Republic of Nicaragua
Head of state and government: Daniel Ortega Saavedra

Human rights defenders as well as Indigenous and Afro-descendant groups were threatened and intimidated in retaliation for their work, particularly in the context of public protests. News outlets and civil society organizations faced harassment. Several people were killed and hundreds displaced as a result of an intensifying land conflict in the North Caribbean Coast. Violence against women continued; a total ban on abortion remained in place.


The Sandinista National Liberation Front party continued to excercise significant control over all branches of government. In November, the government formally approved an environmental impact study that would allow the construction of a major infrastructure project known as the Gran Canal Interoceánico, a channel connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, to go forward. Its fate was uncertain due to financial constraints.


The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) ordered Nicaragua to provide protection measures to the Miskito people, after the ongoing conflict between the Indigenous community and colonos (settlers) attempting to take over the community's ancestral land escalated in September. The Center for Justice and Human Rights of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua reported that between 2013 and 2015, 24 Miskitos had been killed, 30 attacked and hundreds more displaced.

Indigenous, Afro-descendant and other groups protesting against the Gran Canal Interoceánico were intimidated, attacked and arbitrarily detained, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH). In October, police officers created a roadblock to stop thousands of campesinos (peasant farmers) from protesting against the canal; several protesters were attacked by pro-government groups, according to the human rights organization Popol Na Foundation. Protesters accused the government of granting the licence for the canal without the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous Peoples who could be displaced by its construction.

Activists protesting against mining projects in Nicaragua were also intimidated and harassed, according to the CENIDH.


Government officials and supporters sought to repress and stigmatize the work of civil society organizations and media outlets that had been critical of the ruling party. In May, two members of the Center for Justice and International Law, a regional human rights organization, were denied entry into the country and deported when they arrived at the airport in the capital, Managua, to attend a human rights event. No official reason was given.[1]


In a hearing in October before the IACHR, Nicaraguan and regional human rights organizations discussed their concerns about human rights abuses against women and girls, including the total ban on abortion and access to justice for women and girls suffering from acts of violence or abuse. The Nicaraguan Network of Women Against Violence reported that 35 women and girls were murdered (classified as "femicide" in the Criminal Code) in the first half of the year, down from 47 in the same period in 2014. However, the NGOs expressed concern about reforms passed in 2013 that weakened the Comprehensive Law against Violence against Women (Law 779), by offering women mediation with their abusive partners in some cases of domestic violence.

[1] Nicaragua: Defensores de derechos humanos deportados arbitrariamente (AMR 43/1687/2015)

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