Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jail for arranged marriages in Costa Rica signed into law

(Inside Costa Rica) - President, Oscar Arias, today placed his signature on the law that bans marriages by proxy that is used by foreigners to remain legal in Costa Rica.

The law reforms article 30 of the Family Code, eliminating the possibility of foreigners marrying Costa Rican nationals solely for the purpose of obtaining their residency, many not ever meeting their spouse, known them from a name on a form and a photocopy of their identity card.

Although the law had been in the works for the last two and half years, it's signing came at a time when a group of Jamaicans have been linked to a series of crimes, including the killing of two judicial agents and an innocent woman.

Costa Rican authorities believe that the marriage by proxy loophole permitted many criminals, pedophiles and individuals contracting marriage, for amounts of a few thousand colones to thousands of dollars, to evade immigration controls.

The law punishes any individual and lawyers who participate in "arranged marriages" with a jail term of between three and six years.

Although president Arias signed the law at 1p.m. today (Wednesday), it will be about two weeks before it goes into effect, requiring publication in La Gaceta, the State's official newspaper.

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