Cablegate: Nicarargua: Trafficking in Persons Report 2010


DE RUEHMU #0228/01 0482057
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY AD250005 TOQ8639-695)
R 172054Z FEB 10



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Nicarargua: Trafficking in Persons Report 2010


1. (U) Following is Embassy Managua's 2010 Trafficking in Persons
(TIP) report. The information is keyed to reftel paragraphs 25-30.

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2. (SBU) Nicaragua's TIP Situation (reftel para 25)
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A. (SBU) There is no central source of information regarding
trafficking in persons in Nicaragua. The police, Public Ministry,
and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided figures on the cases
they managed, but these did not coincide with each other. Other
government institutions do not compile any data on trafficking. In
the past, the National Coalition Against Trafficking in Person
(NCATIP) has not compiled statistics nor any other form of
documentation. This year our request to meet with the NCATIP went
unanswered. International organizations and NGOs manage some
statistics on TIP in Nicaragua, but their efforts are limited to
their scope of work and are not comprehensive assessments of the
problem in country.

B. (SBU) Despite the lack of reliable data on trafficking, the
International Organization for Migration (IOM) noted an increase in
migration within Nicaragua with a likelihood that trafficking is
also increasing. Nicaragua was principally a country of origin for
the international trafficking of minor and adult females for
purposes of sexual exploitation. Most victims were trafficked to
other Central American countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras,
and Costa Rica), but were also trafficked to the United States,
Mexico, and other countries. To a lesser extent, Nicaragua is a
country of transit for international trafficking and has seen
victims from Africa and East Asia. Trafficking also occurs within
Nicaragua, with most victims being minor and adolescent females who
are sexually exploited. Most victims are brought from the
countryside to departmental capitals or from throughout the country
to Managua.

C. (SBU) Victims are generally trafficked for the purposes of
sexual exploitation, particularly for prostitution. Traffickers
tend to force the victims to work in brothels, nightclubs, and
other similar establishments. Victims are also exploited for labor
and there have been reports of victims being used for

D. (SBU) The main group at risk for trafficking are minor and
adult females from poor, rural areas who were previously victims of
domestic abuse and/or sexual violence. Most victims ranged in age
from 13 to 25, but there were victims as young as 8 and some were
45 years old.

E. (SBU) Traffickers/exploiters varied from organized crime rings
to family and individual operations, which included male and female
recruiters. A common method of recruiting victims was by promising
a "good" job opportunity with a high salary. The victims were
generally approached by a known and somewhat trusted individual,
who would promise employment such as a chambermaid or store
attendant. At times recruiters used victims to recruit other
victims. Traffickers transported victims openly through border
checkpoints. One common method was placing victims on a bus as a
tourist to travel to a neighboring country. They also trafficked
victims illegally through blind spots along the unpatrolled land
and maritime borders. Travel agencies and similar businesses have
been involved in fronting for traffickers.

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3. (SBU) The GoN's Anti-TIP Efforts (reftel para 26)
--------------------------------------------- ---------

A. (SBU) The government has an office responsible for combating
trafficking in persons. The government's efforts to investigate
and prosecute TIP cases had minimal success. Its assistance to
victims was minimal with international organizations and
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing the great majority
of assistance. These organizations also heavily supported the
prevention work in Nicaragua.

B. (SBU) The National Coalition Against Trafficking in Persons
(NCATIP), which falls under the Ministry of Government, is the lead
government office responsible for coordinating anti-trafficking
efforts. Post's request for a meeting with the NCATIP went
unanswered. The principal agencies within the NCATIP are the
Nicaraguan National Police, Public Ministry (Prosecutor's Office),
and the Ministry of the Family, and in the past has included up to
85 different government agencies and organizations. We met with
the Public Ministry, the police provided written responses to our
questions, and the Ministry of the Family would not meet with us.
For the previous TIP report, all these agencies met with us.
International organizations and NGOs also participate in the

