the following day with any number of members. In this event, the decree of the Executive Branch requires the approval by a vote of no less than two thirds of the attending members;
5) To exercise the initiative in the enactment of laws and the right of veto;
6) To maintain order and tranquillity in the Nation; to take such measures as may be necessary to safeguard public liberties;
7) To provide for the collection and expenditure of the national revenues according to law;
8) To supervise the proper operation of administrative services and agencies;
9) To execute and enforce all resolutions and provisions on matters within their jurisdiction entered and issued by the Courts of Justice and electoral organizations, at their request;
10) To enter into and subscribe agreements, public treaties and concordats, and enact and execute them following their approval by the Legislative Assembly or by a Constitutional Assembly, when such an approval is required by this Constitution.
Protocols derived from such public treaties or international agreements that do not require legislative approval shall enter into force as soon as they are promulgated by the Executive Branch.
(As amended by Law No. 4123, May 31, 1968.)
11) To submit to the Legislative Assembly such reports as it may request in exercise of the powers vested in it;
12) To direct the international relations of the Republic;
13) To receive Heads of State and diplomatic representatives and admit the Consuls from other nations;
14) To convoke the Legislative Assembly for regular and extraordinary sessions;
15) To send to the Legislative Assembly the proposed National Budget at the time and in accordance with the requirements set forth in this Constitution;
16) To dispose of the law enforcement forces to preserve the order, defense, and security of the country;
17. To issue navigation licenses;
18) To issue suitable Regulations for the internal operation of their offices as well as other regulations and ordinances as required for the prompt application of the laws;
19) To subscribe the administrative contracts not included in subsection 14) of Article 121 of this Constitution, but with the requirement of submitting them to the approval of the Legislative Assembly when they provide for exemption from taxes or duties, or when their purpose is the exploitation of public services, or the natural wealth or resources of the State.
(Note: There was a sentence at the end of this paragraph in the original text of this Article, which was repealed by Article 2 of Law No. 5702 of June 5, 1975.)
The legislative approval of these contracts does not give them the nature of laws nor does it exempt them from being under their legal administrative regime. The provisions contained in this subsection are not applicable to the loans or other similar agreements to which subsection 15) of Article 121 refers, which are governed by their special rules.
(As amended by Article 2 of Law No. 5702, June 5, 1975.)
(Note: Article 2 of Law No. 5702 of June 5, 1975 repealed the final sentence of this subsection, which referred to the exception of agreements or contracts governed by special laws, known as "law contracts". This legal concept was suppressed by means of this amendment.)
20) To comply with any other duties and exercise any other powers vested in them by this Constitution and the laws.
Chapter 3. The Cabinet Ministers
There shall be the Cabinet Ministers established by law for the management of the matters pertaining to the Executive Branch. One Minister may be in charge of two or more Ministries.
In order to be a Minister, it is required to:
1) Be a citizen in the exercise of his or her rights;
2) Be a Costa Rican by birth, or else by naturalization with ten years of residence in the country after naturalization;
3) Be a layman or a laywoman;
4) Be at least twenty-five years old.
The office of Minister is not compatible with the exercise of any other public position, by popular election or otherwise, except when special laws establish additional duties for them. The rules, prohibitions and sanctions set forth in Articles 110, 111, and 112 of this Constitution are applicable to Ministers when appropriate.
Vice Presidents of the Republic may hold office as Ministers.
Cabinet Ministers shall submit to the Legislative Assembly every year, within the first fifteen days of the first period of regular sessions, a report on matters that concern their Ministries.
The Cabinet Ministers may attend sessions of the Legislative Assembly at any time, with the right to speak but not to vote, and are required to do so when ordered by the Assembly.
The decrees, resolutions and orders of the Executive Branch require the signatures of the President of the Republic and the appropriate Minister in order to be valid, and in addition, in those cases set forth by this Constitution, the approval of the Government Council.
The signature of the President of the Republic shall be sufficient for appointment and removal of Ministers.
Chapter 4. The Government Council
The Government Council is composed of the President of the Republic and the Ministers, being presided over by the former, to perform the following functions:
1) To request from the Legislative Assembly a declaration of a state of national defense and authorization to order military recruitment, organize the army and negotiate peace;
2) To exercise the right of pardon in the manner established by law;
3) To appoint and remove the Diplomatic Representatives of the Republic;
4) To appoint the directors of autonomous institutions when such appointments are a duty of the Executive Branch;
5) To take care of any other matters submitted by the President of the Republic who, if the gravity of any matter so requires, may invite other persons to participate in the deliberations of the Council in a consultative position.
