Despite having socio-economic conditions and a history of conflicts more akin to the northern-triangle countries, with a national level of 11 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, in terms of crime more parallels can be drawn with its southern neighbours. The territorial distribution of insecurity is marked, with a major concentration in the eastern and northern part of the country (especially the autonomous regions), where extremely high homicide rates per 100,000 inhabitants were recorded in 2011: 43 (South Atlantic Autonomous Region -RAAS), 35 (Triangulo Minero), 21 (Jinotega), and 19 (North Atlantic Autonomous Region-RAAN). This is in stark contrast to the northwest and southwest of the country, with the only exceptions being the capital Managua and Matalgalpa, where a rate of 14 per 100,000 inhabitants was recorded in 2011.
Public security in Nicaragua is presided over by a centralized Police action, with a preventive and community character. The repression of crime is divided between police functions and those that correspond to the Office of the Public Prosecutor.
• National Police: its origins are linked to the 1979 Sandinista Revolution. In 1992, following a period of transition in which it was officially renamed as the National Police, it was organized as such, reaffirming its civilian and apolitical nature.
• Ministry of Interior: since its creation in 1990 the National Police has been within its authority, as well as being charged with migratory and penitentiary affairs, among other questions. It presides and coordinates the National Multidisciplinary Commission for the Control of the Illegal Trafficking of Small and Light Arms.
• Nicaraguan Army: coordinates actions with the National Police, as well as implementing specific plans in the area, principally in the fight against drug trafficking and security in rural areas.
• National Council against Organized Crime: it is the State body governing the development of policies and programs for preventing and combating drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime. Created in 2010, it replaces the National Council for Combating Drugs. With an autonomous and inter-institutional character, and with its own Executive Secretariat, it also has representation in the country’s interior.
• National Council for Citizen Coexistence and Security: it is the President’s advisory and coordinating body on policies and pro- grams to promote coexistence and citizen security. It has an inter- institutional character as well as civil society representation. It promotes citizen participation through Social Crime Prevention Committees and Local Security Councils. Since 2007, the National Police holds the position of Executive Secretary.
• Office of the Public Prosecutor: since 2000, it carries out the surveillance and protection of society and victims of crime, promoting the investigation of criminal acts and the corresponding prosecution of those that violate the law, or that threaten public order or public security.
• Institute of Legal Medicine: attached to the Supreme Court, it was established in 1999 as the body responsible for forensic, medical and forensic laboratory services.
• Human Rights Ombudsman: since 1996, it is an independent and autonomous body that oversees State institutions in relation to respect for human rights.
Prior to the fall of Somoza’s dictatorship in 1979, the National Guard received military training and held the functions of both national security and internal order. Their dissolution following the Sandinista Revolution was accompanied by the creation of the Sandinista Police, which initially received support from the Panamanian government. Given the domestic context, which prioritized national defense against the Contras, operational and administrative forces were established to support the troops of the Interior Ministry, but during a period of transition from 1990 to 1992, the institution assumed the official name of the National Police, its uniform was changed and its functions defined.
This was followed by a period of institutional strengthening, and the 1996 Law of the National Police confirmed the National Police’s status as the country’s sole police body. The years passed, the sole exercise of police functions, and the territorial-community form of police work exercised since its creation have surely collaborated in the strengthening of this police force.
The institution has received the assistance of the international community in order to develop and modernize its capabilities to meet the challenges of citizen security and to further develop its community-policing model.
Nicaragua in “The Public Security Index”
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