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Costa Rica created the first anti-hate strategy in Latin America.
Americas World News

Costa Rica created the first anti-hate strategy in Latin America.

She stated that in Costa Rican society, we are not taught about the presence of indigenous people in our country. This perpetuates discrimination and ignores the existence of these groups.

Faustina Torres belongs to the Bribri indigenous community in Costa Rica.

UN Costa Rica

Faustina Torres is a member of the Bribri tribe in Costa Rica.

In response to a concerning increase in hate speech and discrimination on online platforms, Costa Rica, with assistance from the UN, has been creating Latin America’s inaugural plan to combat this issue. The groundbreaking strategy, set to be revealed by 2023, seeks to establish the basis for future national policies.

“It is crucial that we prevent the normalization of hate, violence, and discrimination in both public and digital realms,” stated Jorge Rodríguez, the Communication Minister of Costa Rica, during the launch of the strategy. “We acknowledge the need for immediate action from not only the government, but also all members of society to confront this significant problem.”

and ‘confused’

Individuals who are being targeted are experiencing feelings of fear and confusion.

Attempts to unravel the social fabric may be virtual, but the threats are real. An artificial intelligence (AI) driven UN study earlier this year detected more than 1.4 million messages and conversations related to hate and discrimination on Costa Rica’s social media platforms, a 255 per cent spike since 2021.

Allegra Baiocchi, the country’s UN Resident Coordinator, stated that her team noticed a trend of hate speech directed towards women, specifically those in positions of leadership, LGBTQ individuals, and migrants.

“When we initiated conversations with women and those who were being targeted, they conveyed their feelings of fear and reluctance in expressing their opinions,” she stated.

Following the UN’s call for prompt action, Costa Rica took initiative by setting the foundation for a secure online environment for everyone. This can serve as a model for combatting online hate globally.

Multi-pronged approach

Following the UN Secretary-General’s objectives to eliminate hate, a diverse team of experts from both the UN and the Government will lead a new strategy. This strategy aims to combat the proliferation of hate online by proposing solutions, assigning accountability, implementing new monitoring measures, and identifying areas for intervention.

Ms. Baiocchi stated that the initiation of developing a national strategy signifies progress in the right direction.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Costa Rica, Allegra Baiocchi (right), visits a young mother who lives in an underserved neighborhood of San José, Costa Rica.

UN Costa Rica/Danilo Mora

Allegra Baiocchi, the UN Resident Coordinator in Costa Rica, pays a visit to a young mother residing in an impoverished area of San José, Costa Rica.

Actions that have been completed include the recent release of a handbook addressing the issue of digital violence against women in politics. Additionally, the Government has collaborated with the University of Costa Rica to create an observatory on hate speech, enacted a law to protect women in politics, and joined forces with the Lawyers Committee Association, who examined global laws on hate speech and created a guide for those impacted.

According to Ms. Baiocchi, in Costa Rica, individuals who have experienced hate speech can refer to this manual to learn about existing resources for self-protection. She also mentioned other ongoing efforts, such as incorporating debate into school curriculum.

“The underlying message of any effort to address hate speech and discrimination is the importance of mutual respect and coexistence,” she stated.

This aligns with the goal of UN Secretary-General António Guterres to eliminate hate speech both on the internet and in person. In light of the increasing occurrences of xenophobia, racism, intolerance, violent misogyny, antisemitism, and anti-Muslim sentiment worldwide, the Secretary-General introduced the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech in 2019.

“If not addressed,” he stated, “hate speech can have a detrimental impact on peace and progress, as it creates the foundation for disputes and animosity, leading to widespread violations of human rights.”

Find out more about how the UN is helping Costa Ricans here.

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