Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Nicaragua
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||4 June 2008|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Nicaragua, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484f9a3037.html [accessed 31 March 2015]|
NICARAGUA (Tier 2)
Nicaragua is a source country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women and children are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation within the country and transnationally, primarily to Guatemala and El Salvador. In smaller numbers, women and children are also trafficked for sexual exploitation to Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, Venezuela, Spain, and the United States. The most prevalent form of internal trafficking is believed to be the exploitation of minors in prostitution, including for child sex tourism. However, children are also trafficked within the country for forced labor in construction, agriculture, the fishing industry, and for domestic servitude. Districts with identified human trafficking activity include Rio San Juan, Rivas, Madriz, Chinandega, Managua, Esteli, and Nueva Segovia. Young Nicaraguan males are also trafficked for the purpose of forced labor in agriculture and construction from southern border areas to Costa Rica.
The Government of Nicaragua does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government made solid efforts to address sex trafficking through prosecutions, convictions, and awareness-raising campaigns; however, it failed to address the problem of labor trafficking. Overall victim protection efforts remained weak.
Recommendations for Nicaragua: Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict, and punish trafficking offenders, including government officials suspected of complicity with trafficking activity; prosecute and convict labor traffickers under existing forced labor laws; bring the new penal code package which will replace Article 203 with stronger anti-trafficking statutes into force; develop and enact laws criminalizing trafficking of children and adults for forced labor; train personnel within the Ministry of the Family and its Social Protection Centers to provide specialized care for sex and labor trafficking victims; and provide care for adult trafficking victims.
The Government of Nicaragua demonstrated sustained efforts to combat trafficking through law enforcement during the reporting period. Nicaragua does not prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, though it criminalizes child and adult trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation through Article 203. The prescribed penalties for sex trafficking are four to 10 years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other grave crimes. Penal code Article 177 prohibits the promotion of child sex tourism through travel tours and advertising campaigns, prescribing five to seven years' imprisonment and a fine. In November 2007, the National Assembly passed a penal code reform package that will replace existing Article 203 with stronger anti-trafficking statutes by increasing its penalties for sex trafficking to seven to 12 years' imprisonment, and criminalizing acts by those who facilitate the activities of traffickers. However, during the reporting period, the new amendment did not come into effect because the penal code reforms had not been published in the federal registry. Nicaragua's current and proposed laws fail to adequately prohibit the trafficking of adults or children for forced labor. During the year, the government reported that it investigated 17 trafficking cases, arrested 11 trafficking suspects, and prosecuted two cases against trafficking offenders, with both resulting in convictions. Sentences imposed ranged from four to nearly 10 years' imprisonment. Two suspected child traffickers remain under investigation. In July 2007, an Indonesian woman reported to authorities that she had been trafficked to Managua by a Nicaraguan employer for domestic servitude. The woman reportedly had been subjected to physical restraint, psychological coercion, and the withholding of her wages. While authorities referred the victim to IOM for repatriation, the government indicated it was not able to prosecute the employer because labor trafficking is not criminalized under Nicaraguan law. The employer later filed a complaint with police against IOM. In collaboration with NGOs, government officials received specialized training on recognizing, investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases. A 2007 study by the Institute of Public Policy and Strategic Studies reported that local municipal officials facilitated trafficking by assisting lawyers hired by traffickers to prepare fraudulent documents and identification cards used to transport victims. During the year, the government failed to conduct any investigations into official complicity in trafficking.
The Nicaraguan government made inadequate efforts to protect trafficking victims in the last year. The Ministry of the Family (MOF) provided services to child victims through 81 Special Protection Centers (SPC) and referred other victims to NGOs, but failed to provide data on the number of trafficking victims assisted during the year. The government does not operate shelters for adult trafficking victims. The Human Rights Ombudsman reported that the MOF and most of its SPCs lacked personnel trained to provide care to sex trafficking victims. The MOF continued to contribute personnel and resources to operate its donor-funded 24-hour trafficking telephone hotline, which provided victim callers with anti-trafficking information and car transportation to victim services. The hotline received more than 1,000 trafficking-related calls between April and December 2007. The National Police followed procedures to identify trafficking victims among females in the country's regulated prostitution sector. Nonetheless, NGOs reported that in some cases, due to lack of understanding of trafficking, police and judges treated victims as criminals for acts committed as a result of being trafficked. In most cases, the government encouraged victims to participate in trafficking investigations and prosecutions, though many refused due to fear of social stigma and retribution by traffickers. The government provided a legal alternative – temporary residency status – to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution.
The Nicaraguan government sustained solid efforts to raise awareness of trafficking during the last year. The Immigration and Migration Service continued to provide anti-trafficking videos to travelers. The Ministry of Education distributed NGO-funded anti-trafficking brochures to teachers, school children, and public officials. The government continued to publicize its free hotline through its "Call and Live" awareness campaign. In August 2007, the Ministry of Government hosted a regional anti-trafficking conference. The Women and Children Police Commissariats continued to educate the public about sex trafficking. To reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, the government continued the second phase of a regional program launched in 2006 to eradicate commercial sexual exploitation, which included measures to raise anti-trafficking awareness.