Washington D.C., March 13, 2023.- A delegation made up of three Nicaraguan victims of arbitrary deprivation of nationality and their representative organizations, International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) and Unidad de Defensa Jurídica (UDJ), denounced before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that the forced displacement of 222 persons released from prison and the arbitrary stripping of the nationality of more than 317 Nicaraguans “constitute systematic practices that are part of a generalized policy of political persecution” of the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo against persons considered to be opponents.
Law student and political prisoner, Kevin Solís; journalist and Director of 100% Noticias, Lucía Pineda Ubau; and journalist and Director of Radío Darío, Aníbal Toruño; told the Commission “first hand” about the violations of their human rights. Representatives of the IACHR expressed their solidarity with the victims and their families, and affirmed that the deprivation of nationality is a serious crime.
Kevin Solís: “Many times I wondered if I was going to endure more”
“Many times I wondered if I was going to endure more or if I was actually going to die there, a fear that to this day I have not overcome” recounted student Kevin Solis, who was imprisoned by the Ortega-Murillo regime on two occasions and finally, on February 9, was released from prison, stripped of his Nicaraguan nationality and citizen rights, and banished by the regime along with 221 other people who were deprived of liberty for political reasons in state centers in Nicaragua, who are now being hosted by the United States.
Solis was first kidnapped in 2018 and was imprisoned for 9 months. On February 6, 2020, he was kidnapped for the second time and transferred to the Dirección de Auxilio Judicial, where – among other aggressions – they stripped him naked and threw water on him with high-pressure hoses while insulting him. Six days later they sent him to the maximum security cells of “El infiernillo“, 2×3 in size, without windows, without light, and with a totally sealed door.
“There was not a night where I could sleep peacefully, I was afraid, very afraid that they would come in to take me out of the cell and harm me even more,” the student confessed.
Lucía Pineda: Persecution crossed borders
“The regime accuses, prosecutes, sentences, and convicts in absentia, all in a single act to take away my Nicaraguan nationality and my house, the product of the honest work of a lifetime…. The persecution crossed borders,” denounced Lucía Pineda, who was imprisoned for her journalistic work for six months between 2018 and 2019, went into exile in Costa Rica as a result of political persecution and was stripped of her Nicaraguan nationality along with 93 other people, last February 15.
Pineda highlighted that, in the resolution read by the president of the Court of Appeals of Managua, Ernesto Rodríguez Mejía, 11 journalists and media directors were declared “fugitives from justice” and deprived of their Nicaraguan nationality. For this reason, she has asked the Commission to “advance in the knowledge of the cases of journalists and media outlets, to achieve prompt justice and reparation for the serious violations committed”.
Aníbal Toruño: “We are stigmatized as traitors, persecuted, and denationalized”
“In Nicaragua there is no space for the exercise of freedom of expression and press…. We are stigmatized as traitors, persecuted, denationalized, expropriated, and banished from the country”, denounced the Director of Radio Darío, Aníbal Toruño, who is in his second exile as a result of the destruction of his journalistic content and attacks against him in April 2018 and September 2019. Toruño is on the list of 94 people arbitrarily deprived of their nationality since February 15.
The workers of Radio Darío are beneficiaries of precautionary measures; however, the State of Nicaragua has been in complete disregard of the Commission’s requests and, to date, the implementation of the measures has been null and void. “No measures have ever been adopted to protect me…. On the contrary, in the last few months the instrumentalization of the Judicial and Legislative Power has deepened repression and thus has silenced the independent media with the interest of producing a general information blackout”, added Toruño.
IACHR Representatives: “The loss of nationality is equivalent to civil death and this is a serious crime”
Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, IACHR Rapporteur for Nicaragua stated that the stripping of nationality “and removing their names from public records has an impact on the identity and lives of people and their children.”
“Everything you have been through has to be remembered. This is not just a problem of Nicaragua, it is a problem of humanity, of democracy. Everything we have heard is the dehumanization of the other,” said Commissioner Julissa Mantilla.
For his part, Commissioner Joel Hernández affirmed that “the loss of nationality is equivalent to civil death and this is a serious crime” and emphasized the importance of the creation and monitoring of the Special Follow-up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI) to document these and other serious human rights violations in Nicaragua.
The Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty, Commissioner Edgar Stuardo Ralón, thanked Race and Equality for its work on behalf of persons deprived of liberty for political reasons and reaffirmed its commitment to continue working for the release of the 37 people still imprisoned.
At the end of the hearing, the Chair of the IACHR, Margarette May Macaulay, pledged that the IACHR will continue to “work diligently to seek to correct these grave and disproportionate violations against the Nicaraguan people”.
Race and Equality, the Unidad de Defensa Judicial and the persons represented urge the Commission to, among other things, maintain the protection measures and require the immediate release of the 37 persons who are still deprived of liberty for political reasons in Nicaragua; we also request that the State of Nicaragua be required to:
- Close the judicial processes and eliminate the criminal records of the persons released from prison and banished, and cease the persecution of their families.
- Guarantee family reunification, facilitating the issuance and validity of basic official information to exercise citizenship rights for those affected by the violations that gave rise to the hearing.
- Restore the nationality of the people who have suffered their dispossession and guarantee their citizenship rights, including the right to their old age pension.
- Cease the requirements of the Attorney General’s Office to dispossess the 94 persons deprived of their nationality on February 15, among others.
- Repeal the Law to Reform Article 21 of the Political Constitution of Nicaragua, the Law to Regulate the Loss of Nationality, as well as Laws 1055 and 1042, which have been used to criminalize the defense of human rights and all forms of dissidence.