Chapter 5. Responsibility of The People Exercising the Executive Power
The President of the Republic shall be responsible for his exercise of those powers vested exclusively to him under this Constitution. Each Cabinet Minister shall be jointly responsible with the President for the exercise of powers that this Constitution vests in both. The responsibility for the acts of the Government Council shall extend to all those who voted to adopt the resolution in question.
The President of the Republic and any Cabinet Minister who have been involved in any of the acts listed below, shall also be jointly responsible:
1) If these acts in any way compromise the freedom, the political independence or the territorial integrity of the Republic;
2) If they directly or indirectly prevent or hinder popular elections or violate the principles of alternation in the office of the Presidency or of free presidential succession, or the freedom, order or purity of suffrage;
3) If they prevent or hinder the functions of the Legislative Assembly or restrict its freedom and independence;
4) If they refuse to publish or execute the laws or any other legislative acts;
5) If they prevent or hinder the functions of the Judicial Branch or restrict the freedom of the Courts to judge cases submitted to their decision, or if they in any way hinder the functions of electoral bodies or the Municipal Governments;
6) In any other case in which by action or omission may the Executive Branch violate a specific law.
The responsibility of the occupant of the Presidency of the Republic and of Cabinet Ministers for facts not involving any crime may be claimed only while they are in office and for one year after their functions cease.
The President, the Vice Presidents of the Republic or whoever is occupying the Presidency, may not be prosecuted or tried except when, after impeachment proceedings, the Legislative Assembly declares that there are grounds for initiating criminal proceedings.
Title 11. Judicial Power
The judicial power is exercised by the Supreme Court of Justice and by other courts established by law.
In addition to the functions vested in it by this Constitution, the Judicial Branch shall hear civil, criminal, commercial, labor, and administrative-litigation cases, as well as any others established by law, regardless of their nature or the status of the persons involved; enter final resolutions thereon and execute the judgments entered, with the assistance of law enforcement forces, if necessary.
The Judicial Branch is subject only to the Constitution and the law, and the decisions entered by it on matters within its competence impose no responsibilities other than those specifically set forth in legislation.
No court may take over cognizance of cases pending in another court. Only the courts of the Judicial Branch may request Court files ad effectum vivendi.
The Supreme Court of Justice is the highest court of the Judicial Branch, and all courts, officials and employees of the Judicial Branch are subordinate to it, without prejudice of any provisions of this Constitution concerning civil service.
The Supreme Court of Justice shall be composed of the number of Justices that may be considered necessary for a good service; they shall be elected by the Legislative Assembly, which shall make up the different Court Chambers established by law.
A reduction in the number of Justices, whatever this may be, can only be decided in accordance with all procedures established for partial amendments to this Constitution. (As amended by Law No. 1749, June 8, 1954.)
The Justices of the Supreme Court of Justice shall be elected for eight years and shall be considered as reelected for equal terms, unless otherwise decided by the Legislative Assembly by a vote of two thirds of its entire membership. Vacancies shall be filled to complete the full eight year terms.
The following is required to be a Justice:
1. To be a Costa Rican by birth, or by naturalization, with residence in the country for no less than ten years after obtaining the appropriate naturalization certificate.
However, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall be a Costa Rican by birth;
2. To be a citizen in the exercise of his rights;
3. To be a layman;
4. To be over thirty-five years of age;
5. To have a degree in Law issued or legally recognized in Costa Rica and to have practiced the profession for at least ten years, except in the case of judicial officials with not less than five years of judicial experience. (The first paragraph of this section was amended by Law No. 2026, June 15, 1956.)
Before taking office, Justices shall provide an official bond as provided by law.
No person related to a member of the Supreme Court of Justice by consanguinity or affinity to the third degree inclusive may be elected Justice.
The position of Justice is incompatible with that of any official of the other Supreme Branches.
The Supreme Court of Justice shall appoint its Chief Justice from the list of Justices who compose it. It shall also appoint the Chief Justices of the various chambers in the manner and for the term as provided by law. (As amended by Law No. 6769, June 2, 1982.)
The election of the justices of the Supreme Court of Justice shall be held at any of the ten sessions prior to completion of the respective period; replacements shall be decided at any of the eight sessions subsequent to the one in which notice of a vacancy is received.