C. (SBU) The NCATIP's continuing lack of leadership and
coordination has prevented a comprehensive approach to combating
trafficking in Nicaragua. NGOs and some state offices continued
to complain of NCATIP's lack of performance and questioned its
commitment. The NGO Save the Children paid a consultant to work
with the NCATIP to develop a 2010-2012 strategic plan to combat
trafficking. Coalition officials, however, would not provide the
details of the plan. Lack of resources, a generalized disrespect
for the rule of law, and increased corruption in the judiciary
continue to be key limitations to the government's ability to
address the problem. This year international organizations and
NGOs reported a decrease in police efforts and/or cooperation to
combat trafficking. They also noted the constant change of
personnel in the Ministry of the Family (the principal agency
responsible for victim assistance) as an obstacle to providing
assistance to the victims. Culture and class prejudices present
another obstacle. Sexual exploitation and abuse of women and
children is widely accepted in Nicaragua, impeding the ability to
detect trafficking in persons. Victims of trafficking and sexual
exploitation tend to feel shame and guilt, and thus are reluctant
to file complaints with the authorities.

D. (SBU) The government does not systematically monitor its
anti-trafficking efforts. The NCATIP did not assess the results of
its last plan which concluded in 2007.

E. (SBU) In coordination with various international organizations
(Save the Children, UNICEF, etc.), the government has attempted to
promote birth registration. The ability of Nicaraguans to obtain
national identification cards, however, has been problematic as the
IDs also are used as voter registration cards and the institution
responsible for the cards has become heavily politicized. There
also have been reports of false IDs being issued to minors for the
purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.

F. (SBU) The government does not have the ability to gather the
required data for an in-depth assessment of law enforcement
efforts. With the support of international organizations, the
government might have the capability to conduct this assessment.

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4. (SBU) Investigation & Prosecution (reftel para 27)
--------------------------------------------- ------------

A. (SBU) Nicaragua's current penal code entered into force in July
2008. This code criminalizes both domestic and international
trafficking for purposes of slavery, sexual exploitation, or
adoption. The language of the TIP provision follows:

- Article 182. Trafficking in Persons for the Purpose of Slavery,
Sexual Exploitation, or Adoption. Whoever, using force or
violence/threats, offers, deceives, promotes, facilitates, induces
or attracts, recruits, contracts, transports, transfers, retains,
takes in, or receives people, with the purpose of slavery, sexual
exploitation, or adoption, inside or outside national territory,
even with the consent of the victim, shall be penalized with the
sentence of between seven to 10 years prison. If the victim is
younger than 18 years of age, or disabled, or the act was committed
by a relative, guardian, spiritual guide, mentor, or an individual
permanently sharing the family home of the victim, or has a
relationship of trust with the victim, the penalty will be between
10 and 12 years prison.

Whoever sells, offers, delivers, transfers or accepts a girl, boy
or adolescent for the purpose of sexual exploitation, regardless of
whether a payment or reward was made, will be penalized with
between eight to 12 years of prison. The same penalty will be
applied to anyone who offers, possesses, acquires, or accepts the
sale of a girl, boy, or adolescent with the purpose of illegitimate

A. (SBU) Continued. The penal code contains various other
articles related to trafficking in persons. These include:

- Article 174. Sexual Harassment. Any individual who uses
pressure, a position of power or authority, promises of
preferential treatment, threats, or any other form of sexual
harassment to coerce another person to engage in sexual acts can be
found guilty of sexual harassment and sentenced to one to three
years of prison. If the victim is younger than 18 years of age,
the penalty ranges from three to five years of prison.

