A young Nicaraguan girl who accused four policemen and a private security agent of gang raping her in an empty house 30 meters from the presidential compound has tried to commit suicide twice in the past week, according to the Nicaragua Center for Human Rights (CENIDH).
“She cut one of her wrists and was taken to a hospital last week,” says CENIDH lawyer Andrea Rothschuh, who is following the case on behalf of the victim’s family. “The government is not giving her the psychological care she needs. She is at home, depressed and not going to school.”
The 12-year-old victim, who suffers from a series of physical and mental disabilities and reportedly has the mental capacity of a girl half her age, was allegedly taken against her will by police and repeatedly raped and abused for nearly 12 hours. She finally escaped the house the following morning at 7:30 a.m. He father had already reported her missing.
The crime occurred in a home three blocks from her house and inside the police perimeter surrounding the neighborhood of Presidential Daniel Ortega’s compound.
Three of the four police officers indentified by the victim have been arrested and dishonorably discharged. Two are accused of aggravated rape and the third of sexual abuse. The trial starts next month on Oct. 11.
A fourth officer and a private security guard from El Goliat, a private security firm linked to the Ortega family’s business portfolio, were not arrested or charged of any crimes. CENIDH claims it is part of a cover-up to protect those individuals, one of whom is allegedly the key player in the case.
Though the case is advancing, it’s happening “too slowly” and mostly in response to pressure from human rights groups and the media, Rothschuh says.
The lawyer notes that the victim’s family attempted to place a police complaint on their own, but were ignored by authorities. It wasn’t until CENIDH and the media got involved that police responded.
Police Commissioner Aminta Granera has called the incident “embarrassing” and promised to get to the bottom of the case. She said DNA testing would be performed on blood and condoms found at the scene of the crime.
CENIDH’s Rothschuh says the States Prosecutors’ office is taking the case very seriously, but notes that prosecutors can only build their case on the evidence presented to them by the police. She says any deficiencies—intentional or otherwise—from the police investigation won’t be revealed until the trial begins next month.
“The investigation is dubious due to the amount of time that elapsed,” Rothschuh claims.
The case of the girl allegedly raped by police officers in the shadows of the presidential compound has become emblematic in rights groups’ fight against official impunity in Nicaragua.
CENIDH and a collection of other rights groups and feminist organizations this week declared a “situation of alert” due to the alarming number of cases of sexual abuse of minors.
According to the Police Commissioners’ Office for Women and Children’s Affairs, there were a total of 3,660 complaints of sexual violence reported to police last year, and 1,873 police complaints during the first semester of 2012. Of those, 1,050 were acts of sexual abuse committed against girls under the age of 14, according to official statistics.
Human rights groups claim many of those cases are not resolved transparently. CENIDH points to the case of the 12-year-old indigenous girl from Walpa Siksa who was raped and had to give birth due to the government’s total ban on therapeutic abortions. The government’s official media celebrated the birth as “a miracle of God,” but—CENIDH notes— “did not show any interest in persecuting the sexual aggressor; we are still waiting for a response from authorities on that case.”
Rights groups are demanding that the government release statistics on how many cases of sexual abuse have been invested and prosecuted by authorities in recent years. The government’s secrecy about the issue has only fanned suspicions of massive impunity.