An A.M. Costa Rica reprint
Published Tuesday, July 29, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 149

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Contents copyrighted 2008 by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. (cédula juridica 3-101-290-170).  Republication without permission is prohibited under U.S. and Costa Rican laws and international conventions.


Granting refugee status is simply an obstruction of justice
Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

As a Costa Rican, I would like to thank A.M. Costa Rica for the excellent coverage of the Tomayko case. I appreciate the fact that you have not insulted our intelligence the way some other media have, by presenting a one-sided story, and I thank you for covering this story with professionalism and objectivity.

The release of Ms. Tomayko leaves me with a bittersweet taste:  I am happy for the little girls, who have no fault in the mess they were brought into, and for the Costa Rican husband, who has shown the emotional support one would expect from a spouse, but I am extremely sad for Alexandria's father, as the refugee status is basically an obstruction of justice, and the crime will be left unpunished. 

Further, a very bad precedent is created, where a woman simply says she kidnapped her child due to domestic violence, and no thorough investigation is required by Costa Rican authorities to grant her refugee status. It is an embarrassment to our country that our security minister would only consider the say of the fugitive mother and her close family members in order to make such an important decision, which could hurt our diplomatic relations with the United States.

It is also embarrassing that our President Oscar Arias would try to downplay the implications of such a decision by saying it is "such a small matter." My government is
basically saying that the U.S. is incapable of protecting a U.S. citizen if extradited. The national media has misstated the facts to make it seem that Ms. Tomayko fled the U.S. while only she had custody of her daughter, when in reality, both she and Mr. Cyprian, the father, had custody when she fled in 1996, and the child was not allowed to leave Tarrant County in Texas by a court order.

A.M. Costa Rica has also bravely pointed out that U.S. embassy officials apparently neglected their responsibility of communicating with U.S. Department of Justice authorities in order to quickly apprehend the suspect of international parental kidnapping as soon as the embassy had news of her whereabouts.

Now the U.S. Embassy, with a new ambassador and with the Justice Department and the FBI wondering what is going on, issues a statement that the U.S. is disappointed with the security minister's decision to grant Ms. Tomayko refugee status.  A.M. Costa Rica has done an outstanding job of covering this story, and it has served as a reference for local media who are serious about investigative journalism.

Some of us in the legal profession are taking note of these events, and trying to do something to prevent such miscarriages of justice from happening again.
 
Arcelio Hernandez
Attorney at Law
Heredia