The Legislative Assembly shall appoint no less than twenty-five alternate Justices, selected from a list of fifty candidates submitted by the Supreme Court of Justice. Temporary absences of Justices shall be filled by lot by the Supreme Court from the list of alternates. If there is a vacancy among the alternate Justices, one of two candidates proposed by the Supreme Court shall be elected at the first regular or special session of the Legislative Assembly after receipt of the appropriate notice. The law shall specify the term of office and the conditions, restrictions, and prohibitions established for regular Justices, which are not applicable to alternates.
Justices of the Supreme Court of Justice may not be suspended, but upon declaration that there is a reason to institute proceedings or for other reasons established by law in the appropriate chapter concerning disciplinary measures. In the latter case, the resolution shall be adopted by the Supreme Court of Justice, doing so by secret vote of no less than two thirds of its full membership.
Where not foreseen in this Constitution, the law shall specify the jurisdiction, number, and duration of courts, as well as their powers, the principles on which they shall base their actions and the manner in which they may be held responsible.
For discussion and passage of bills of law concerning the organization or functioning of the Judicial Branch, the Legislative Assembly shall consult the Supreme Court of Justice. It shall require a vote of two-thirds of the entire membership of the Assembly to depart from the views of the Court.
Title 12. The Law Regarding Municipalities
For purposes of the Public Administration, the national territory is divided into provinces. They are divided into cantons and the cantons into districts. The law may establish special circumscriptions.
The Legislative Assembly, by observing the procedures required for a partial amendment of this Constitution, may create new provinces, provided that the appropriate proposal be previously approved by a plebiscite which the Assembly shall order to be held in the province or provinces which are to be divided.
The creation of new cantons shall be approved by the Legislative Assembly by a vote of no less than two thirds of the entire membership.
The administration of local interests and services in each canton shall be entrusted to the Municipal Government, consisting in a deliberative body composed of municipal council members designated by popular election and an executive official to be designated by law.
The municipal entities are autonomous.
Municipal council members shall be elected for a term of four years and they shall hold office compulsorily.
The law shall specify the number of municipal council members and the manner in which they shall serve.
However, the Municipal Governments of the central cantons of provinces shall consist of no less than five regular council members and a like number of alternates.
The Municipal Governments shall be installed on the first day of May of the appropriate year. (As amended by subsection 2 of the single Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
Each district shall be represented in the municipality of the respective canton by a regular representative (síndico) and an alternate, entitled to speak but not to vote.
Municipal ordinances may be:
1. Objected to by the official designated by law, by means of a duly reasoned veto;
2. Appealed by any interested party.
In either case, if the Municipal Government does not revoke or amend the ordinance objected or appealed, the case shall be referred to such Court of the Judicial Branch as determined by law, for final resolution thereof.
The law shall specify those cases in which Municipal Governments require legislative authorization to subscribe loan agreements, encumber their properties or revenues, or dispose of real or personal property.
Municipal Governments shall fix their ordinary and extraordinary budgets. In order to take effect, they shall be approved by the Office of the Comptroller General, which shall supervise their execution.
Title 13. Finances
Chapter 1. The Budget of the Republic
The ordinary budget of the Republic encompasses all probable revenues and all authorized expenditures of the public administration during the fiscal year. In no case may the amount of budgetary expenditures exceed that of probable revenues.
The Municipal Governments and autonomous institutions shall observe the foregoing rules when issuing their budgets.
The budget of the Republic shall be issued for a period of one year, from the first day of January to the thirty-first day of December.
The Executive Branch shall prepare the ordinary budget through a specialized department, the head of which shall be appointed by the President of the Republic for a term of six years. This Department shall have authority to reduce or suppress any items in the proposed budgets drawn up by the Cabinet Ministers, the Legislative Assembly, the Supreme Court of Justice and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. In the event of any conflict, the President of the Republic shall make the final decision. The expenditures budgeted by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal for suffrage purposes cannot be objectedto by the Department to which this Article refers.
The budget shall allocate to the Judicial Branch an amount of no less than six percent of the ordinary income estimated for the fiscal year. However, when this amount is greater than the sum required to cover the basic needs budgeted by said Branch, said Department shall designate the difference as excess revenue, together with a plan for additional expenditure, in order that the Legislative Assembly may take the appropriate measures.
