Annual Report: Nicaragua 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Nicaragua 2010

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Head of state and government Daniel Ortega Saavedra
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 5.7 million
Life expectancy 72.7 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 29/22 per 1,000
Adult literacy 78 per cent

The total ban on all forms of abortion remained in force. Two thirds of rape victims whose cases were recorded between January and August 2009 were under 18. Intimidation and attacks on government critics increased, raising fears of curbs on the rights to freedom of expression and association.

Background

There were clashes between supporters of the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, FSLN) and government critics throughout the year.

Nicaragua remained one of a handful of states in the Americas not to have signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

In November a new post of Special Ombudsman for Sexual Diversity was created within the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman.

Sexual and reproductive rights

The total ban on all forms of abortion remained in force. Nicaraguan Ministry of Health figures showed an increase in maternal deaths during the first 19 weeks of 2009 as compared with the same period in 2008, rising from 20 to 33. Some 16 per cent of the 33 deaths in 2009 were due to complications following unsafe abortions; no such deaths had been recorded in the comparable period in 2008, before the law prohibiting all forms of abortion came into effect.

In May the UN Committee against Torture stated that it was "deeply concerned" that the Nicaraguan government had taken no steps to repeal the law, despite concerns having previously been expressed by three other UN committees.

The Supreme Court of Justice failed to rule on an appeal lodged in July 2008 challenging the constitutionality of the law prohibiting all forms of abortion, despite having committed itself to doing so by 6 May 2009.

Violence against women and girls

Official efforts to combat violence against women and girls were ineffective. Statistics from the Women and Children's Police Unit stated that 1,259 rapes were reported between January and August. Of these, two thirds involved girls aged 17 or under.

  • In August, a 13-year-old girl was stabbed to death with a bayonet by her stepfather, who had been released from prison three days earlier. He had been sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment for the aggravated rape which resulted in the girl's pregnancy, but was released on grounds of ill health after serving only eight months. No notice of his release was given to the girl or her family. There was reportedly no investigation into the court's decision to release him.

Human rights defenders

Women human rights defenders working to promote women's rights and sexual and reproductive rights were harassed by officials.