Prohibition of all corporal punishment in Nicaragua (2014)
When Nicaragua’s human rights record was examined in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in 2010, the issue of corporal punishment of children was raised and recommendations made to prohibit it in all circumstances. The same thing happened in the second UPR of Nicaragua in 2014. On both occasions the Government accepted the recommendations, signalling its commitment to prohibition of all corporal punishment.
In 2012, the “right to disciplinary punishment” of children was removed from the Penal Code 2008 by Law No. 779 Comprehensive Law against Violence against Women and Reforming Law No. 641 Penal Code 2012. Article 155 of the Penal Code as amended prohibits domestic violence and states (unofficial translation):
Whoever carries any force, violence or physical or psychological intimidation against a person who is a spouse or partner in a stable union or is linked by a stable affective relationship, children, adolescents, older persons, persons with disabilities, the daughters and sons own spouse, partner or ascendants, descendants, collateral relatives by blood, marriage, adoption, or under guardianship. For children and adolescents, the right to disciplinary correction may not be claimed. Those responsible for this crime will be imposed the following penalties:
(a) minor injuries, the penalty shall be one to two years in prison;
(b) serious injury, the penalty is three to seven years in prison;
(c) very serious injury, the penalty is five to twelve years in prison.
In addition to the prison terms outlined above, the perpetrators of domestic violence, will be imposed disqualification for the same period of the rights arising from the relationship between mother, father and children, or the person under guardianship.”
The linking of punishment with injury was considered to show a lack of clarity as to whether or not all physical punishment of children was unlawful. It was considered that further reform was necessary in order to achieve clarity that no form of corporal punishment is lawful.
In 2014, the National Assembly of Nicaragua approved the new Family Code 2014, which was published in the Official Gazette on 8 October 2014. Article 280 states (unofficial translation):
“The father, mother, or other family members, guardians or other persons legally responsible for the son or daughter have the responsibility, the right and duty to provide, consistent with the child’s evolving capacities, appropriate direction and guidance to the child, without putting at risk his or her health, physical integrity, psychological and personal dignity and under no circumstances using physical punishment or any type of humiliating treatment as a form of correction or discipline.
The Ministry of Family, Youth and Children, in coordination with other state institutions and society shall promote forms of positive, participatory and non-violent discipline as alternatives to physical punishment and other forms of humiliating discipline.”
The Code comes into force in April 2015.
In addition, on 14 November 2014 – following sustained advocacy by the Group for Good Treatment, coordinated by the Ombudsperson for Children – the Ministry of Family, Adolescents and Children issued Resolution No. 244/2014 confirming prohibition of all corporal punishment in all protection centres for children.