Nicaragua
Head of state and government
Daniel Ortega Saavedra
Death penalty
abolitionist for all crimes
Population
5.9 million
Life expectancy
74 years
Under-5 mortality
25.6 per 1,000
Adult literacy
78 per cent

At least four people died and scores more were injured in post-election violence. Rape and sexual abuse were widespread. The total ban on all forms of abortion remained in force. The independence of the judiciary was called into question.

Background

In the wake of the November elections, violence erupted amid widespread allegations of electoral fraud. At least four people were killed and scores were injured in confrontations across the country between supporters and opponents of Daniel Ortega, who was re-elected for a third term as President.

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Violence against women and girls

Rape and sexual abuse remained a concern. Despite this, in July the Supreme Court of Justice reduced the sentence imposed on Farinton Reyes for the rape in 2009 of his co-worker, Fátima Hernández, to four years’ imprisonment. The Court sought to justify its decision on the grounds that Farinton Reyes had committed the crime while under the influence of alcohol and in a state of sexual excitement that he could not control. The judges also argued that Fátima Hernández had acted permissively and co-operated in the rape.

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Sexual and reproductive rights

The total ban on all forms of abortion remained in force, giving rise to serious violations of the rights of women and girls. The revised criminal laws, which came into force in 2008, allow for no exceptions to the ban. As a result women and girls who were pregnant as a result of rape or whose lives or health were threatened by continued pregnancy were denied the right to seek safe and legal abortion services. All abortion remained a criminal offence and anyone seeking, or assisting someone seeking, an abortion risked prosecution.

In March, the state was urged by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to take action to put an end to sexual violence against women and girls and to repeal the total ban on abortion.

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Freedom of expression

Reports of intimidation of media workers increased in the context of a heated political debate in the run-up to the November presidential elections.

  • On 19 February, an unidentified individual telephoned journalist Luis Galeano and threatened: “You have 72 hours to change your mind about what you’ll publish, otherwise your family won’t see you again.” The caller alluded to an investigation that Galeano and a colleague had carried out into a corruption case involving misuse of public funds by officials of the Supreme Electoral Council. The officials were alleged to have misappropriated an estimated US$20 million between 2004 and 2008. A few hours prior to the call, Luis Galeano had received a message left for him by an unidentified man at the reception desk of the offices of his newspaper, El Nuevo Diario. The message also contained a reference to his research on the corruption case and warned him not to publish the article.

In November, following the announcement by the Supreme Electoral Council of Daniel Ortega’s victory in the presidential elections, crowds took to the streets across the country in protest.

  • On 10 November, a group of around 30 youth activists from the Nicaragua 2.0 Movement taking part in an anti-Ortega demonstration outside the University of Central America in Managua were allegedly threatened and attacked by supporters of the youth wing of the Sandinista National Liberation Front. Police officers present at the scene reportedly did not intervene to prevent the attacks. Local and international NGOs demanded that action be taken to protect the right of all Nicaraguans to demonstrate peacefully.
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Country Visits

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Nicaragua in July.