Violent End of the Year in Nicaragua: Maximum Alert Due to Unprecedented Raid Against Catholic Church Leaders

Violent End of the Year in Nicaragua: Maximum Alert Due to Unprecedented Raid Against Catholic Church Leaders

Washington D.C., December 31, 2023.- Just hours before the close of 2023, the Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race and Equality) issues a maximum alert to the international community regarding the unprecedented raid, arbitrary detentions, and forced disappearances committed by the dictatorial regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo against members of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua. Race and Equality calls for international condemnation of the detention of at least 17 religious figures in the last days of 2023 and urges the international community to exert greater pressure to compel the Nicaraguan regime to respect human rights and be held accountable for the crimes against humanity committed.

“This year-end raid is just a glimpse of the terror experienced in Nicaragua, undoubtedly foreshadowing what the year 2024 holds for this nation. The regime respects no human rights, and religious freedom is no exception. We continue to monitor and report the crimes to the Universal System and the Inter-American System of Human Rights. However, we are aware that the gravity of the situation exceeds our efforts. The international community must act urgently,” said Carlos Quesada, Executive Director of Race and Equality.

The regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, unfoundedly, has labeled the Catholic Church as a “coup plotter” since the institution’s participation as a mediator in the negotiations of the National Dialogue table to seek peaceful solutions to the socio-political crisis that began in April 2018. The attacks on the Church have escalated in violence, attempting to instill terror in Nicaraguans who practice their faith and follow their religious leaders.

In February of this year, the regime released, deported to the United States, and stripped at least eight religious figures of Nicaraguan nationality, who had been arbitrarily detained for political reasons since 2022. The regime also isolated Bishop Rolando Álvarez Lagos in “La Modelo” prison, sentencing him to 26 years for false charges of conspiracy and spreading fake news, and stripping him of his nationality and citizenship rights.

Additionally, in 2023, the regime severed diplomatic relations with the Vatican, de facto “institutionalized” the prohibition of religious activities, established permanent surveillance in Catholic churches, closed and confiscated the Jesuit Central American University (UCA), incarcerated and deported 12 other priests to the Vatican, and continued its “scorched earth” strategy against civil society organizations, including religious institutions. It is estimated that at least 76 nuns and 151 priests have been deported, expelled, or prevented from entering Nicaragua.

The religious victims of this year-end raid include Bishop Isidoro Mora and seminarians Alester Sáenz and Tony Palacios from the Diocese of Siuna; Monsignors Carlos Avilés, Ismael Serrano, Silvio Fonseca, Miguel Mántica, Mykel Monterrey, Jader Hernández, Gerardo Rodríguez, Raúl Zamora, and Héctor Treminio from the Diocese of Managua; Ervin López, Monsignor Jaime Ramos, and Monsignor Marcos Díaz Prado from Chinandega; Fernando Calero from Matagalpa; Monsignor Pablo Villafranca from Masaya. Currently, their whereabouts are unknown, placing them in a situation of forced disappearance.

It is noteworthy that Father Jader Guido and Monsignor Óscar Escoto from the Diocese of Matagalpa were arbitrarily detained and later released. Both are under threatening police and paramilitary surveillance.

“At this year-end, we want to express our strongest condemnation but also our solidarity and wishes of hope and resilience to the Nicaraguan people, particularly the families of the victims of arbitrary detentions and other crimes committed by the dictatorship that remain in impunity. We recognize the work of human rights defenders, including those defending religious freedom, who are tireless in their efforts. In 2024, restoring democracy in Nicaragua must be a priority on our agendas. Let’s not forget Nicaragua!” concluded Christina Fetterhoff, Race and Equality’s Director of Programs.

Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo Will Not be Able to Evade Justice – Institutional Statement Regarding Nicaragua’s Exit from the OAS.

Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo Will Not be Able to Evade Justice.

Institutional Statement Regarding Nicaragua’s Exit from the OAS.

