The government maintained minimal protection efforts. The government identified six trafficking victims, including four adults and two girls—four sex trafficking and two forced labor victims. This compared with 12 in 2017, 13 in 2016, 30 in 2015, and 51 in 2014. The government provided six victims—four domestic and two foreign national victims—with medical care, and legal assistance; NGOs provided two victims with shelter and services, while family and friends offered shelter to the other four victims. The government developed and published a National Strategy for Comprehensive Attention to Victims of Trafficking in Persons, which described the process for identifying and assisting victims. However, the government did not report whether it used this new strategy to identify victims, including among vulnerable populations, such as individuals in prostitution, migrants, or working children. Officials did not identify any victims in the autonomous regions where one-sixth of the population resided and where identification and referral mechanisms were lacking.
The government reported providing limited assistance for victims through allocations to government institutions responsible for anti-trafficking efforts, but it did not provide a figure for these allocations nor did it provide specific funding for specialized services or shelters. The government reported it referred two victims to NGOs for shelter and services; however, NGOs reported the government referred only one victim. There were no shelters available for men.
According to the government, adult victims were not free to leave shelters without supervision. The government did not provide long-term care, and the availability of extended services from NGOs was limited. The government did not provide funding to or collaborate with NGOs that provided the majority of victim protection, sometimes leaving victims without vital assistance. Observers reported the government maintained an unofficial policy of placing victims with family members, which puts these individuals at risk of re-victimization by family members who may have been complicit in their exploitation. The Ministry of Family coordinated services to child trafficking victims, including medical and legal services and access to education. Both Managua and regions outside Managua most affected by trafficking largely lacked adequate services.
Law 896 established a dedicated fund for victim protection and prevention activities to be financed through budget allocation, donations, and seized assets from traffickers. However, for the fourth year, the government did not make it operational. Law 896 provided victims the ability to testify in advance of the trial and allowed testimony via video or written statement to encourage participation and protect a victim’s identity; however, the government did not report using these provisions during the reporting period. Victims may obtain damages by filing civil suits against traffickers; however, the government and NGOs reported that in practice victims had never exercised this right. The government, through its diplomatic mission, facilitated some communication between 25 Nicaraguan victims identified in Spain and their families. Authorities sometimes detained victims for questioning, but there were no other reports of victims penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. The government reported screening for indicators of trafficking among migrant populations and those involved in prostitution, but did not report whether screening resulted in the identification of victims. Nicaraguan law provided for humanitarian visas for foreign trafficking victims, and the government provided one foreign national victim with such a visa.