Nicaragua Programs

Criminal Law Reform and Anti-Human Trafficking


The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) implemented its juvenile justice program in Nicaragua from August 2010–October 2011. With support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the program supported the development of a strategic plan for Nicaraguan juvenile justice procedures, including post-prison rehabilitation and reintegration. The Program analyzed Nicaragua’s current legal framework, as well as the local capacity to operate within that framework, to determine the country’s ability to effectively process juvenile justice cases. The analysis, which was subsequently published in November 2010 as the Assessment of Juvenile Justice in Nicaragua, formed the basis for targeted technical assistance, improved coordination through an inter-institutional working group and aided in the development of the strategic plan. Our program focused on preventing recidivism, especially among juveniles accused of minor crimes that overwhelmed the justice system. Furthermore, the program aimed to tackle juvenile delinquency by preventing offenses, re-socializing and reintegrating offenders and providing assistance to victims.

Legal Profession Reform

In June 2006, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) began promoting legal profession reforms in Nicaragua to bring the country’s commercial law sector into compliance with the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). Under the U.S. Agency for International Development-supported program, which ended in September 2007, ABA ROLI worked with Nicaraguan business attorneys, legislators and government officials in three areas:

1) Competition law reform

ABA ROLI supported Nicaraguan legislators to draft a revised competition law that is compliant with the DR-CAFTA. Leading competition lawyers from the U.S. and Mexico reviewed the country’s competition law and suggested changes. The resulting comprehensive draft was subsequently passed into law.

2) Strengthening mediation

As part of the effort to encourage legal changes that support the DR-CAFTA, ABA ROLI worked with Nicaraguan businesses to enhance commercial mediation. The program provided training in DR-CAFTA’s dispute resolution provisions and basic training in commercial mediation. The trainings focused on commercial mediation to promote speedy and less controversial resolutions to commercial disputes. ABA ROLI also formed an advisory committee of in-country experts and held week-long trainings for 50 mediation center operators to improve their handling of commercial cases and to help them follow standardized hiring and center-operating procedures.

3) Strengthening arbitration

ABA ROLI brought select Nicaraguan arbitration experts to the U.S. for trainings in international arbitration law and procedure. The trainings also addressed arbitration-related advocacy skills. The trainings were meant to enhance the capacity of Nicaraguan government and businesses to participate in international arbitration proceedings.