Washington, D.C. October 26 2018. The International Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race & Equality) forcefully condemns the arbitrary ban on entry into Nicaragua imposed on the work team from the Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional [Center for Justice and International Law] (CEJIL), who in the morning of October 26 were to meet with President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Margarette Macaulay and members of the Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI) to discuss topics related to the humanitarian crisis that began in the country on April 18. The crisis has merited the attention of said body of the inter-American human rights protection system, as well as that of CEJIL, an international organization that has worked in Nicaragua for many years.
The incidents took place around 7 a.m. when representatives of CEJIL Marcia Aguiluz Soto, Francisca Estuardo Vidal, and Paola Limón were notified by airport authorities that they could not enter the country, alleging that they had not given the required amount of advance notice of their arrival. Then, upon questioning by the delegation, [the authorities] put forth reasons related to the exercise of sovereignty that represent a new outrage committed against human rights defenders. The authorities were intransigent, even when CEJIL displayed the formal invitation it had received from the IACHR. In images published on CEJIL’s official Twitter account, one can see the team being escorted to depart the country, accompanied by a message denouncing “This is how they ‘escort’ us to leave #Nicaragua, when we attempt to enter in order to attend a meeting with the @cidh [IACHR]. They refuse us entry, despite having a formal invitation. They make use of gimmicks and return us in less than an hour. #SosNicaragua.”
We join our voice to other voices to emphatically reject and vehemently condemn this act as evidence of the grave humanitarian crisis underway in this Central American country, as well as the systematic hampering of the work of defending human rights. We denounce the obvious intention of the Ortega-Murillo regime to isolate the international community from the repression, harassment, and criminalization which it continues to inflict on the people who continue to express themselves civically, especially directed against the activists, independent media outlets, [and] human rights defenders who are completely defenseless. It was not for nothing that a few weeks ago it was made known that the working group from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) was kicked out of the country, and today one of the organizations that has historically worked for democracy and the guarantee of human rights was arbitrarily denied entry. Nothing has improved in Nicaragua, as was affirmed today by OHCHR in its first monthly bulletin monitoring the situation.
All of these incidents lead us to elevate the international level of alert regarding the situation in Nicaragua [and] to ask the international community, human rights protection bodies, and the various expressions of civil society to redouble their efforts to ensure the prompt return of democracy, justice, and peace to Nicaragua.