U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Nicaragua

Nicaragua (Tier 2 Watch List)

Nicaragua is a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Estimates of the total number of victims are difficult to assess; however, the Government of Nicaragua acknowledges that trafficking is a significant problem. Nicaraguans are trafficked from rural to urban areas within the country, and to other parts of Central America and Mexico for sexual exploitation. The majority of victims are children prostituted by their traffickers.

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. Nicaragua is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to eliminate trafficking. The government has a weak commitment to addressing trafficking. While there is some evidence of a commitment to fight trafficking, including the opening of an office in the Ministry of Government to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts, and limited work on cross-border cooperation and repatriations, anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts remain weak, particularly efforts to address trafficking-related corruption. To improve its trafficking efforts, the government should implement a more aggressive law enforcement strategy against commercial establishments that profit from the sexual exploitations of minors; revise and update laws to comply with international standards on trafficking in persons; and expand bilateral and regional anti-trafficking efforts.


The Government of Nicaragua, through its national anti-trafficking coalition, has a plan to fight trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children under the age of 14, which includes improved law enforcement as a priority. However, during the reporting period there was only one reported trafficking-related conviction. The government had a number of investigations and arrests, but failure to provide sufficient protection of victims has lead to prosecution failures. Several cases remain in the court and may lead to convictions in the future. Police closed some establishments known to be exploiting children, but greater efforts are needed to address the many clubs, bars, and other establishments offering children for sexual exploitation. In general, law enforcement is hampered by a lack of resources, personnel, and trafficking awareness. The legal framework is also an obstacle and needs to be modernized to criminalize underage prostitution. Nicaragua law currently does not criminalize the prostitution of minors, a severe form of trafficking in persons.


Nicaragua continued to provide inadequate services and protections for victims of trafficking over the last year. Foreign trafficking victims discovered illegally in the country are detained and face summary deportation without any consideration of the protection they may require as victims of trafficking in persons. The government does not fund shelters to assist trafficking victims, which is partially a reflection of the government's severe resource constraints. The government recognizes the dearth of victim protection and claims to be designing mechanisms to better assist and protect victims. Currently, the government cooperates and coordinates closely with NGOs in fighting sexual exploitation of minors. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has successfully worked to repatriate victims of trafficking. Efforts to increase regional cooperation are underway and should be continued.


Widespread poverty and unemployment leave many in the country, especially women and children, vulnerable to traffickers. Inadequate resources limit the government's ability to carry out long-term sustainable campaigns. Nonetheless, the government was able to undertake many meaningful prevention measures. The government conducted a successful trafficking awareness campaign run by the Women's Division of the National Police and the Ministry of Education. The two offices have implemented a program in high schools throughout Nicaragua to warn at-risk teenagers about trafficking. The police, working with school counselors, made presentations to students on the dangers of trafficking and hand out booklets containing a strong anti-trafficking message. The government's national anti-trafficking coalition initiated a separate large-scale public awareness campaign during 2004. The campaign included print materials and television and radio programs targeted at school-aged potential trafficking victims in locations where traffickers are known to recruit victims.


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