- Article 175. Sexual Exploitation, Pornography, and Paid Sexual
Acts with Minors. Any individual found guilty of inducing,
facilitating, promoting, or using a minor under the age of 16 or a
disabled person for sexual or erotic purposes, or who forces such
individual to watch or participate in such an act, will be punished
with five to seven years of prison. If the victim is over the age
of 16, but younger than 18, the penalty will be four to six years

Those who promote, finance, make, reproduce, publish, sell, import,
export, or distribute material for the purpose of sexual
exploitation involving the image or voice of a person under the age
of 18 engaged in a sexual or erotic activity will be considered in
violation of the law. The penalty for this crime will be five to
seven years of prison and a fine to be paid for 150 to 500 days.

Those who, for the purpose of sexual exploitation, own pornographic
or erotic material in the terms expressed in the previous
paragraph, will be punished with one to two years of prison.
Those who carry out sexual or erotic acts with a person between the
ages of 14 and 18, of any gender, in exchange for payment or
promise of any economic benefit, will be punished with five to
seven years of prison.

- Article 176. Aggravating Circumstances of Sexual Exploitation,
Pornography, and Paid Sexual Acts with Minors. The penalty will be
six to eight years of prison when the crime is: committed with the
intent of profit; the author or authors are part of a group
organized to commit sexual crimes; involves deception, violence,
abuse of authority, intimidation, or coercion; the author commits
the crime using a relationship of authority, superiority, family,
dependency, or trust with the victim, or permanently shares the
home with the victim. If two or more of these circumstances
concur, the penalty will increase to seven to nine years of prison.

- Article 177. Sexual Tourism. Those who promote the country as a
destination for sexual tourism, individually or through tour
operators, advertising campaigns, reproduction of images and texts
utilizing persons younger than 18 years of age, will be punished
with five to seven years of prison and a fine, equivalent to 33
percent of the condemned's daily wages or the standard minimum
wage, to be paid for a period of 150 to 500 days.

- Article 178. Procurement of Prostitution. Those who induce,
promote, facilitate or favor sexual exploitation, pornography, and
the paid sexual act of a person of any gender, or are involved in
the recruitment for said purpose, will be punished with four to six
years of prison and a fine, equivalent to 33 percent of the
condemned's daily wages or the standard minimum wage, to be paid
for a period of 150 to 300 days.

- Article 179. Aggravated Procurement of Prostitution. The
penalty will be between six and eight years of prison and a fine,
equivalent to 33 percent of the condemned's daily wages or the
standard minimum wage, to be paid for a period of 300 to 600 days,
when: (a) the victim is younger than 18 years old or is disabled;
(b) there is intent of profit; (c) there is involvement of deceit,
violence, abuse of authorities or through any means of intimidation
or coercion; (d) the author commits the crime taking advantage of a
relationship of superiority, authority, family ties, dependency or
trust with the victim, or permanently shares a family home with the

- Article 180. Inducement of Prostitution (Pimping). Whoever by
means of threat or coercion, receives economic commercial benefit,
even if in part, from a person who provides sex acts through
payment, will be penalized with between three and five years
prison. If the victim is younger than 18 years old or is
physically or mentally disabled, the penalty will be between five
and seven years of prison. The same penalty will be applied when
the author of the crime is either married to or in a common-law
relationship with the victim

- Article 181. Restriction of Mediation and Other Benefits. When
the crime of sexual exploitation is committed against boys, girls,
and adolescents, there will be no mediation process nor any benefit
of suspension of the penalty.

B. (SBU) As mentioned in paragraph A, the penalty for trafficking
people for sexual exploitation is seven to ten years imprisonment.
If the victim is 18 years or younger or disabled or the act was
executed by a family member of the victim the sentence is 10 to 12
years prison. When the act involves payment or reward for sexual
exploitation, the penalty is eight to 12 years prison. Fines are
set by the courts.

