Nicaragua’s Attorney General to oversee sustainable use of natural resources

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By Marco Echevarria

The Assembly approved urgently the “Law for the Certification of Environmental Permits and Authorizations” 

And the addition to Law 411 establishes that “the Attorney General’s Office will grant environmental certification on the permits or authorizations issued in this matter by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Marena)”, for the sustainable use of the country’s natural resources.

The Law specifies that “environmental certification is mandatory for the beneficiary to begin its works, under penalty of administrative, civil and criminal responsibilities.”

Police always involved

The new legislation warns that the Attorney General’s Office may assist the Police to verify or inspect those who request certification.

“For Environmental Certification, the Attorney General’s Office will require Marena and relevant public institutions to provide the information and collaboration it deems necessary; Likewise, to carry out verifications or inspections, the authorities of the National Police may be assisted.”

The Law establishes that the Attorney General’s Office has a maximum period of 60 days to respond to the certification request; if it does not respond, it is assumed that the request was not approved.

“The Attorney General’s Office must resolve the request within a period of 30 days, extendable only once for the same period; after the period, negative administrative silence will operate,” the law states.

Attorney General has the last word

The environmentalist and researcher, Amaru Ruiz, valued that this environmental certification law gives the last word to the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic on granting these permits, because there were already environmental regulations, controls and guarantees in charge of Marena and the “Sistema of Environmental Evaluation of Permits and Authorizations for the sustainable use of natural resources.”

“This is an additional permit request to those that were already established, which may mean an increase in costs to obtain environmental guarantees from a collection point on the part of the State,” said Ruiz.

The environmentalist also stated that, as is usual, the Ortega regime continues to centralize and control the institutions that are supposed to be decentralized, in addition to giving a role of “judge and party” to the Attorney General’s Office, to issue permits to private applicants. and represent the interests of the State.

“That can be counterproductive, especially given the practice that has existed in the Ortega Murillo regime of benefiting companies that are linked to them and punishing companies that are not linked to them. The balance leans towards favoring state companies and the companies of the Ortega Murillo family,” said the environmentalist.

Ruiz asserted that this new legislation will also serve as a filter for the regime to realize more quickly and rigorously who is requesting environmental certifications.

Finally, the environmentalist said that none of this ensures the protection of the environment and natural resources. “The regime has shown that it is not interested in the real environmental problems facing the country,” he added.

Attorney’s Office controls all public records

The president of the National Assembly, Gustavo Porras, recognized that this new legislation has a similar function to the “Commission for verification of State suppliers”, approved in December 2023, which also placed concessions to state suppliers. Porras also said that the issuance of environmental certification is related to the property registry.

“It is necessary to put in the participation of an institution that manages the commercial registry, the Public Property Registry and we are talking about the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic. This is a law that acts on a model similar to the one we approved related to the verification of State suppliers,” said Porras.

Gustavo Porras, president of the National Assembly of Nicaragua. Photo taken from the networks of the National Assembly

Last November, the National Assembly also approved a law that transferred control of the Public Property Registry from the Supreme Court of Justice to the Attorney General’s Office, which for critics means that the dictatorship will have an easier time confiscating assets. and properties of opponents.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in La Prensa NI