Impact | Negative
Probability | High
Civicus Rating | Repressed
On October 22, legislators from the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) introduced a constitutional reform bill to punish those who commit “hate crimes” with life imprisonment. The issue had been promoted by President Daniel Ortega since mid-September, after a notorious case of gender violence. He had even urged the Supreme Court of Justice to draft the bill.
Currently, the maximum penalty established by the National Constitution is 30 years. Since it is a constitutional reform, the bill must comply with two instances: first the approval to change the constitutional text and then the modification of the Criminal Code.
Both criminal law specialists and representatives of the opposition fear that, if it succeeds, the government may use hate crimes to limit freedom of expression and the right to protest. The current Criminal Code does not criminalize hate crimes but considers ideological or political discrimination as a circumstance that aggravates criminal responsibility. It is likely that the study of the bill will begin in the last week of October.