C. (SBU) Trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation is
prosecuted under article 315 of the penal code. The language of
this provision follows:

- Article 315. Discrimination, Servitude, and Exploitation.
Whoever discriminates at the workplace for reasons of birth,
nationality, political affiliation, race, ethnic origin, sexual
orientation, gender, religion, opinion, economic position,
disability, physical condition, or any other social condition shall
be penalized with six months to one year prison and 90 to 150 days
fine. Whoever submits, reduces, or maintains another person under
slavery or similar conditions to slavery, forced or obligatory
labor, servitude, or any other situation that impacts against human
dignity, while in labor activity, will be punished with five to
eight years prison.

A sentence of five to eight years prison and a fine will be imposed
to those who traffic persons with the purpose of subjecting them to
labor exploitation, as well as for forced recruitment to
participate in armed conflicts.

The penalty for the crimes mentioned in the previous paragraphs
will be increased by half the maximum limit for the crime
concerned, when these are committed: (a) against children, or (b)
by means of violence or intimidation. If both circumstances
concur, the penalty will be increased by three fourths the maximum
limit of the crime concerned. Excluding those cases authorized by
law, whoever employs a person younger than 18 years old for the
purpose of labor exploitation will be sanctioned with two to four
years prison.

D. (SBU) Articles 167, 168, 169, and 170 of the penal code
proscribe the penalties for various forms of rape and sexual
assault. The text of these provisions follows:

- Article 167. Rape. Whoever has access or is made to have access
or enters inside the victim or forces the victim to introduce a
finger, object, or instrument for sexual purposes, vaginally,
anally, or orally using force, violence, intimidation, or any other
means that prevent the victim from using his/her will, reason or
senses, will be penalized with eight to 12 years imprisonment.

- Article 168. Rape of a Minor Younger than 14. Whoever has access
or is made to have access with or by a person younger than 14 years
of age or who for sexual purposes introduces or forces to introduce
a finger, object, or instrument vaginally, anally, or orally with
or without the victim's consent will be penalized with 12 to 15
years imprisonment.

- Article 169. Aggravated Rape. A sanction of 12 to 15 years
imprisonment will be imposed when: (a) the author commits the crime
availing him/herself of a relationship of superiority, authority,
family relationship, dependency, or trust with the victim, or one
in which the family home of the victim is shared permanently; (b)
the rape is committed with the assistance of two or more people;
(c) when the victim by reason of sickness or physical or
psychological disability is especially vulnerable to resist, or is
pregnant or is older than 65 years of age; or (d) it results in
grave harm to the health of the victim. If two or more of the
circumstances mentioned in this article should concur, the maximum
penalty will be imposed.

- Article 170. Rape of a Minor. Whoever while married or in a
stable relationship or an adult, without violence or intimidation,
enters or forces someone to enter the body by a person older than
14 years of age and younger than 16 will be sanctioned with a
penalty of two to four years in prison.

E. (SBU) Law Enforcement Statistics: The Nicaraguan National
Police reported a total of nine cases of trafficking in persons,
which included 14 offenders and 10 victims for the reporting
period. The Public Ministry also reported a total of nine cases,
but the cases did not coincide between the two agencies. The
Public Ministry reported five cases dismissed for lack of evidence
or other reasons, one case under further investigation, and three
cases in which charges were formally filed. There were two
convictions of trafficking for sexual exploitation - an Italian man
and Nicaraguan woman were sentenced to 12 years in prison. The man
is currently on house arrest pending his appeal.

F. (SBU) International organizations and NGOs supported the
training of the police and Public Ministry. Save the Children, the
International Organization for Migration (IOM), and Casa Alianza
(Covenant House) provided funding and logistical assistance to the
Public Ministry, police and immigration for the training of its
officials in Managua and the various departments. Save the
Children continues to work with the police on its mapping projects
on the routes used for trafficking.

G. (SBU) The Public Ministry does cooperate with other countries'
institutions in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking
cases. In 2009, the prosecutor's office coordinated two cases with
other Central American countries. The police did not provide
information regarding cases requiring cooperation with other
countries' authorities.

