Number and location of women's police stations; their effectiveness in addressing violence against women (Update to NIC34186.E of 11 April 2000) [NIC41906.E]

An August 2002 report stated that, at the moment, 13 women's and children's police stations (Comisarías de la Mujer y la Niñez) were operating in 11 departments of Nicaragua with a total staff of 53 women and 10 men (Cordero, Aug. 2002, 11). Five other such police stations were being established at the time, through German cooperative financing, in three districts of Managua and two departments (ibid.). The women's police stations' main goal is reported to be the provision of specialized handling of sexual and domestic violence cases; they are credited with providing a "human touch" (calidad humana) to police treatment of persons requesting assistance (ibid.).

A September 2002 article reports the opening of a new women's police station at Puerto Cabezas, in the Northern Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAA), through funding cooperation agreement between the Nicaraguan police and a German agency (El Nuevo Diario 24 Sept. 2002). More recently, La Prensa reported the 30 January 2003 inauguration of two women's police stations in Managua, taking to four the number of such stations in the capital, as part of the government's plan to have 18 stations nationwide (31 Jan. 2003). The report states that although the inaugurations took place in January 2003, at least one of the stations (District IV) began operating in the last days of December 2002 (ibid.).

The most recent edition of Country Reports, covering events through 2002, refers briefly to the women's police stations as follows:

The police manage 13 women's commissariats in 13 cities with a total staff of 75 people. Each commissariat is located adjacent to a police station and is supposed to be staffed by six police officers, two social workers, one psychologist, and one lawyer. However, due to a lack of funding, the staff size is often limited to a far smaller number. The commissariats provide both social and legal help to women and mediate spousal conflicts (31 Mar. 2003, Sec. 5).

An April 2001 article refers to a three-year program started in 2001, which aims at coordinating the efforts of the police, government institutions and non-governmental organizations to reduce violence against women and address service shortcomings at women's police stations (Nicaragua 27 Apr. 2001).

A cooperation program for improving services at 13 women's police stations in Nicaragua, involving Swedish and other European funding agencies, will run from 2001 through 2004 (Sweden 2003). The stations receiving this support are at Chinandega, Leon, Managua (District V), Ciudad Sandino, Tipitapa, Masaya, Estelí, Matagalpa, Jinotega, Ocotal, Boaco, Chontales and Bluefields (ibid.). The program includes technology transfer to better equip the stations, and negotiations with the Nicaraguan government to ensure the stations' sustained funding (ibid.).

One news article indicates that the women's police station of Managua's District I received the most reports, of all women's police stations of Nicaragua in the first quarter of 2002 (El Nuevo Diario 13 June 2002). The report refers to a network of 38 centres across Nicaragua, formed by non-government and state support agencies, as well as the women's police stations, which in 2001 provided legal and psychological counselling to 12,760 victims of sexual and/or domestic violence; of these, 6,284 were received at the women's police stations (ibid.).

An editorial article on violence against women published on 6 December 2002 by El Nuevo Diario refers to women's police stations, stating that these have become mostly "complaints departments" (Departamento de Quejas) where requests for justice are not paid much attention. The article adds that this situation is due, at least in part, to the fact that when a husband is jailed, often the wife will demand his release, weakening any future complaint (El Nuevo Diario 6 Dec. 2002).

A November 2001 report states that a new phase in the development of the women's police stations involves training courses for the judiciary to raise awareness of sexual and domestic violence, although interest and participation in such courses by the highest-level justices has been low (Nicaragua 30 Nov. 2001). The report also states that doctors of the Ministry of Health (MINSA) had requested training on legal aspects of forensic medicine, their concern being that cases prepared by women's police stations which make their way to the courts fall apart because of legal shortcomings in their medical reports (ibid.).

Country Reports 2002 refers to handling of domestic violence cases, stating that

the National Police, as well as local human rights groups, confirmed that while police sometimes intervene to prevent domestic violence, they rarely prosecuted perpetrators because victims often refused to press charges. Those cases that actually reached the courts usually resulted in not guilty verdicts due to judicial inexperience with, and lack of legal training related to, proper judicial handling of such violence (31 Mar. 2003, Sec. 5).

A March 2002 article reports on the concerns expressed by women's groups regarding the implementation of reforms to the Nicaraguan Penal Code: these reforms reportedly eliminated protection measures for victims of domestic violence that were provided by previous legislation (Law 230), and the Penal Code's chapter on serious and very serious injuries does not contain a reference to psychological injuries (El Nuevo Diario 7 Mar. 2002).