In order to obtain comprehensive social security coverage and to fully guarantee the payment of the State contribution, both as the State and as employer, sufficient revenues shall be allocated to the Costa Rican Social Security Administration, duly calculated to satisfy the current and future needs of the Institution. If a deficit occurs as a result of insufficient revenues, the State shall assume this obligation, for which the Executive Branch shall include in the next budget the appropriate amount considered by said institution as necessary to cover the total State payments.
The Executive Branch shall prepare for each fiscal year the proposed extraordinary budgets, for the expenditure of revenues derived from the use of public credit or from any other extraordinary source. (As amended by Law No. 2345, May 20, 1959, and Law No. 2738, May 12, 1961.)
The proposed ordinary budget shall be submitted to the Legislative Assembly by the Executive Branch not later than the first day of September of each year and the Budget Law shall be finally enacted before the thirtieth day of November of the same year.
The Assembly may not increase the expenditures budgeted by the Executive Branch unless it also provides for new revenues to be collected, upon prior opinion of the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic as to the fiscal effectiveness thereof.
The regular and extraordinary budgets constitute the limit of the action by Public Powers in the use and disposal of State funds, and they may be amended only by laws proposed by the Executive Branch.
Any proposed amendment that implies an increase in or the creation of expenditures shall be subject to the terms of the foregoing Article.
However, when the Assembly is in recess, the Executive Branch may alter the intended use of an authorized item or open additional credits, but only to meet urgent or unforeseen necessities in the event of war, internal commotion or public calamity. In such cases, the Office of the Comptroller may not withhold approval of expenditures so ordered and the respective Decree shall imply the convocation of the Legislative Assembly to special sessions to act upon it.
The Executive Branch shall submit to the Office of the Comptroller the liquidation of the regular and any extraordinary budgets, not later than the first day of March following expiration of the year in question. The Office of the Comptroller shall submit it to the Assembly, together with its opinion, not later than the next first day of May. The final approval or disapproval of the items corresponds to the Legislative Assembly.
Contracts for performance of public works entered into by State Branches, Municipal Governments and autonomous institutions, purchases made with funds of those entities, and sales or leases of their property shall be carried out by means of bidding proceedings, in accordance with the provisions of law governing the amount involved.
Chapter 2. The Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic
The Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic is an auxiliary institution of the Legislative Assembly in its surveillance of the Public Finances; but it has full functional and administrative independence in the performance of its duties.
A Comptroller and an Assistant Comptroller shall be in charge of the Comptroller's Office. Both officials shall be appointed by the Legislative Assembly for a term of eight years, two years after the commencement of a presidential term. They can be reelected indefinitely, enjoying the immunities and prerogatives of the members of the Supreme Branches.
The Comptroller and the Assistant Comptroller are responsible to the Assembly for the performance of their duties and may be removed by it by a vote of no less than two-thirds of the entire membership, if their unfitness or misconduct is demonstrated in the proceedings conducted for the purpose.
The powers and duties of the Comptroller's Office are:
1. To supervise the execution and liquidation of the ordinary and extraordinary budgets of the Republic;
No order of payment against State funds shall be issued unless the respective expenditure has been countersigned by the Comptroller's Office; and there shall be no obligation for the State unless it has been so countersigned;
2. To examine and approve or disapprove the budgets of the Municipal Governments and the autonomous institutions, and supervise their execution and liquidation;
3. To submit a report on an annual basis to the Legislative Assembly, at its first regular session, covering the preceding fiscal year, including a detail of the work of the Comptroller and any opinions or suggestions he may deem necessary for a better management of public funds;
4. To examine, audit and close the accounts of State institutions and public officials;
5. Any other powers vested in it by this Constitution or the laws.
Chapter 3. The National Treasury
The National Treasury is the center of operations for all national revenue offices. This is the only body legally empowered to pay out funds on behalf of the State and to receive any amounts that, as revenues or for any other reason, have to enter to the National Treasury.
A National Treasurer and an Assistant Treasurer shall be in charge of the Treasury. Both officials are independent in the performance of their duties, which shall be regulated by law. They are appointed by the Government Council for a term of four years, and may be removed only for due cause.
Any expenditure by the National Treasury, not related to the wages of the permanent personnel of the Public Administration, duly included in the budget, shall be published in the Official Journal.
Those expenditures that for very special reasons the Government Council believes should not be published shall be exempted from this formality, but in this event, the Legislative Assembly and the Comptroller's Office shall be given notice confidentially without delay.
