Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Asks Nicaragua about Re-establishing a Dialogue at the National Level and Strengthening Cooperation with International and Regional Human Rights Mechanisms
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights today asked Nicaragua about the situation of vulnerable groups, re-establishing a dialogue at the national level, and strengthening cooperation with international and regional human rights mechanisms for the protection of human rights.
The Committee was considering the fifth periodic report of Nicaragua. The delegation of Nicaragua was represented by Álvaro Fernando Murillo, Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the United Nations Office at Geneva, who attended in “listening mode” without responding to Committee Experts’ questions.
Committee Experts asked Nicaragua how the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted access to health, as well as the education system. The quality of education, how rural and disadvantaged populations were able to access education, as well as the state of academic freedom in higher education institutions were also topics of inquiry. Committee Experts further asked about Nicaragua’s labour market, and how it was adapted to the needs of groups, including women and persons with disabilities.
The Committee will issue the concluding observations and recommendations on the report of Nicaragua at the end of its seventieth session, which concludes on 15 October. Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, will be available on the session’s webpage. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at http://webtv.un.org/.
The Committee is next scheduled to meet in public on Friday, 15 October at 5:30 p.m. to formally close its seventieth session.
The Committee has before it the fifth periodic report of Nicaragua (E/C.12/NIC/5)
Remarks by the Permanent Representative of Nicaragua
ÁLVARO FERNANDO MURILLO, Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the United Nations Office at Geneva and head of the delegation, said Nicaragua would stay in a “listening mode” throughout the meeting.
Questions by the Committee Experts
MIKEL MANCISIDOR, Committee Member, noting that the delegation had chosen to attend in a listening mode, said it was not the Committee’s usual procedure. A dialogue between the Committee and a State party should be an opportunity for Nicaragua to demonstrate to the world its achievements, as noted in its report, as well as an occasion to discuss its report with the Committee. The Committee Experts would still demonstrate their will to carry out a constructive dialogue through putting forward the questions they initially intended to ask the delegation.
Mr. Mancisidor asked what steps Nicaragua had taken to re-establish a dialogue at the national level, promoting effective respect for economic, social and cultural rights. In addition, how did Nicaragua plan to strengthen cooperation with international and regional institutions for the protection of human rights?
The Committee had received a number of reports and complaints alleging violations of economic, social and cultural rights, including cases where individuals had had to flee the country, Mr. Mancisidor said. There were allegations of harassment against medical practitioners for exercising their profession. What measures would Nicaragua take to ensure the protection of human rights defenders, as well as to ensure that cases of harassment were punished accordingly? Had Nicaragua opened investigations into alleged violations of economic, social and cultural rights?
In its list of issues, which had been drafted in 2019, the Committee had not addressed the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Mancisidor noted. In reference to the obligation of the State party to ensure that persons had access to information based on the best scientific knowledge available, he asked if Nicaragua had any dissemination of such information, and were there any associations providing knowledge and information concerning health matters? The Committee had been informed some medical organizations had been disbanded because data they handled was different from the official data on casualties related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
RENATO ZERBINI RIBEIRO LEÃO, Committee Member, asked for updated and disaggregated statistics and data on the underemployment and unemployment rates of Nicaragua. What was the availability of educational programs, how did they meet the market needs, and how did they take into account the needs of the most vulnerable groups? Could the delegation provide data concerning the minimum wage, and the way it was set and reviewed? Did people who experienced injustice at work have access to an effective legal remedy? Mr. Leão also asked for information about cases of sexual harassment at work.
Regarding labour union rights, how was it ensured that the right to create a trade union or the right to strike were enjoyed without any limitation or reprisals? Which specific measures had Nicaragua undertaken to move towards the universal coverage of social security?
KARLA VANESSA LEMUS DE VÁSQUEZ, Committee Member, asked whether the delegation could provide updated information, including disaggregated statistical data, on the incidence of child labour and measures taken to protect children from working in hazardous and dangerous conditions, including domestic work? She further asked for more information on Nicaragua’s creation of 28 specialised family courts throughout the country, with the aim of expanding access to justice for Nicaraguan families. Could the delegation provide information about those courts’ effective operation? Could the delegation provide updated information on maternal mortality rates? She also asked about progress made by the State party on the adoption of a law on sexual and reproductive health.
Ms. Lemus de Vásquez next asked about the design, implementation and results of social programmes aimed at poverty alleviation, particularly in rural areas, and in particular how the needs of the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups were taken into account. She also asked for information about measures adopted to combat poverty and social exclusion of indigenous and Afro-descendant populations living in autonomous regions on the northern and southern Caribbean coast. Which concrete measures had been taken to counteract the negative effects on the environment caused by the exploitation of natural resources?
Nicaragua’s report indicated that it was developing an inclusive policy and promoting access to social housing. How had the right to housing been effectively restored to families, particularly to the most vulnerable families, including indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants?
Nicaragua had not provided sufficient or detailed enough information to give the Committee a clear picture of the situation of the right to health. The State party should share information on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to health in general and in particular on its Family Health Model. With regard to immunization coverage, the Committee would like to know what measures the State had taken to ensure that there were no setbacks in immunization coverage and to protect the progress made. What were the procurement processes, internal distribution procedures and differentiated approaches implemented to ensure affordability and access to vaccines, especially for the most vulnerable groups?
Although progress had been made in reducing teenage pregnancy, it continued to be an issue that required the State’s attention. In that regard, the Committee requested information on the measures Nicaragua had implemented to address the issue from an intersectoral perspective, with a view to a more effective approach to the factors affecting teenage pregnancy. On the topic of women’s health, she noted that the Committee's General Observation 22 on the right to sexual and reproductive health had laid out the obligation of States to adopt legislative, administrative, budgetary, judicial, and other measures to give full effect to the right to sexual and reproductive health.
LAURA-MARIA CRACIUNEAN-TATU, Committee Member, inquired about the status of secondary education enrollment. What was the situation for academic freedom? Which specific steps had Nicaragua taken to increase enrollment rates in secondary education and to improve educational achievements and results? What was the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education in Nicaragua? Although public schools had remained open in the country, some children did not attend, depending on their family-, social-, and economical status. In rural and remote areas there was, reportedly, a lack of trained teachers and unsatisfactory working conditions, including low salary levels. What measures had Nicaragua taken to improve the situation in primary and secondary education?
The Committee was concerned about alleged political interference in higher education institutions, she said, asking what measures Nicaragua had taken to ensure respect for the principles of academic freedom in higher education institutions? What investigations had Nicaragua initiated in response to allegations of students being arbitrarily expelled and arrested for having taken part in demonstrations? Were the students released, or would they be released, and would they be allowed to continue their studies? Lastly, Ms. Craciunean-Tatu asked about the management of cultural diversity in the country, and access to the Internet. Which steps had Nicaragua taken to ensure all groups of society, in all parts of the country, had Internet access?
Replies by the Delegation
The delegation said it had taken note of the questions put forward by the Committee and would be able to reply to them in the coming days. Confirming its attendance in a “listening mode,” the delegation noted that the Committee Experts’ questions had been forwarded to Nicaragua’s capital, and for the time being the delegation was still awaiting answers.
MIKEL MANCISIDOR, Committee Member, thanked the delegation for forwarding the Committee’s questions. However, the submission of written replies, even if they were completed very quickly, were not a substitute for a live dialogue. Written responses could act as a supplement to other information. Under the circumstances, and according to its Rules of Procedure, the Committee would proceed to the consideration of the periodic report in the absence of a dialogue with the State party.