Human rights defender was stripped of her Nicaraguan nationality and expelled arbitrarily by the authorities

Washington, D.C., November 27th 2018. Ana Quirós Víquez, Director of the Center for Health Information and Advisory Services (CISAS), a Nicaraguan citizen with dual nationality, was illegally expelled from Nicaragua on Monday, November 26th, after immigration authorities annulled the Nicaraguan nationality she had acquired 21 years ago.

The decision of the authorities is clearly arbitrary. Quirós, who was attending an appointment at the General Directorate of Migration and Foreign Affairs (DGME, for its initials in Spanish), was informed by a migration officer that a legal resolution annulling her Nicaraguan nationality had been issued. In addition, the authorities told her she was forbidden from returning to Nicaragua for the next five years. She was not allowed to exercise her right to defense or to appeal the decision, even though these rights are guaranteed under Nicaraguan law.

During an interview given by Quirós to the journalist Carlos Salinas from Confidencial, the activist stated that the authorities told her that the reason for the annulment of her nationality was because she had two nationalities (from Nicaragua and Costa Rica), and only citizens from Central American countries can have both Nicaraguan and Costa Rican nationality. When she asked the authorities if Costa Rica was not a Central American country, the officers remained silent.

Quirós, who is also part of the National Feminist Articulation and a member of the Blue and White National Unity (UNAB, for its initials in Spanish), was born in Costa Rica but has been living in Nicaragua for more than 40 years and was nationalized as a Nicaraguan citizen in 1997.

The activist, a 62-year-old woman, went to the DGME at 10 a.m. last Monday, to respond to a citation that she received two days before. Although the document did not explain what the reason for the citation was, she was warned that if she didn’t show up she would face legal consequences.

“The appointment in Migration was almost nothing. They told me that my nationality was canceled. I asked what the next step was and what my status was. They did not answer me. It was not until later in the afternoon that they read me the resolution to expel me from the country,” Quirós told reporters a day later from the capital city of Costa Rica.

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A group of feminists, human rights defenders, and journalists remained for hours outside of the DGME after Quirós entered the building, but the authorities refused to give them any information about Ms. Quirós. The activist, however, had been transferred by noon to the Directorate of Judicial Assistance, better known as El Chipote.

“They put me in a temporary holding cell that is actually just a seat with bars,” said Quirós, who was fingerprinted and photographed during the detention. “They didn’t interrogate me, I wasn’t physically abused. But I did receive multiple verbal assaults, threats and constant intimidation,” she told journalists a day after she was expelled from Nicaragua.

At 6 pm on Monday, the General Consul of Costa Rica in Nicaragua, Oscar Camacho, stated on social media that the Costa Rican authorities had been informed that the Nicaraguan authorities were going to expel Quirós from Nicaragua

“They took me handcuffed in a bus, surrounded by armed police and accompanied by people from Migration in other vehicles to the southern border at Peñas Blancas. They insisted on not removing my handcuffs until we arrived, even once I got down from the bus I was still handcuffed. They took my shirt and my Nicaraguan hat. The entire way they were harassing me and verbally attacking me,” Quirós denounced.

Directed persecution

Vilma Núñez, President of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH, for its initials in Spanish), said that the actions against Quirós are part of “a directed persecution against all the people who support the claims of the people of Nicaraguan”.

Quirós has been one of the most active voices in the defense of human rights of Nicaraguans who demand democracy, justice and freedom in the context of the current human rights crisis that the country is going through.

In fact, the defender was one of the first victims of the repression that broke out in April. On the 18th of that month, during the first protest that took place in Managua, a mob of Government’s supporters hit her with a tube in her head, arms and the rest of her body. The picture in which she appeared covered in blood was distributed quickly through social media.

In the months that followed, Quirós said she was victim of “multiple threats in a systematic manner,” stating that “they came to visit our neighbors to ask where I was, and whenever I went to the airport they retained me in the migration offices, interrogating me,” she said from San José.

For the moment, the activist assured that she will continue to denounce from Costa Rica the human rights violations that occur in Nicaragua. In addition, she raised the possibility of suing the Nicaraguan State for its arbitrary expulsion from the country.

More women intimidated

On Monday, three Nicaraguan-based activists working with the Collective of Women from Matagalpa were also summoned by the DGME: the Swiss citizen Beatriz Huber and the Spanish sisters Ana and María Jesús Ara. The three of them were asked to sign a document in which they pledged to not participate in any more political activities if they wanted to remain in the country, according to the feminist defenders who accompanied them.

Juanita Jiménez, of the Autonomous Women’s Movement (MAM) of Nicaragua, warned that the process against Quirós and the three other activists from Matagalpa is framed “in that discourse of visceral hatred and disqualification that the Government is carrying out against the Nicaraguan feminism movement.”

Jiménez recalled that the last week, authorities denied authorization to feminist groups and citizens from the UNAB to march on November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights strongly rejects Nicaragua’s expulsion of the human rights defender Ana Quirós. This is another act of repression that comes from the Nicaraguan dictatorship that has plagued the country for more than seven months and that has been systematically demonstrated through assassinations, violations of the freedom of expression and social protest, intimidation of the media and independent journalists, excessive use of force by parapolice groups and police officers, irregular judicial processes and an atmosphere of collective fear that makes the freedom of the Nicaraguan people impossible. We ask the international community to continue to denounce the situation in Nicaragua and to keep paying attention to the serious humanitarian crisis that the country is going through.

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