Nicaragua

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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Nicaragua

Article 60 of Nicaragua’s constitution reads:

“Nicaraguans have the right to live in a healthy environment, as well as the obligation to maintain and preserve it. The supreme and universal common good, and a precondition for all other goods, is mother earth; she must be loved, cared for, and regenerated. The common good of the earth and of humanity requires us to understand the earth as a living entity and subject of dignity. She belongs to the community of all which inhabit her and to the totality of the ecosystems.Earth forms together with humanity a unique complex identity; she lives and acts as a unique self-regulated system made up of physical, chemical, biological, and human components, which make it fit for the production and reproduction of life and which, for this reason, is our mother earth and our common home. We must protect and restore the integrity of the ecosystems, with a special focus on biological diversity and all the natural processes which sustain life”

Featured Legislation

1999: Decree No. 14 was approved. The Regulation consists of 20 chapters and 102 articles, outlining General Provisions (I); Definitions used (II); Administration of the National System of Protected Areas (III); Management categories of protected areas (IV); Declaration of protected areas (V); Management of protected areas (VI); Management plans (VII); Authorizations for activities in protected areas and environmental impact studies (VIII); and Scientific investigations (IX).

1999: Decree No. 71 was ratified. The purpose of this Decree is the creation of the Ecological Seal of Nicaragua for national products, as well as the establishment of institutional responsibilities and procedures for the certification of products. The seal on a product identifies it as environmentally friendly and certifies the existence of controls in the company that produces it.

2001: Decree No. 50 was passed. This Decree established the Forestry Development Policy of Nicaragua, with the purpose of guiding the coherent actions of all the actors in the forestry sector, in order to guarantee the protection, conservation and sustainable use of the forest resource.

2001: Decree No. 25 was created to establish the Environmental Policy of Nicaragua with the purpose of guiding the coherent action of the public administration at all levels, as well as the action of civil organizations and the Nicaraguan population in general, in order to preserve, improve and recover the environmental quality, guaranteeing an environmental management harmonized with economic growth, social equity, the improvement of the quality of life and the sustainable preservation of the environment.

2004: Agreement No. 359/04 was introduced. The Agreement approved the administrative provisions for the ordering, regulation and procedures of access and use of fishing and aquaculture resources throughout the national territory, as well as infractions and sanctions in fishing and aquaculture activities, and the procedures and administrative requirements to be carried out for its due processing.

2005: Decree No. 61 was enacted, establishing the Rural Electrification Policy of Nicaragua, based on which the National Energy Commission will promote the expansion of electricity coverage in rural areas in a sustainable manner.

2007:Decree No. 1/07 was signed. This Decree regulated the General Law of the environment and natural resources with regard to the management of protected areas in the country. The Decree defines the attributions of the different competent authorities. Likewise, it defines the procedure for the declaration of new protected areas, according to the different existing categories, namely: a) biological reserve; b) national park; c) national monument; d) historical monument; and e) wildlife refuge.

2008: Decree No. 69 was drafted. The Decree establishes the National Policy for sustainable development of the Nicaraguan forestry sector, which with a high level of citizen participation aims to contribute to improving the quality of life of current and future generations of the Nicaraguan population.

2012: Law Nº 795 was adopted. This Law declares the Guardabarranco (Eumomota Superciliosa) as the National Bird of Nicaragua. The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources dictated regulations for the protection of the bird and its environment.

2017: Law No. 967 – Modifies Law No. 532, Law for the promotion of electricity generation with renewable sources

This Law modifies Article 8 of the Law for the Promotion of Electricity Generation with Renewable Sources, which reads as follows: “Article 8. New energy generation projects with renewable sources and new extensions to the installed capacity of projects in operation with renewable sources, may qualify for the benefits established in this Law, for a period ending on January 1, 2023".

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • A 2021: Investigation into Nicaragua’s little-known deforestation crisis reveals that the country is losing its forests at a faster rate than any other country in the world. The investigation comes from the United Nations’ collaboration with Nicaragua’s Forestry Ministry. The report is damning, laying bare the extent of state corruption and its role in enabling the destruction of the country’s biodiversity. Indigenous peoples have faced increasing rates of violence from land grabbers and companies seeking lucrative business arrangements in the hinterlands. What is more, the autocratic regime of President Daniel Ortega has launched a crackdown on political dissent, jailing dozens of environmental activists and journalists bringing to light the injustices faced by communities situated along the Coco River near the northern border with Honduras. For example, Miskito residents lament  the environmental destruction and encroachment by outsiders on their lands, as well as the climate of impunity that made these abuses possible. In one instance, the Miskito people reported being displaced from their lands by a company part-owned by a national congressman. Over the past eight months, Nicaragua’s environmental disaster had gone unrecognized because its witnesses were being detained and silenced. Media outlets also face criminal charges, leaving reporters terrified of publicizing the facts. Global Witness, a UK-based nonprofit, revealed that the number of journalists murdered in Nicaragua had doubled in 12 months.

References and Further Reading

Contacts

Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources: Tel (505) 2263-1994, René Castellón: rcastellon@marena.gob.ni