Nicaragua - Committee Against Torture - Domestic Violence - June 2020

On June 22, 2020, the Advocates for Human Rights submitted a report for the 70th Session of the Committee Against Torture. This report focuses on domestic violence and retaliation against women political activists in Nicaragua.   

 

Domestic and gender-based violence against women continues to be widespread in Nicaragua; statistics show that one in every two women in Nicaragua have experienced some sort of violence in her lifetime. Although the government of Nicaragua passed the country’s first legislation combatting violence against women—Law 779—in 2012, it fails to offer adequate support for victims of domestic violence. For instance, police units designed to deal with cases of gender-based violence (known as comisarias) were only allocated enough resources to process 187 of the 403,740 cases received between 2006 and 2012. The comisarias were disbanded in 2016.  

 

Mediation has risen to the forefront of Nicaragua’s domestic violence legislation. In 2013, the National Assembly approved a modified law that reinstated mediation for first-level and minor offenses. Police will often recommend mediation for such offenses rather than intervene. Because of the widespread use of mediation, many women distrust the police and refuse to report instances of domestic violence. Mediation is a harmful and ultimately ineffective strategy because it often leads to re-victimization and re-traumatization.   

 

The Nicaraguan government also violently retaliated against anti-government protesters between 2018 and 2019 even though the Nicaraguan Constitution gives citizens the right to criticize the government. In particular, the government threatened many women participating in the protests.  

 

The authors of the report provided a number of suggested questions for the government of Nicaragua. These suggested questions include:  

  • What funding does the Government provide to the Ministry of the Family to facilitate the implementation of Law 779? 
  • What funding and other support has the Government allocated to police units designed to handle cases of domestic violence? 
  • Please describe the policies and procedures in place to ensure that law enforcement and other members of the justice system appropriately respond to and process cases of domestic violence? 
  • Have authorities investigated any allegations of Government officials or police officers threatening a woman human rights defender? Have any officials been tried or held accountable for such threats?