Washington D.C., February 16, 2023 – The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) strongly condemns the decision of the authoritarian regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo to strip 94 Nicaraguans of their nationality and citizenship rights and order the confiscation of their assets, accusing them of being “traitors to the homeland” and considering them “fugitives from justice”. Among these people are human rights defenders, social and political activists, journalists, media directors, writers and religious people who did not receive prior notification of proceedings against them and are added to the 222 persons released from prison who were banished and stripped of their nationality on February 9.
The decision was announced yesterday, February 15, by Ernesto Rodriguez, Presiding Magistrate of the Court of Appeals of Managua, who alleged that it was adopted by the criminal district judges of Managua, following a denunciation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office about which the victims were not informed either.
It should be noted that the regime had already made use of this practice in the past. Between 2018 and 2021, it cancelled the nationality of at least 3 persons; and in the last seven days, it has stripped 316 Nicaraguan persons of their nationality, including 222 exiled persons who had been deprived of their liberty for political reasons and had suffered acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in state detention centers in Nicaragua.
In view of the serious situation described above, Race and Equality rejects and condemns the fact that the authoritarian regime of Ortega and Murillo continues to use the Judiciary to issue resolutions that contravene all international instruments signed by the Nicaraguan State. These unilateral decisions on the part of the courts of justice represent a flagrant and absolute violation of the principles of the administration of justice, due process and the human rights of the victims.
The State of Nicaragua is obliged to comply with the provisions set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments. In this regard, we recall that Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes that: “No one shall be arbitrarily arrested, imprisoned or exiled“, and Article 15: 1. “Everyone has the right to a nationality” and 2. “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his/her nationality”.
The acts in which the regime is incurring, and in particular, the stripping of nationality and the forced exile of hundreds of people, constitute crimes against humanity according to Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which must be investigated, tried and punished in order to eradicate the structural impunity that prevails in the country.
We alert the international community and human rights protection bodies about this new repressive method to intimidate, silence and leave defenseless people who remain in the country and those who were forced into exile. We emphasize that some of these people have been granted provisional measures by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) due to their serious situation and irreparable risk to their lives.
We call on the member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council to support a new resolution that renews for two years the mandate of the “Group of Experts on Human Rights in Nicaragua” and reinforces its intersectional approach, paying special attention to groups such as victims of forced displacement and victims of arbitrary detention for political reasons and their families.
We demand respect for the personal integrity of the prominent human rights defenders: Dr. Vilma Núñez de Escorcia, president of the Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos CENIDH (Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights); Sofía Montenegro, journalist and activist, and Azahalea Solís, feminist activist; as well as any other person accused for political reasons who is in the country.
We will continue to denounce the abuses being committed by the Ortega-Murillo regime and to document the serious human rights violations committed against those who are clamoring for freedom in Nicaragua. Those responsible for such outrages must be brought to justice and reparations made.