H. (SBU) Nicaraguan law does not permit the extradition of
Nicaraguan nationals. During the reporting period there were no
cases of the government extraditing foreigners for trafficking.

I. (SBU) There is no evidence of government officials' involvement
in trafficking. However, international and local organizations
that provided victims assistance complained that local law
enforcement authorities (i.e., police, immigration, etc.) were
involved in or tolerated trafficking and other crimes (e.g.,
migrant smuggling). Media reported the court case of a man accused
of sexual exploitation of minors in Rivas and reported a Managua
judge listed in the case as one of the abusers. Authorities could
not confirm if the judge was being investigated.

J. (SBU) The state has not prosecuted any government officials for
trafficking in persons, nor has the police investigated any
government officials for TIP.

L. (SBU) There is little information available regarding child sex
tourism in Nicaragua, but government officials and NGOs believe it
is on the rise. One government official stated that Managua saw
the most cases of this type of sexual exploitation. Child sex
tourists come from the United States, Europe, and Canada to San
Juan del Sur, Tola, Granada, Corinto, and Leon. Additionally,
businessmen from other countries are known to seek minors for
sexual exploitation during their business travel to cities such as
Managua and Esteli. The government does not track pedophile cases
by nationality, but post is aware of two cases being prosecuted
involving United States citizens. Article 16 of the criminal code
allows the government to prosecute Nicaraguans for child sex
tourism crimes abroad, but there were no cases during the reporting

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5. Protection & Assistance to Victims (reftel para 28)
--------------------------------------------- -------------------

A. (SBU) The government uses the Code for the Protection of
Children and Adolescents to protect and assist children and
adolescent victims of trafficking. In practice, NGOs provided most
of the assistance (e.g., shelter) to victims. There is no existing
law that provides for the government's assistance to adults and

B. (SBU) The Ministry of the Family is responsible for providing
victim care facilities to children (people 17 years old and
younger). In practice, the departments most affected by
trafficking did not have adequate care facilities. There were no
shelters in Chinandega. Rio San Juan, Esteli, and Rivas each had
one shelter funded and operated by an NGO. Rivas also had one
government-run care facility that took in all people in need of
temporary shelter, not just trafficking victims. There were no
government-run shelters available for women or men, nor were there
any government-run shelters specifically for trafficking victims
regardless of age or gender. As noted in the interim TIP
assessment, media reported that the government underfunded the
children's public shelters. The government does not provide
funding to private care facilities. There was no overall
coordinated program to provide integral attention and integration
of victims. The Police Commissariat for Women provided some
psychological assistance to female trafficking victims. There are
few foreign victims in Nicaragua, but these victims receive the
same attention as nationals.

C. (SBU) The Public Ministry provides legal services to
trafficking victims. People who stay at government shelters
receive medical and psychological services from government sources.
The Ministry of the Family, which is responsible for these
shelters, would not meet with us. Victims who stayed at private
shelters usually received psychological and medical assistance from
the private organization. In general, the government does not
provide funding or support to NGOs that provide victims'
assistance. However, there are limited examples of the GON
providing some support to NGOs such as office space to
psychologists in the Department of Chinandega.

D. (SBU) Foreign trafficking victims comprise a small percentage
of the victims in Nicaragua. However, in these cases government
authorities do allow the victims to stay in Nicaragua until they
can be repatriated to their country of origin. International
organizations noted the cooperation with immigration officials and
the victims' embassies to repatriate the victims. As with all
trafficking cases, in most cases international organizations and
NGOs provide the assistance. Most foreign trafficking victims in
Nicaragua come from other Central American countries.

E. (SBU) In the previous reporting period, the Ministry of the
Family told us it could provide longer-term shelter through foster
homes and other programs to child and adolescent victims, but there
were no programs for adult victims. Local NGOs told us that these
foster homes did not adequately assist the victims. The Ministry
would not meet with us this year to provide more information.

