Nicaragua
Head of state and government
Daniel Ortega Saavedra

All forms of abortion remained criminalized. A new law on violence against women came into effect; most victims of rape and sexual violence were girls aged 17 and under.

Background

Three people died and dozens were wounded in the wake of municipal elections in November. Tensions had been heightened in the run-up to the elections by allegations of fraud and irregularities against the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, FSLN) and smaller parties allegedly allied to the FSLN, which continued to be reported on election day itself.

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Arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment

A fortnight after the municipal elections, continuing fraud allegations prompted clashes between supporters of the opposition Constitutional Liberal Party (Partido Liberal Constitucionalista, PLC) and supporters of the governing FSLN in Nueva Guinea, in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region.

Human rights organizations reported that PLC supporters were arrested by the police and ill-treated in custody. Detainees reported being beaten, and women and girl detainees said that they were forced to remove their clothes in front of male officers, who humiliated them and threatened them with sexual violence.

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Violence against women and girls

During the first six months of 2012, the Police Unit for Women and Children received 1,862 reports of sexual violence. Children aged 14 or under accounted for 1,048 of the victims and 80% of all victims were aged 17 or younger. Although the statistics did not reveal the gender of victims, previous government statistics have shown that women and girls make up the majority of victims of sexual violence.

  • In October, the police in Matagalpa, in the north of Nicaragua, were instructed to execute an arrest warrant against a teacher accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old pupil. However, the arrest warrant was not executed, allegedly due to a lack of space in the prison system and lack of police capacity; the teacher reportedly fled the city. At the end of the year, the accused remained at large.

The Integral Law Against Violence Against Women (Law 779) came into effect in June. While the law represented a positive step, lack of resources assigned to ensure its implementation remained a concern.

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Sexual and reproductive rights

All forms of abortion remained illegal.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Rapporteur on the Rights of Women visited Nicaragua in May and urged the government to repeal the total abortion ban and to examine the link between gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive rights.

In July, the Ministry of Health announced that over the decade 2000-2009, the number of births to girls aged between 10 and 14 had increased by 47.9%. Sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 14 is classed as statutory rape under Nicaraguan law.

On 28 September, human rights groups and women’s organizations protested against the government’s refusal to repeal the total abortion ban, and at the Supreme Court of Justice’s continuing failure to rule on a 2007 petition challenging the constitutionality of the total ban.

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