Title 14. Autonomous Institutions
The autonomous institutions of the State enjoy administrative independence and are subject to the law in matters of government. Their directors are liable for their management. (As amended by Law No. 4123, May 31, 1968.)
The autonomous institutions are:
1. The State banks;
2. The State insurance institutions;
3. Those established by this Constitution and any new institutions that the Legislative Assembly may create by a vote of no less than two thirds of its entire membership.
For discussion and passing of bills of law concerning an autonomous institution, the Legislative Assembly shall previously hear the opinion of that entity.
Title 15. Social Service
A civil service statute shall regulate the relations between the State and public employees for the purpose of guaranteeing the efficiency of the administration.
With the exceptions that this Constitution and the civil service statute may determine, public employees shall be appointed on the basis of proven ability, and may be removed only on the grounds for justified termination as set forth in the labor legislation; or in case of a forced reduction in services, either because of lack of funds or striving to have a better organization of such services.
The President of the Republic, the Cabinet Ministers and the officials who manage public funds are required to declare their property, which must be duly appraised in accordance with the law.
Title 16. The Constitutional Oath
The oath that must be taken by public officials as provided in Article 11 of this Constitution is as follows:
"Do you swear before God and promise the Country to observe and defend the Constitution and the laws of the Republic and faithfully fulfill the duties of your office?
Yes, I swear. If you do, may God help you, and if you do not, may He and the Country call you to account."
Title 17. Amendments to The Constitution
The Legislative Assembly may partially amend this Constitution complying strictly with the following provisions:
1. A proposal asking for the amendment of one or more Articles must be submitted to the Assembly at regular sessions, signed by at least ten representatives.
2. The proposal shall be read three times at intervals of six days, to determine whether or not it shall be admitted for discussion.
3. If admitted, it shall be sent to a commission appointed by absolute majority of the Assembly, which has to render its opinion within a period of twenty business days. (As amended by Law No. 6053, June 15, 1977.)
4. Upon submission of this opinion, it shall be discussed in accordance with the procedure established for enactment of laws; said amendment shall be approved by a vote of no less than two thirds of the entire membership of the Assembly.
5. Once the amendment has been favorably voted, the Assembly shall prepare the appropriate bill of law through a commission, being an absolute majority enough for its approval.
6. Said bill of law shall be sent to the Executive Branch, which in turn shall send it with the Presidential Message to the Assembly at the start of the next regular legislative period, with his observations, or his recommendation;
7. The Legislative Assembly, at its first sessions, shall discuss the bill of law in three debates. If it is approved by a vote of no less than two thirds of the entire membership, it shall become a part of the Constitution and communicated to the Executive Branch for publication and observance thereof.
A general amendment of this Constitution can only be made by a Constituent Assembly called for the purpose. A law calling such Assembly shall be passed by a vote of no less than two thirds of the total membership of the Legislative Assembly and does not require the approval of the Executive Branch. (As amended by Law No. 4123, May 31, 1968.)
Title 18. Final Provisions
This Constitution shall enter into force on the eighth day of November, 1949, and does repeal all others. The existing legal system shall continue in force unless amended or repealed by the competent organs of the Public Power or as long as is not expressly or implicitly repealed by the present Constitution.
I (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961)
The persons who have opted for another nationality and have lost the Costa Rican nationality may recover it in accordance with Article 16 as amended, By means of simple application, Oral or written, Before the Civil Registry. This office shall take note and conduct the appropriate proceedings. The application shall be filed within two years following the entrance into force of this amendment.
(Sole transitory provision, Law No. 7514, June 6, 1995.)
Until enactment of the law to which the second paragraph of Article 78 of the Constitution refers, The gross domestic product shall be determined in accordance with the procedure established by a decree issued by the Executive Branch.
(Sole transitory provision, Law No. 7676, July 23, 1997.)
II (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961)
For fiscal years 1977 to 1980 inclusive, The University of Costa Rica, The Technological Institute of Costa Rica and the National University shall be allocated under the General Budget of Expenditures of the State, Any subsidies necessary to supplement their revenues in order to guarantee them, In accordance with the availability of funds established by Law 5909 of June 10, 1976, The global amounts for operation indicated for those same years in conformity with the document "Resumen de acuerdos de las Instituciones de Educación Superior y propuesta financiera al Gobierno para el desarrollo de la Educación Superior" (Summary of Agreements of the Institutions of Higher Education and Financial Proposal to the Government for the Development of Higher Education), Approved by the Liaison Committee on September 6, 1976 on the basis of the Agreement for Coordination of Higher Education in Costa Rica.
