Nicaragua Human Rights

Concerns: Violence against women, freedom of expression, sexual and reproductive rights

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. 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 2010. Of these, two thirds involved girls aged 17 or under.

Freedom of expression and association

There was a series of incidents involving attacks on journalists, government critics and civil society activists.

In November, pro-government supporters in Managua attacked a group of protesters demonstrating against corruption and curbs on freedom of expression. FSLN supporters threw stones at them, breaking the glass entrance door of a police station where protesters had taken refuge. None of those involved in the attack had been arrested by the end of the year. The Civil Co-ordinating Committee (Coordinadora Civil, CC), a national network of civil society groups, reported attacks and intimidation of its members by FSLN supporters.

In August, CC members were attacked on their way to a cultural event after discussing a proposal for alternatives to the government's existing social and economic policies. More than 30 CC members were reportedly injured.

Leonor Martínez, a 24-year-old member of the CC, was attacked by three armed men in October as she returned home from a press conference in Managua on human rights violations. They beat her, breaking her arm in several places, and threatened that if she carried on working with the CC they would kill her and her family. The men had allegedly been involved in previous attacks on CC members. An investigation into the attack was opened. In November, Leonor Martínez received telephone threats which referred to her work with the CC. By the end of the year, no one had been brought to justice for any of the attacks on CC members.

Nicaragua Newsroom

February 15, 2021 • Report

Government Tactics to Silence Criticism and Social Demands Deepen Human Rights Crisis in Nicaragua

Since the current human rights erupted in Nicaragua in 2018, the government has clamped down on all forms of dissent or criticism. The authorities have pursued a policy of eradicating, at any cost, activism and the defense of human rights, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

October 18, 2018 • Report

Instilling terror: From lethal force to persecution in Nicaragua

From the beginning of June, the government of President Daniel Ortega intensified its strategy for repression in a so-called “clean-up” operation, targeting protesters with arbitrary arrests, torture, and the widespread and indiscriminate use of lethal force by police and heavily armed pro-government groups, said Amnesty International today in a new report.

May 29, 2018 • Report

Shoot to kill: Nicaragua’s strategy to suppress protest

Nicaraguan authorities have adopted a strategy of repression, characterized by the excessive use of force, extrajudicial executions, control of the media, and the use of pro-government armed groups, to crush protests in which at least 81 people have been killed, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.

August 3, 2017 • Report

Nicaragua: Country’s future for sale as canal threatens thousands with forced eviction

The Nicaraguan government must stop placing business before the future of the country and its people, Amnesty International said in a new report today looking at a secretive deal that will lead to the construction of a canal and other side projects that will affect the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people and might leave many homeless.

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

May 23, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: Nicaragua 2013

Republic of 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 …

June 30, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Nicaragua 2011

Head of state and government: Daniel Ortega Saavedra Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes Population: 5.8 million Life expectancy: 73.8 years Under-5 mortality (m/f): 29/22 per 1,000 Adult literacy: 78 …

March 26, 2011 • Report

Nicaragua: Listen to their voices and act. Stop the rape and sexual abuse of girls in Nicaragua

Rape and sexual abuse are widespread in Nicaragua, and the majority of victims are young. More than two thirds of all rapes...

March 19, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Nicaragua 2010

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 …