The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today considered the combined seventh to tenth periodic report of Nicaragua in the absence of a delegation.
Committee Experts raised questions on the treatment of women human rights defenders in Nicaragua, and the lack of sufficient health services for women, among other issues.
At the beginning of the meeting, Ana Peláez Narváez, Committee Chairperson, said it was regretful that Nicaragua had not sent a delegation to introduce the report and engage in a constructive dialogue with the Committee, despite the repeated steps taken by the Committee and the Secretariat to cooperate with the State party. The doors for cooperation were open and the Committee looked forward to receiving Nicaragua for a dialogue at a session in the future.
Rosalia Concepción Bohorquez Palacios, Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Nicaragua rejected the malicious, biased and ill-intentioned questions on the report submitted by Nicaragua. The report clearly reflected the commitment of the Government to the restitution of the rights of Nicaraguan women. Nicaragua would continue to reject the harmful actions of the Committee and the countries of the West which used biased, partial and subjective information and sought to divert the goal of achieving peace for the nation.
The Permanent Representative of Nicaragua left the room after delivering her statement.
Committee Experts then raised questions on the situation of women in Nicaragua.
In concluding remarks, the Committee Chair reiterated her rejection of the statement of the Permanent Representative of Nicaragua, which undermined the impartiality of the Committee members. The doors remained open for dialogue with Nicaragua.
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s eighty-sixth session is being held from 9 to 27 October. All documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. Meeting summary releases can be found here. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed via the UN Web TV webpage.
The Committee will next meet in public at 5 p.m. on Friday, 27 October to close its eighty-sixth session.
The Committee has before it the combined seventh to tenth periodic report of Nicaragua (CEDAW/C/NIC/7-10).
Statement by Committee Chairperson
ANA PELÁEZ NARVÁEZ, Committee Chairperson, said it was regretful that Nicaragua had not sent a delegation to introduce the report and engage in a constructive dialogue with the Committee, despite the repeated steps taken by the Committee and the Secretariat to cooperate with the State party. To date, the Secretariat had not received any response to its official correspondence. The Committee reminded Nicaragua that the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women entailed a number of international obligations and engagements with respect to the Committee. The doors for cooperation were open and the Committee looked forward to receiving Nicaragua for a dialogue at a session in the future.
Statement by Nicaragua
ROSALIA CONCEPCIÓN BOHORQUEZ PALACIOS, Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Nicaragua rejected the malicious, biased and ill-intentioned questions on the report submitted by Nicaragua. The report clearly reflected the commitment of the Government to the restitution of the rights of Nicaraguan women. Nicaragua would continue to reject the harmful actions of the Committee and the countries of the West which used biased, partial and subjective information and sought to divert the goal of achieving peace for the nation. Nicaragua rejected the interventionist, biased and politically motivated action by the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that sought to use human rights to intervene in Nicaragua’s domestic affairs.
The malicious questions and comments that had been formulated were based on inputs taken from certain groups, using a script intended to manipulate the reality of Nicaragua, in order to impose on the State the political interests of imperialist countries, and in order to maintain their interventionist position.
Nicaragua recognised women as having a strategic role and the State promoted their empowerment and autonomy in the country. The country had a legal framework which guaranteed the rights of women and would expand on this to restore the rights to women across the country. The Government had implemented a gender policy and would continue to invest in education, health, housing, labour, security and production. Women were being empowered to develop businesses and entrepreneurship training and to have a better impact on political and community spaces.
Nicaragua stood out as the country with the greatest gender equality in Latin America. The National Assembly enjoyed the participation of 47 women as deputies. The Committee needed to take ownership of the responsibility to recognise the rights of women across the world, with no interference. The United Nations was becoming a body dependent on the great powers. Nicaragua required respect for its sovereignty and domestic affairs. The Government would continue to condemn the politicisation of the Committee and the United Nations. This type of action was biased and not conducive to a genuine dialogue. Nicaragua was committed to combatting discrimination against women.
Questions by Committee Experts
BONIFAZ ALFONZO, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur, was concerned at the remarks made by Nicaragua that the Committee worked with biased and partial information. Scant information was available from the State party. The latest elections in Nicaragua had not been recognised as legitimate. The latest constitutional reform had eliminated protection against exploitation and exclusion, and instead had implemented ideas based on Christian values. In 2008, the law on equal rights and opportunities was approved, and a comprehensive law on violence against women entered into force in 2012.
Figures provided by non-governmental organizations indicated that violence against women was on the rise in the country. According to a law, non-governmental organizations should discard any activity to empower Nicaraguan women, saying they were meddling in domestic affairs. There was also the “gag law” which was used to intimidate members of the opposition and women who defended human rights. There was a lack of trust in the Prosecutor’s Office due to lack of independence. What was going to be done so that the independence between the branches of the Government could be guaranteed and so that all victims were able to access justice?