As for investment expenditures, The Executive Branch shall negotiate by common agreement with the National Council of Rectors the international loans that may be necessary and will take charge of financing the counterpart funds and the resulting debt service for the entire appropriate period, Taking into account the availability of fiscal resources.
Not later than the 1979-1980 sessions, The Legislative Assembly shall establish the constitutional provisions necessary to guarantee an effective financing for higher education, As established in Article 85 for the years subsequent to 1980.
(As amended by Article 2, Law No. 6052, June 15, 1977.)
During the five-year term of 1981-1985, The distribution of the special fund to which this Article refers shall be as follows: 59% For the University of Costa Rica, 11.5% For the Technological Institute of Costa Rica, 23.5% For the National University and 6% For the State Remote Education University.
(As amended by Law No. 6580, May 18, 1991.)
III (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
The current Justices of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal can continue in office until expiration of their current constitutional terms, Under the same working conditions of their appointment, Or abide by the amended provisions.
(As amended by Law No. 2345, May 20, 1959.)
The election of the three new alternate Justices shall take place within two months following enactment of this constitutional amendment. In this act, The Supreme Court of Justice shall fix by draw the date of expiration of the term in office of said alternate justices, In order to adjust it to the date of expiration of the term in office of the alternates appointed before this amendment and to proceed therein after to elect two of the alternates every two years.
(As amended by Law No. 3513 of June 24, 1965.)
IV (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
V (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
VI (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
VIII. The Legislative Assembly members elected at the elections to be held in October, Nineteen hundred and forty-nine, Called for the purpose by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Shall take office on the eighth day of November of said year, Ceasing to perform their duties as such on the thirty-first day of October, Nineteen hundred and fifty-three. The President of the Republic, The Vice-presidents and the Legislative Assembly members to be elected at the elections of nineteen hundred and fifty-three, Which date shall be fixed in due course by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Shall hold office for four and a half years, That is: The President and Vice Presidents from the eighth day of November of that year to the eighth day of May, Nineteen hundred and fifty-eight, And the Legislative Assembly members from the first day of November, Nineteen hundred and fifty-three to the thirtieth day of April, Nineteen hundred and fifty-eight, In order that thereafter the Presidential Term may start on the eighth day of May, The Legislative Assembly may be installed on the first of that month, And the elections for President and Legislative Assembly members may be held in February of the same year.
VIII (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
Article 132 (Subsection 1)
The current ex-Presidents of the Republic may be reelected only once in accordance with the provisions of Article 132 prior to this amendment.
(As amended by Law No. 4349, July 11, 1969.)
IX (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
X (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
XI (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
XI. The Cabinet Ministers who are appointed at the beginning of the next presidential term shall have the functions specified in the existing laws concerning the Secretaries of State, Until new legislation is enacted on the subject.
XII (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
XIII (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
XV (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
XVI (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
The Municipal Council Members elected at the elections held in February, Nineteen hundred and sixty-two shall hold office from the first day of July, Nineteen hundred and sixty-two to the thirtieth day of April, Nineteen hundred and sixty-six.
(As amended by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
XVII (Repealed by subsection 1, Sole Article of Law No. 2741, May 12, 1961.)
Article 177 (First paragraph)
The percentage to which Article 177 refers for the budget of the Judicial Branch shall be fixed in an amount equal to no less than three and one-fourth percent for 1958; In an amount equal to no less than four percent for 1959 and in an amount equal to no less than one percent more for each of the subsequent years, Until reaching the minimum six percent indicated.
(As amended by Laws No. 2122 of May 22, 1975, No. 2345 of May 20, 1959 and No. 2738 of May 12, 1961, All of which have kept this text)
Article 177 ( Third paragraph)
The Costa Rican Social Security Administration Fund shall accomplish a comprehensive coverage of the various types of Social Security benefits for which it is responsible, Including family protection under the health and maternity plan, Within a period of time not to exceed ten years, Counted from the date of enactment of this constitutional amendment.
(As amended by No. Law 2738, May 12, 1961.)
Given in the National Assembly, Palacio Nacional in San Jose on November 7, 1949.
* M.Rodríguez C. First Vice-president
* Edmundo Montealegre. Second Vice-president
* F. Vargas F. First Secretary
* G. Ortiz M. Second Secretary
* Enrique Montiel G. First Pro secretary
* Vicente Desanti L. Second Pro secretary