Washington D.C., November 17, 2023 – The dictatorial regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo will withdraw from the Organization of American States (OAS) on Sunday, November 19, 2023, demonstrating its intention to isolate itself while strengthening its ties with other autocratic regimes to maintain the police state and impunity that prevails in the country. From the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality), we are certain that the Ortega and Murillo regime will not be able to avoid justice, as they must comply with the agreements voluntarily signed during their membership in the OAS and other international treaties to which the State is a signatory.

The Nicaraguan government notified its “unavoidable decision to denounce the Charter of the Organization of American States in accordance with its Article 143, which initiates Nicaragua’s definitive withdrawal and resignation from this Organization” on November 18, 2021, days after Daniel Ortega’s reelection for a fifth term and the OAS’s rejection of these elections as “not free, fair, transparent, and lacking democratic legitimacy.”

While Article 143 stipulates that two years after the denunciation, the Charter will cease to have effect for the denouncing state; other inter-American and international treaties to which the State of Nicaragua has voluntarily signed remain in force as avenues for accountability. Additionally, Nicaragua remains bound by the American Convention on Human Rights and must adhere to it.

“The Nicaraguan people are an example of resilience and constant struggle for democracy, but Nicaragua’s exit from the OAS is still a serious matter, as it weakens the functioning of the Inter-American Human Rights Protection System. Let’s remember that Ortega has committed crimes seen only in the worst dictatorships. We cannot leave them alone; this fight must be collective!” said Carlos Quesada, Executive Director of Race and Equality.

Currently, the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo holds 91 individuals in political detention, including a priest in total isolation and 17 imprisoned women exposed to gender-based risks, such as sexual violence. There are still 355 summary executions of protesters in total, more than 316 stateless individuals deprived of their citizenship rights, including 222 people who were political prisoners until February 9, 2023.

Comprehensive investigations by the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua (GHREN) reveal that, through the instrumentalization of the Executive, Legislative, Judicial, and Electoral branches, high government authorities have committed widespread and systematic violations and abuses for political reasons, constituting crimes against humanity.

“The international community already has information to initiate legal actions and extend sanctions to institutions and individuals involved in these international crimes. I make an urgent appeal to the international community, particularly to the states in the Latin American region genuinely committed to democracy, to take immediate action,” added Quesada.

The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) is committed to seeking a peaceful resolution to the sociopolitical and human rights crisis that has plagued the Nicaraguan people since 2018.

We continue to demand that the State of Nicaragua fulfill its international obligations regarding human rights and reestablish significant cooperation with the international community.

We will continue to monitor and document the abuses of the dictatorship and support organizations and victims of state repression in their complaints to regional and international human rights protection mechanisms.

We are aware that ongoing investigations will lead to the identification of the perpetrators of these serious human rights violations constituting crimes against humanity. Therefore, to combat impunity and pave the way for democracy, we offer the results of our monitoring and documentation work to international protection mechanisms.

The Nicaraguan people deserve justice! The victims deserve justice!

CEDAW Committee Calls on Nicaragua to Withdraw Its Denunciation of the OAS Charter and Adopt Measures to Protect Women and Girls

Washington D.C., October 31, 2023.-  Twenty days prior to Nicaragua’s withdrawal from the Organization of American States (OAS), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), in its Concluding Observations, urged the Nicaraguan authorities to retract their complaint against the Organization of American States Charter. The Committee also urged the State to engage in dialogue and take necessary measures to comply with its observations on the promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls in the country.

During the review on 23 October, Ambassador Rosalía Concepción Bohórquez Palacios made a statement calling the Committee “biased” and departed from the review without providing information on budget allocations for the Ministry of Women, the adoption of a national gender equality policy, or measures to ensure that women – particularly those residing in the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean –  benefit from public programs to promote gender equality and eliminating discrimination. The State of Nicaragua has progressively withdrawn from international treaties and has broken commitments to international human rights treaty bodies by not actively participating in their revisions.