A Committee Expert regretted the behaviour of Nicaragua and recommended the State be expelled from the Convention.
Another Committee Expert said reports indicated that women human rights defenders were under siege in the State party and had been forced to go into exile. With the entry into force of the law on the defence of the rights of people to independence, sovereignty, and self-determination for peace, women’s political participation had been inhibited due to gender-based violence against human rights defenders. In the last four years, the Nicaraguan Initiative of Human Rights Defenders had documented approximately 7,000 aggression cases against women human rights defenders. What steps was the State party taking to provide protection, as well as reparation to victims of aggression? What was being done to investigate attacks against women human rights defenders?
Since 2018, the State party had cancelled the legal status of 432 foundations, stating that these non-governmental organizations did not comply with their legal and statutory obligations. What measures would be adopted to ensure the political participation of women and women’s human rights organizations? What kind of restitution would organizations receive for having been closed down? What actions was the Government taking to stop aggressions against women human rights defenders? How would the political autonomy of women be guaranteed? What steps was Nicaragua taking to comply with the findings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights?
One Committee Expert asked if Nicaragua intended to improve cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms, to step up implementation of the Convention? Could details of the proposed plan regarding violence in the country be provided? Did it cover domestic violence and femicide? Could information about the Nicaraguan Human Rights Office be provided? How would it guarantee the Committee’s recommendations? Civil society in Nicaragua had seen its space restricted, particularly following legislative decrees in 2022 and 2023.
A Committee Expert said for women to benefit from equality, the State party had to conceptualise and adopt a framework for temporary special measures to accelerate the real equality of measures. There also needed to be a mechanism adopted to put these measures in place. What was the legal basis for temporary special measures and what would be the competent body in the country? What temporary special measures could be envisaged for the acceleration of the de facto equality of women? How would these measures be monitored?
One Committee Expert said in Nicaragua, unfortunately, some parts of the Civil Code reinforced and perpetuated stereotypes, including that a father must perform the role of family head. How would the State avoid reinforcing negative stereotypes towards women from its institutions, de jure and de facto? Corporal punishment against children still remained and was considered socially acceptable. Nicaragua had not accepted recommendations to address the rates of femicide from the 2012 Universal Periodic Review; would the State reconsider this position?
Was Nicaragua taking into consideration the Government decrees which called for the release of prisoners, considering that they might be dangerous to women human rights defenders? What guarantees had the State put in place regarding the independence of the judiciary? What were protection orders established for the protection of indigenous women? Violence in the penitentiary system continued to shock the Committee. How was training provided for public defenders in the criminal justice system? How was it ensured there was no impunity for perpetrators?
Another Expert said due to migration, the situation of trafficking of women and girls in Nicaragua had worsened. Nicaraguans who were forcibly displaced or migrated often became victims of sexual trafficking. Nicaraguan migrants who arrived in Costa Rica lived in the street and faced a high risk of being exploited and trafficked. What measures had the Government put in place to reduce human trafficking in the context of migration? What legal measures existed to protect victims of trafficking in Nicaragua? Children were exploited and forced to participate in drug trafficking. What measures were being taken to protect children from illicit forced labour and sex tourism? How would a protection system for victims be developed?
An Expert said in general, there was an undermining of the electoral and political party system in Nicaragua. The reforms to the electoral law had increased women’s participation in public positions but this had been more quantitative than qualitative. Only 17 out of 92 representatives in the National Assembly were women. What measures would the Government take to expand the representation of women? The participation of indigenous women, women of African descent, and lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women, in politics, was limited. What measures would the State take to ensure the political participation of lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women in politics and to protect against hate speech? The Expert echoed the suggestion by another Expert that Nicaragua should be expelled from the Convention.
A Committee Expert said the Nicaraguan Constitution guaranteed the right to criticise the Government and engage in peaceful assembly, yet women human rights defenders, who exercised these rights, faced risking the loss of their nationality. The State party, through legislative amendments, deprived persons of their nationality arbitrarily and in contravention of international human rights law. The situation in the State party raised significant concerns regarding the protection of the nationality rights of women human rights defenders. What steps were being taken to protect the nationality of human rights defenders? How did the Government plan to ensure these women could express their dissenting opinions without facing threats to their nationality?
What steps were being taken to address gender-based violence and trafficking of women and girls in circumstances of statelessness? Alternative reports asserted that 316 women were deprived of their Nicaraguan nationality and accused of treason, rendering them stateless. What actions would be taken to restore the nationality of the women harmed by these actions? Would Nicaragua commit to complying with its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons to prevent such actions from occurring?
