Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Nicaragua

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 14 June 2004
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Nicaragua, 14 June 2004, available at: [accessed 26 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Nicaragua (Tier 2)

Nicaragua is a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation. Nicaraguans are trafficked from rural to urban areas within the country, and to other parts of Central America and Mexico. Most victims are Nicaraguan children prostituted by their traffickers.

The Government of Nicaragua does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government's new measures announced in 2003 to fight sex trafficking of minors are commendable, but Nicaragua continues to lack an effective law enforcement strategy. As social agencies continue the slow process of removing children in poverty from prostitution, law enforcement officials need to move much more aggressively against commercial establishments that profit from this exploitation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should seek out Nicaraguan victims abroad and expand bilateral efforts to combat trafficking.


The government's new national plan to fight sexual exploitation of minors calls for law enforcement against child sex traffickers, but officials should also develop enforcement measures to address all forms of trafficking. In 2003, four traffickers were convicted: one club owner trafficker received 3-5 years in prison; three other traffickers were sentenced to four years and were required to compensate their victims. Nicaraguan law should be modernized to criminalize underage prostitution; Nicaraguan law currently permits minors aged 14-17 to engage in prostitution, which creates opportunities for traffickers.


Victim assistance is minimal for Nicaraguans and non-existent for foreigners. Foreign victims discovered illegally in the country are detained and face summary deportation. The government has understandably focused its victim protection plans on helping Nicaraguan minors in sexual exploitation. The government cooperates with NGOs in fighting sexual exploitation of minors, but there are no government shelters for such victims. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs helped two Nicaraguan victims return from Guatemala, but much work remains to be done in repatriating victims.


In 2003, the government launched a broad strategy to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The five-year plan is ambitious and its effectiveness will depend upon the sustained commitment of senior officials and resources. A broad national anti-trafficking coalition, which includes the government and NGOs, was formed in February 2004; the coalition plans to compile information about trafficking throughout the country and use the media to enhance public awareness. Facing scarce resources, most of the government's current efforts are tied to international donor funding. With this assistance, government agencies (e.g., the women's division of the national police and the Education Ministry) conduct awareness campaigns for high school students. The Immigration service and police seek to interdict international traffickers, but their efforts are complicated by the high incidence of migrant smuggling, and the fact that victims often fail to cooperate.

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