Repeal of Laws that Discriminate Against Women

Considering concerning reports spanning the last four years, which have documented 7,000 cases of attacks against women human rights defenders branded as “traitors” and “coup plotters,” as well as the non-implementation of protective measures issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in connection with 38 cases of women human rights defenders subjected to intimidation and reprisals, the Committee called on the State of Nicaragua to repeal all legislation that discriminates against women on the basis of their political opinions and their participation in political and public life. Among these laws are the Foreign Agents Law (Law 1040), the Special Law on Cybercrimes (Law 1042), and the Law for the Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-Determination for Peace (Law 1055).

The Committee further pressed the State to immediately release the women detained for their dissenting political views and ensure the safeguarding of their right to life, liberty, and physical and psychological well-being during and after their release. As of 31 August, 16 women were deprived of their liberty for political reasons, according to the Mechanism for the Recognition of Political Prisoners

According to the Committee, the State should adopt a plan of action for the reparation, rehabilitation, and compensation of these women. Additionally, the State should conduct investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of individuals responsible for acts of reprisal and assaults against the women human rights defenders and activists, even if the perpetrators are state agents.

Safe Return of Stateless Women Defenders

In its observations, the Committee also requests the repeal of Law 1145 or the “Special Law Regulating the Loss of Nicaraguan Nationality,” which provides that persons sentenced under Law 1055, the “Law for the Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-Determination for Peace” will lose their Nicaraguan nationality and has left more than 317 persons stateless. This includes women political prisoners, renowned feminist and women’s rights defenders and activists, and journalists.

The Committee concluded that the State of Nicaragua should restore nationality in all instances where women have lost it for political reasons and implement measures to reduce cases of statelessness (1961) in accordance with Article 9 of the Convention, prevent statelessness, and formulate a plan to facilitate the secure return of Nicaraguan women desiring to come back to the country. 

Justice for Victims of Gender-Based Violence and Mothers of Victims of Repression

Between 2018 and 2021, the number of femicides rose to 57 cases, with 220 cases of attempted femicides. These statistics deeply concerned the Committee, which repeatedly highlighted the restrictive definition of femicide in the Penal Code as problematic, as it applies solely to murders of women within relationship contexts.

The Committee also expressed with concern the closure of the National Commission to Combat Violence and the lack of information on the number and enforcement of protection orders and victim support services, including shelter, psychosocial counselling, and rehabilitation for women survivors of violence.

In response, the Committee called on the State to: broaden the definition of femicide to encompass all gender-related murders; implement a national strategy for the prevention of all forms of gender-based violence against women; restore and strengthen the mandate of the National Commission to Combat Violence; and compile data on the prevalence of gender-based violence against women, disaggregated by age, victim-perpetrator ratios, and other socio-demographic characteristics.

The Committee also demanded that perpetrators of gender-based violence against human rights defenders, journalists, women detained during the 2018 protests, and mothers of fatal victims of protest-related repression be properly prosecuted and convicted. It emphasized the importance of providing adequate remedies, including reparations, to the victims.

Laws that Address Intersectional Forms of Discrimination

Furthermore, the Committee expressed concern about the intersecting forms of discrimination faced by Indigenous and Afro-descendant women in Nicaragua, who encounter limited access to education, employment, economic opportunities, healthcare, and participation in decision-making processes within the State. These challenges are compounded by a heightened risk of gender-based violence, including sexual violence and forced evictions of Indigenous women, particularly in territories such as the Bosawás Reserve and the Mayagna Sauni As Indigenous territory, which frequently experience incursions by non-Indigenous settlers.

In this regard, the Committee urged the State to develop legislation and policies addressing intersectional forms of discrimination against Indigenous and Afro-descendant women and girls. Additionally, it called for effective investigations, prosecutions, and penalties for crimes occurring in ancestral territories, along with the provision of appropriate remedies and reparations for victims. 