F. (SBU) The police refer victims to the Ministry of the Family or
NGOs for victim assistance. The police will also transfer the
victims to these locations.

G. (SBU) There were no reliable statistics to identify the number
of trafficking victims during the reporting period. The Ministry
of the Family has not traditionally managed these statistics. The
police and Public Ministry reported nine trafficking cases
involving 10 victims for the reporting period, but the two agencies
did not coincide in their data. In the past, an independent think
tank on security matters, the Institute for Strategic Studies and
Public Policy (IEEPP), estimated police figures captured no more
than 10% of actual cases. No other government institution collects
or provides data on trafficking victims.

H. (SBU) The government does not have a formal system of
proactively identifying victims of trafficking among high-risk
persons with whom they come in contact. Most victims assisted in
Nicaragua are Nicaraguans who returned from abroad.

I. (SBU) The government in general respected the rights of
victims. Authorities might temporarily detain victims for
questioning, but they are not arrested.

J. (SBU) The government encourages victims to assist in the
prosecution of traffickers, but given the stigmatization of
trafficking and sexual exploitation, victims are reluctant to
participate in the prosecution. Trafficking victims can sue their
offenders and can receive restitution.

K. (SBU) Several organizations (Casa Alianza, IOM, Save the
Children, etc.) provided training to a variety of state
institutions, including the police, the Public Ministry, and the
Ministry of the Family. However, international organizations and
NGOs reported difficulties in working with the Ministry of the
Family due to the constant changes in personnel. During the
reporting period, the Ministry saw three different ministers, each
bringing their own staff to work on issues of child sexual
exploitation and trafficking in persons. These changes occurred in
Managua and the field offices. International organizations and
NGOs reported that these constant changes led to difficulties in
training the Ministry's personnel, defining the Ministry's roles
and responsibilities on the issue of trafficking, and the ability
to work on a time horizon past three months. The Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, with the assistance of international
organizations, continued training Nicaragua's diplomatic and
consular personnel on handling trafficking cases. During the
reporting period, the Ministry assisted in the repatriation of
eight victims from El Salvador and Guatemala, and another 22
possible victims of trafficking from Guatemala. The Nicaraguan
missions abroad assisted the victims with food, medical care,
psychological counseling, shelter, travel documents, and other

L. (SBU) As part of the country's free healthcare system,
trafficking victims can receive medical treatment on the same basis
as any other patient in the general population. Shelter and other
assistance are usually provided by NGOs.

M. (SBU) MAIS, Casa Alianza, and IOM are the principal
international organizations that work with trafficking victims.
Their work includes: shelter, psychological counseling, legal
assistance, referrals, accompaniment through government procedures,
etc. The government does not provide funding for these
organizations. Cooperation between the organizations and the
government tends to be better at the operational level than at the
policy level. Additionally, cooperation is better at the local
level than at the national level. Save the Children works in the
areas of prevention and investigation/prosecution of trafficking in

6. (SBU) Prevention (reftel para 29)

A. (SBU) The government did not conduct an information campaign
during the reporting period. Organizations such as Save the
Children, IOM, Casa Alianza, and others conducted information
campaigns in which the government participated. Save the Children
worked with the Ministry of Education to provide information on
trafficking to students and teachers. The Ministry of the Familly
reactivated its 133 hotline, but only for information and reporting
on the general welfare of adolescents and minors, and not just for
trafficking in persons.

B. (SBU) The government, with the assistance of Save the Children,
has developed several mapping projects along the southern and
northern borders of Nicaragua, which have been used especially by
the police. However, there was no indication that immigration
officials screened for potential trafficking victims at the
borders. Local organizations in the northern and southern border
of Nicaragua suspected some trafficking occurred with the knowledge
or involvement of government officials, including immigration

C. (SBU) The National Coalition Against Trafficking in Persons
(NCATIP) is the government office responsible for coordinating the
efforts of government institutions, international organizations,
and NGOs in combating tr

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