August 26th, 2019. As UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet prepares to present her report on Nicaragua on September 10th, in compliance with the March 21st Human Rights Council resolution “Promotion and protection of human rights in Nicaragua” (A/HRC/40/L.8), civil society organizations and human rights defenders wish to express our concerns regarding ongoing repression, harassment, and threats against those defending democracy, justice, and human rights in Nicaragua.
For the last 16 months, Nicaragua has suffered a human rights crisis provoked by brutal repression from state forces and pro-government armed groups seeking to quell massive country-wide protests.
According to data from the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) at least 328 people died, including 29 children and adolescents, and more than 2,000 were injured as a result of this violence. Thousands more were arrested arbitrarily, and hundreds were criminalized for exercising their right to protest. The majority of these political prisoners were released under the recent Amnesty Law, which was approved unilaterally by National Assembly members from the ruling FSLN party. However, the Amnesty Law perpetuates impunity by ruling out investigation into suspected crimes committed against protestors.
Furthermore, the government continues to repress the population by imprisoning citizens and violating the due processes to which they are entitled under Nicaraguan law. As a result, some 120 political prisoners remain incarcerated as of July 28th according to the the registry maintained by the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy.
The second attempt at dialogue between the Civic Alliance (made up of various opposition groups) and the government, which began in February this year, had achieved some formal agreements, but none of these agreements were honored or implemented by the government. After months of impasse caused by this non-compliance, the government made a unilateral decision to terminate negotiations on July 30th.
The facts on the ground make clear that there is no will among the Nicaraguan authorities to guarantee truth, justice, and reparation for the victims of repression and their families; nor are there guarantees that the government will return to good-faith dialogues that respect the previous agreements.
Given these facts, we recommend that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights should:
- Demand the immediate release of all prisoners arrested in relation to the protests beginning in April 2018 and of all those being charged for alleged common crimes in retaliation for their continued participation in civic demonstrations. Furthermore, to demand the full restoration of these released persons’ rights and liberties along with the closure of their cases, cancelation of their convictions, and reparation of their confiscated goods.
- Urge the State of Nicaragua to cease the repression and persecution of young people, human rights defenders, student leaders, women, journalists, LGBTQ persons, and ex-prisoners who continue to be harassed and threatened with detention or prosecution. Furthermore, to demand respect for the rights of children and adolescents to safety and protection.
- Demand that the State of Nicaragua disarm and dismantle pro-government armed groups that threaten and attack Nicaraguans.
- Make use of all mechanisms within the Universal System of Human Rights to give special and urgent attention to the human rights of Nicaraguans currently seeking refuge in Costa Rica and other countries.
- Demand that the State of Nicaragua respect the right to pursue human rights work, restore legal recognition to civil society organizations whose status was revoked (CENIDH, CISAS, CINCO, IEEPP, Hagamos Democracia, Popol Na, IPADE, ILLS, and Fundación del Río), and return these organizations’ confiscated property
- Insist upon the return of confiscated property and the restoration of suspended licenses to news outlets 100% Noticias, Confidencial, and Esta Noche and insist that these outlets be allowed to carry out their work without any obstacles or retaliation.
- Offer the OHCHR’s good offices for ensuring the return of human rights mechanisms (IACHR, OHCHR, GIEI) to Nicaragua. In this area, the work of the GIEI (Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts), including its proposal of creating a Special Prosecutor’s Office and an Integral Plan of Reparations for the victims, was very positive.
- Request that Nicaragua revoke the Amnesty Law, which is contrary to the American Convention on Human Rights; make meaningful reforms to the national judicial system; and ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
- Demand that the State of Nicaragua immediately implement protection for indigenous and Afro-descendant people who are being harassed and killed in different regions of the country and underline that the State must urgently protect these communities from violent attacks and land invasions.
We also request that States’ permanent missions to the United Nations:
- Call upon the Nicaraguan government to return to inclusive national dialogues that will end the ongoing repression and establish concrete terms for a democratic transition.
- Insist that as part of these dialogues, the State of Nicaragua take up a sincere electoral reform process that will result in legislation guaranteeing free and fair elections scheduled for November 2021.
- Firmly back the demands of the Nicaraguan people for truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-repetition.
- Urge the State of Nicaragua to accept the recommendations resulting from the Universal Periodic Review process and to implement those recommendations classified as urgent, including the disarmament of paramilitary forces.
Finally, we call upon the United Nations Human Rights Council to:
- Renew the mandate of the resolution “Promotion and protection of human rights in Nicaragua,” so that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights can continue to monitor the human rights situation in the country.
- – Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos, CENIDH.
- – Instituto para el Desarrollo y la Democracia, IPADE.
- – Unión de Presos y Presas políticos de Nicaragua, UPPN.
- – Centro por la Justicia y Derechos Humanos de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua, CEJUDHCAN.
- – Fundación Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, FVBCH.
- – Canal 100% Noticias
- – Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres, MAM.
- – Articulación de Movimientos Sociales.
- – Centro de Investigaciones de la Comunicación, CINCO.
- – Centro de Información y Servicios de Asesoría en Salud, CISAS.
- – Foro de Educación y Desarrollo Humano de la Iniciativa por Nicaragua.
- – Iniciativa Nicaragüense de Defensoras, IN-Defensoras.
- – Fundación Puntos de Encuentro.
- – Red de Mujeres de Matagalpa.
- – Red de Mujeres Contra la Violencia.
- – Colectivo de Mujeres de Matagalpa.
- – Feministas Madrid por Nicaragua.
- – Asociación Colectivo de Mujeres 8 de Marzo.
- – Movimiento de Jóvenes Feministas Las Malcriadas.
- – Articulación Feminista de Nicaragua.
- – Movimiento Feminista de Nicaragua.
- – Programa Feminista La Corriente.
- – Mujeral en Acción.
- – Grupo Lésbico Feminista Artemisa.
- – Fundación Coordinadora de ONG’s que trabajan por los derechos de la Niñez, CODENI.
- – SOS Nicaragua UK.
- – Morada Feminista Nicaragua UK.
- – SOS Nicaragua- Sverige.
- – Resistencia Civil Nicaraguense.
- – Proyecto Lechuza.
- – Popol Na.
- – Movimiento por Nicaragua.
- – Anides.
- – Campaña 28 de septiembre por la Despenalización del Aborto – Punto focal Nicaragua.
LATIN AMERICAN ORGANIZATIONS
- – Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres.
- – Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos, IM-Defensoras.
- – Fundación Para el Debido Proceso, DPLF.
- – Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos -Guatemala, UDEFEGUA.
- – Fondo de Acción Urgente – América Latina y el Caribe.
- – Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe por la Democracia, REDLAD.
- – Institute about Race, Equality and Human Rights, Race&Equality.
- – International Service for Human Rights, ISHR.
- – International Network of Human Rights, RIDH.
- – Just Associates, JASS.
- – CIVICUS.
- – Asociation France-Nicaragua.
- – Freedom House.