The Committee stressed the importance of ensuring that Indigenous women obtain land titles and collective control over the land, water, forests, fisheries, aquaculture, and other resources they have owned, occupied, used or acquired.

Pronouncement

The Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) reminds the State of Nicaragua that the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women entails the obligation to submit reports, participate in constructive dialogues with the CEDAW Committee and comply with the recommendations made by the Committee. Therefore, we urge the State to comply with the recommendations made and to establish communications with the Committee in favor of the protection of women and girls and halt the repression and violence against women defenders, activists, and journalists expressing dissenting opinions. 

Lastly, Race and Equality acknowledges the invaluable role played by Nicaraguan civil society organizations that, despite significant risks, continue to monitor and document the human rights situation of Nicaraguan women inside and outside the country. Their dedication and reporting significantly contributed to this review and the formulation of valuable Concluding Observations, which serve a roadmap for the State of Nicaragua to fulfill its obligations outlined in CEDAW.

CEDAW: Laws Enacted by the Nicaraguan State Threaten Women’s Lives

Washington D.C., October 24, 2023- In the review of the State of Nicaragua, experts from the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), expressed their concern about laws that pose serious threats against women human rights defenders and activists, as well as the neglect of Indigenous and Afro-descendant women on the Caribbean Coast, in the context of the closure of civic and democratic space in the Central American country. 

At the beginning of the session, the representative of the State of Nicaragua, Rosalía Concepción Bohórquez Palacios, abandoned the exam in a disrespectful manner. She expressed “total rejection of the malicious, biased, partialized and malicious questions on the report presented by Nicaragua on May 2, 2019.” 

This is the fifth time that Nicaragua has failed to comply with its obligation to actively participate in the periodic reviews carried out by the United Nations treaty bodies for the promotion and defense of human rights in the signatory countries. The Chair of the Committee, Ana Peláez, regretted the State’s position, “however, the work that the Committee has and the obligations and responsibilities that they assume in relation to the States Parties, makes us continue to advance in today’s work.” 

Law 1055: The Law with the Most Effects on Women 

The Committee’s Rapporteur for Nicaragua, Leticia Bonifaz Alonzo, expressed her deep concern that in the Central American country “femicide is not an autonomous crime.” The reforms limit the definition of femicide to the murder of women in the context of a relationship. It is also a matter of concern that victim-aggressor mediation has been incorporated, which increases the risk of impunity and exposes victims to re-victimization and reprisals.

“The figures provided by non-governmental organizations show how violence against women has increased,” she added. 

She then recalled that, between 2020 and 2021, the State issued three laws with content contrary to international human rights instruments:  Law 1040, Law on Foreign Agents which, with the indication that “they have interference in internal affairs,” has made it impossible for non-governmental organizations to accompany, protect and empower Nicaraguan women,  as well as the deprivation of their patrimony and forced abandonment of the country.  Law 1042, known as the “Gag Law” because it violates the freedom of expression of women human rights defenders;  and Law 1055 “Law for the Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-Determination for Peace,” has seriously affected the civil and political rights of women. According to the expert, Law 1055 is the law that has most affected women human rights defenders.

In addition, “there are particular patterns of aggression against women, such as arrests and theft of personal items and the disproportionate presence of members of the armed forces,” Bonifaz said.

Arbitrary Detentions and Statelessness, Latent Threats to Women Defenders

“Women’s participation has been restricted due to gender-based violence against women human rights defenders. Women defenders are under siege in the State party,” warned expert Marion Bethel. In the last four years, women’s rights organizations have documented approximately 7,000 cases of attacks against women human rights defenders.

In addition, women’s human rights defenders and activists who oppose the government face possible loss of nationality in retaliation, leaving them in a situation of statelessness, a condition that hinders the exercise of other rights such as health, education, decent employment and family life. 

