Target: Diputado Santos René Núñez Tellez, President of the National Assembly
Goal: Prevent reforms that would weaken a crucial anti-domestic violence law in Nicaragua
Nicaragua’s Comprehensive Law number 779 went into effect in June 2012, but ever since then it has had to withstand attacks from critics who believe it “[breaks] up the family unit.” The law, which outlines the legal rights of people fleeing abusive situations, must be protected as is. Sign the petition and tell the President of the National Assembly to stand behind survivors of domestic abuse.
Amnesty International calls Comprehensive Law number 779 “an important step forward and an essential tool for combating violence against women in Nicaragua .” The law makes “acts of physical and psychological violence against women” criminal offenses and streamlines the legal process involved in obtaining justice for survivors of domestic violence. A key way in which the law protects those fleeing abusive situations is by outlawing mediation as a method of addressing the problem. This particular facet of the law was adopted after multiple studies showed that mediation actually put women at significant risk of continued or even escalated violence. In the words of United Nations Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo, mediation systems “[erode] accountability imperatives…and further [foster] norms of impunity.” Although Manjoo was speaking about mediation systems in India, her comments are still poignant and relevant: mediation privileges abusers and puts the safety of other family members at risk.
Opponents of the law’s prohibition on mediation accuse it of “breaking up the family unit.” A new provision has been proposed: “crimes with sentences of less than five years (this includes crimes such as serious bodily harm, the abduction of children, and threats) can be dealt with through mediation, instead of the criminal justice system.” This provision could prove disastrous for both the strength of Comprehensive Law number 779 and for survivors of abuse.
Protective laws don’t break up families; violence and abuse do. Sign the petition and urge the President of the National Assembly to keep the Comprehensive Law number 779 as it is.
Dear President of the National Assembly,
The passage of Comprehensive Law number 779 in June 2012 was a commendable step forward in the struggle against domestic violence in Nicaragua. However, recently proposed revisions to the law have the potential to greatly weaken it, putting the very people it aims to protect at greater risk of violence and abuse. I urge you to take a stand for survivors of domestic violence–do not alter Comprehensive Law number 779’s prohibition of mediation.
Proponents of the law’s amendment claim that Comprehensive Law number 779 contributes to the breakup of families by prohibiting mediation. However, multiple studies have shown that mediation does not solve domestic abuse problems; in fact, it often contributes to a continuation or even an escalation of violence.
Families rocked by domestic abuse have been broken apart long before the law becomes involved. A measure like Comprehensive Law number 779 only provides survivors of abuse with resources and protection. When a family falls apart because of domestic violence, it is not the fault of a law; it is the fault of the abuser.
Mediation puts women at risk and, in the words of United Nations Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo, “[erodes] accountability imperatives…and further [fosters] norms of impunity.” In short, a provision allowing for offenses that carry sentences of under five years to be settled through mediation instead of in the courts privileges abusers over survivors, lawbreakers over those who have been victimized. It jeopardizes the safety of many so that a few can commit unspeakable acts of violence. It ignores the very people Comprehensive Law number 779 is meant to help.
Please do not allow Nicaragua’s legal system to move backwards. Stand up for the rights and safety of domestic abuse survivors. Keep Comprehensive Law number 779 as it is.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: European Parliament via Flickr