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Although there are no statistics to quantify the scope of sexual exploitation of children in Central America, anecdotal evidence, independent surveys and a string of recent arrests of Americans--as well as of other foreigners and locals--support the contention that the problem is growing.The increased demand for child prostitutes in this region and others stems partly from the mistaken impression that older prostitutes are more likely than younger ones to have AIDS or carry the HIV virus, experts say.Costa Rican law allows only women 18 and older to work as prostitutes. Costa Rica, which in 1999 drew more than 1 million foreign visitors for the first time, is Central America's leading tourist destination.Stiffer penalties enacted recently threaten prison terms of up to 10 years for anyone convicted of buying sex from a minor. It is also believed to have the region's most pronounced child-prostitution problem.Many children are promised work in Costa Rica, only to be sexually exploited when they arrive.Costa Rican children are believed to be trafficked to other countries for sexual exploitation purposes as well.
Immigration from Nicaragua has increasingly become a concern for the government.
The estimated 300,000-500,000 Nicaraguans in Costa Rica legally and illegally are an important source of - mostly unskilled - labor, but also place heavy demands on the social welfare system.
Costa Rica is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.
The lack of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law inhibited the government's ability to prosecute and convict traffickers, and prosecutors relied on several criminal statutes to bring traffickers to justice.
There were reports that persons were trafficked to, from, and within the country, most often for commercial sexual exploitation. The Committee welcomes the proposed amendment of the Adoption Act as a follow up to its previous recommendation to review its legislation in order to bring it in full compliance with article 21 of the Convention and the 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption.To a lesser but increasing extent, Costa Rica is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked into forced labor, particularly in agriculture, construction, restaurant work, the fishing industry, and as domestic servants.