A report published by El Nuevo Diario on 7 January 2003 states that at least 38 women were killed by their partners or former partners in 2002, adding that most of those deaths were preceded by sexual abuse and domestic violence. The report adds that the women's police stations received approximately 7,000 reports of domestic violence nationwide, although it is estimated that possibly 80 per cent of victims do not report abuses because of fear or because they are economically dependent on their spouses (ibid.). The report adds that one of the main concerns of the Women's Network against Violence (Red de Mujeres contra la Violencia) in 2002 has been the release of victimizers by corrupt or insensitive police officers and judges (ibid.). However, the report does not specify if any such releases took place at women's police stations.

The article reporting on the 2003 inauguration of two women's police stations in Managua (cited earlier), refers to one of the stations having received complaints from two men soon after opening (La Prensa 31 Jan. 2003). The article states that the cases, described as relatively unusual, relate to wives who have used and abused their children as a way to pressure and affect their husbands (ibid.). The female chief of the police station reported that the wives showed a similar pattern of behaviour as that seen in men who are responsible for domestic violence, including claims of being the victims themselves or of not starting the problem, a turn to violence, and a tendency to treat the female police officers with sarcasm and derision (ibid.). In its first days of operation, the same station received about five reports of domestic violence involving injuries, and approximately five women who approached the station to seek guidance in relocating with relatives (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References


Cordero, Edwin. August 2002. "Incorporación del enfoque de género en la modernización de la Policía Nacional de Nicaragua." Paper presented at the Conferencia Centroamericana y del Caribe3/4Reducción de la Pobreza, Gobernabilidad Democrática y Equidad de Género," Managua, 28-30 August 2002. http://www.gtzgenero.org.ni/docs/4_3_4.pdf [Accessed 25 Aug. 2003]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002. 31 March 2003. United States Department of Staet. Washington, DC. http:''www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18339.htm [Accessed 12 Aug. 2003]

El Nuevo Diario [Managua]. 7 January 2003. Valeria Imhof. "Mal año para las mujeres." http://www-ni.elnuevodiario.com.ni/archivo/2003/enero/07-enero-2003/nacional/nacional12.html [Accessed 12 Aug. 2003]

_____. 6 December 2002. Francisco Bravo Lacayo. "El culto a la virgen y el maltrato a la mujer." http://www-ni.elnuevodiario.com.ni/archivo/2002/diciembre/06-diciembre-2002/opinion/opinion2.html [Accessed 12 Aug. 2003]

_____. 24 September 2002. "Abren Comisaría de la Mujer en Puerto Cabezas." http://www-ni.elnuevodiario.com.ni/archivo/2002/septiembre/24-septiembre-2002/sucesos/sucesos5.html [Accessed 12 Aug. 2003]

_____. 13 June 2002. Rafael Lara. "Hogares más violentos están en Managua." http://www-ni.elnuevodiario.com.ni/archivo/2002/junio/13-junio-2002/departamentos/departamentos6.html [Accessed 12 Aug. 2003]

_____. 7 March 2002. Rafael Lara. "Mujeres cuestionan nuevo Código Penal." http://www-ni.elnuevodiario.com.ni/archivo/2002/marzo/07-marzo-2002/nacional/nacional12.html [Accessed 12 Aug. 2003]

La Prensa [Managua]. 31 January 2003. Elízabeth Romero. "Hombres víctimas de sus mujeres." http://www-ni.laprensa.com.ni/archivo/2003/enero/31/sucesos/sucesos-20030131-04.html [Accessed 25 Aug. 2003]

Nicaragua, National Institute of Women (INIM). 30 November 2001. Bolsa de Noticias. Mario A. Zelaya. "Ronda Judicial." http://www.grupoese.com.ni/2001bn/11/30/mzMN1130.htm [Accessed 12 Aug. 2003]

_____. 27 April 2001. Bolsa de Noticias. Amalia Frech. "INIM aportando al desarrollo integral de la mujer." http://www.grupoese.com.ni/2001/bn/04/27/op2MN0427.htm [Accessed 12 Aug. 2003]

Sweden. 2003. Embassy of Sweden in Managua. "II Fase de Comisarías de la mujer yla Niñez: Red de Servicios de Atención a la Violencia Intrafamiliar y Sexual a las Mujeres, Niñez y adolescentes." Programa de Democracia, Gobernabilidad y Derechos Humanos. http://www.suecia.org.ni/pages/desarrollo/Democracia/estado_derecho.htm [Accessed 12 Aug. 2003]