Another Expert said Nicaragua had made achievements in special education, the school meals programme, and university grants. However, four out of ten Nicaraguan children were not enrolled in education. How did the State assist mothers with several children, who tended to prioritise the education of boys over girls? How was the State ensuring the reintegration of girls after giving birth? What was the reintegration rate? When would Nicaragua amend the general education law to provide explicitly for comprehensive sexuality education? Who was responsible for enforcing the law which mandated the elimination of stereotypes in the education system? How was the Government addressing the digital gap in rural and urban areas? What measures were being taken to combat violence against girls in schools? What would be done to improve school infrastructure and motivate professionalism amongst teachers? Was a programme in place to operate intercultural and bilingual education in the Nicaraguan Caribbean coast?
BONIFAZ ALFONZO, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur, said poverty meant adolescent girls needed to work to help provide for their families. Could updated data be provided on the number of girls that were working? What was being done to root out child labour? Women were often paid less when conducting the same functions as men. Had there been any achievements in reducing the inequality gap? Had any punishment been metered out to those who failed to comply? What was being done to combat violence in the workplace? What measures were being taken to ensure better conditions in the textile machinery industry? What protection measures existed for female workers? Over 40 per cent of women worked in unpaid care; what was being done to include women in the formal economy?
A Committee Expert said the Constitution of Nicaragua established the State’s duty to provide health services, including to vulnerable sectors of the population. However, there was a gap between the law and reality. In general, a lack of sufficient accessible health services impacted most women in Nicaragua, and in particular, those in the North Caribbean region, due to the high prevalence of malaria and dengue fever, an increasing trend of HIV/AIDS, and high transport costs, among others. What would the State party do to improve health coverage for women, especially those mainly from indigenous and Afro-descendant groups? How could the increasing HIV/AIDS trend be reverted? What measures could the State party take to ensure accurate registration of maternal mortality?
Nicaragua had the second highest adolescent fertility level in Latin America; a quarter of all adolescents aged 15-19 had been pregnant, and hundreds of pregnancies a year were of girls younger than 15. What measures would the State party take to reduce the pregnancy rate of girls and adolescents? Another extremely concerning problem in the State party was access to abortion: girls, adolescents, and adult women in the Nicaragua were forced to give birth, against their will, because Nicaragua totally criminalised abortion. Did the State intend to change the legislation on abortion and at least allow access to abortion in the cases of minors, sexual violence, and when the health and life of the woman was at risk?
Another Expert said access to credit for women was extremely limited in Nicaragua. What specific measures was the State party taking to implement laws and policies aimed at promoting women’s economic empowerment, to increase access to credit and loans for all women? What steps had the Government taken to ensure an environment free of violence and abuse in all sports? What legal redress had the State party offered to women and girls who had been subjected to abuse in sports?
A Committee Expert said Nicaragua had one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world and the State had not yet signed the Paris Agreement on climate change. How would the State party urgently address the rapid deforestation, illegal logging and cattle farming on indigenous lands? What measures existed to protect indigenous women and girls from the attacks on their lives? Did the State party plan to sign the Paris Agreement? Since 2018, following the social uprising, many indigenous families had sought international protection abroad. How was the consent of indigenous women and girls ensured in extractive projects? How could indigenous and Afro-descendent women get redress in cases of racial discrimination? More than 350 women had been political prisoners since 2018. What mechanisms existed to protect the rights of lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women within the prison system?
BONIFAZ ALFONZO, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur, said migrant women should also be included among Nicaragua’s disadvantaged groups. What kind of care was provided to migrant women?Another Expert called on Nicaragua to ensure the provision of specialised health services for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women. The issue of women and girls with disabilities was also one of concern, and there was little information available on facilities or any special arrangements made for this group.
A Committee Expert said Nicaragua had adopted its first Family Code, which included promoted shared responsibility, and recognised the rights of all individuals to form a family, among other measures. However, this was limited to recognition of the hetero-normative family, reaffirmed sexist roles and stereotypes, and excluded same sex couples. What steps were being taken to ensure the recognition of rights in the family sphere of lesbian, bisexual and trans women? What protection did the State party provide to move towards the prohibition of marriage to minors, without exception? Did judicial facilitators receive training on gender issues? What had been done to prevent instances of re-victimisation?
ANA PELÁEZ NARVÁEZ, Committee Chairperson, reiterated her rejection of the statement of the Permanent Representative of Nicaragua, which undermined the impartiality of the Committee members. The doors remained open for dialogue with Nicaragua.