San Jose, September 3, 2014. Recently, the Nicaraguan State passed the Comprehensive Law number 779 against violence towards women. The reform has modified many important aspects of the law, which in turn translate into setbacks in compliance with the state obligation to effectively guarantee the right of women to live a life free of violence.
The revisions of Law 779 restrict the concept of violence towards women by establishing that only acts committed in a relationship between a couple will be punishable, that is to say, it excludes violence perpetrated in public or community environments by any person without bonds of affection.
The new reform also favors the application of mediation as a method of preventing and punishing violence towards women.
With respect to this procedural figure, in its report, “Access to Justice for Women Victims of Sexual Violence in Mesoamerica,” the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) stated its concern for the utilization of said mechanism because it generally harms the victims. According to the IACHR, women find themselves in a situation of disadvantage and inequality and therefore applying the mediation hinders their access to justice as well as the eventual punishment of the aggressor.
At the same time, the cited revisions modify the criminal definition of femicide and limits it to interpersonal relations of a couple, disrespecting what was previously established in the law when the crime was described, “in the context of power relations between men and women.” In only the first semester of 2014 in Nicaragua, the Red de Mujeres contra la Violencia reported 47 femicides, four more than during the same period in 2013.
Meanwhile, during the last trimester of 2013, Nicaragua’s Instituto de Medicina Legal evaluated 1162 women for sexual violence and 1659 for intrafamiliar violence.
Before this grave situation, both the Consejo de Derechos Humanos and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, through the observance of various thematic hearings and the evaluations conducted under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, have recommended that the Nicaraguan State adapt its legislation so that it guarantees rights to women and that it adopt effective public policies that prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women.
These international obligations also derive from the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, known as the “Convention of Belém do Pará,” ratified by the State of Nicaragua in 1995.
“The approved regulations do not constitute an effective action to protect the rights of girls and women. Nicaragua is not complying with its international obligations, leaving this group unprotected in a vulnerable situation,” stated Marcia Aguiluz, CEJIL Program Director for Central America and the Caribbean.
CEJIL respectfully calls on the Nicaraguan authorities to reform the revisions of Law 779 and to comply with its obligation to adjust said law to the international standards in relation to violence against women.
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