“The State party (Nicaragua), through legislative amendments, has arbitrarily deprived some persons of their nationality, and this is contrary to international human rights law,” he told the Committee. 

According to alternative reports from 2023, around 222 people who are stateless are mothers and fathers of children who continue to live in Nicaragua. For the expert, this violation of fundamental rights puts them at greater risk of discrimination and “exacerbates the vulnerability of women and girls who may already be exposed to gender-based violence and human trafficking.” 

Indigenous and Afro-descendant Women in the Absence of Protection

“Violence against women in the autonomous regions along the North and South Caribbean Coast continues to increase, particularly in the case of indigenous women who have legal provisions and protection orders,” said expert Rangita de Silva de Alwis

In August 2021, two women were sexually abused in an attack related to a gold mining dispute in the Mayangna Sauni As territory.

Expert Bandana Rana emphasized the determined struggle of Afro-descendant women as they confront challenges related to the preservation and respect of the treaty that grants them the right to inhabit their ancestral lands, preserving their unique customs and resources. The expert lamented that the incursions of third parties in the Mosquitia have worsened the human rights situation of Afro-descendant women, since “violence is committed against women, girls and adolescents, which includes murders and forced displacement.” 

In relation to health on the Caribbean Coast, expert Dafna Hacker said that “there is a gap between the law and reality,” since in general terms, there is a lack of health services that impacts especially women “due to a high prevalence of malaria, fever, dengue, HIV/AIDS, as well as the remoteness of care centers and the high costs of transportation.”

On several occasions, the Chairperson of the Committee called on the State of Nicaragua to express its point of view on the issues. Nonetheless, an unsettling silence prevailed in all of them. 

Finally, the Chair expressed her deep disappointment and concern over the accusations made by the State in relation to the work of the Committee and its experts “which call into question the loyalty, honor, impartiality, true commitment, and full awareness that all the experts of this Committee make when they assume their responsibilities and duties”. Despite these insults, the President insisted that they are willing to “extend their hand” and “open the doors” to the State of Nicaragua.

Pronouncement 

The Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) rejects the position of the State of Nicaragua, which disrespects the work of the Committee and the civil society organizations that exercise their legitimate right to participate in this process. Both with respect to the Committee and with respect to the organizations, the State refers in disqualifying and inappropriate terms, completely refusing to be held accountable for its actions and seeking to circumvent its international obligations towards women. 

This pattern of non-compliance by the State of Nicaragua with its international obligations in the area of women’s human rights undoubtedly requires a forceful response from the international community.

***

The committee will submit its concluding observations before the end of the current session. The concluding observations will be adopted at the 87th session in February 2024.

Lesbian Rebellions: advances and setbacks in the rights of lesbians

Washington, 13 October 2023.- The Day of Lesbian Feminist Rebellions in Latin America and the Caribbean is not a day created by the United Nations. Born in 2007, following an accord adopted at the 7th Meeting of Lesbian Feminists of Latin America and the Caribbean (ELFLAC), in which around 200 lesbian feminists from across the region participated, delegates chose October 13th to commemorate the first Regional Meeting of Lesbian Feminists of 1987 in Mexico, the first lesbian assembly with a public presence. [1]

Since then, several countries in the region have developed different political and cultural actions promoted by lesbian feminists in favor of visibility and against discrimination. Their advocacy has also brought about legislative and regulatory advances in human rights; however, there has been more progress in some countries than in others.

For example, in Nicaragua there are no laws that protect the LGBTI+ population, much less lesbians specifically. “It is difficult to think of setbacks with respect to lesbian rights in a country where there has almost never been progress,” says Nicaraguan activist Tania Irías, of the Grupo Lésbico Feminista Artemisa, a collective that has been providing spaces for reflection, acceptance, and non-discrimination to young lesbian women in Nicaragua since 2006.

For Irías, the greatest setbacks in the lesbian struggle are linked to the organizational disarticulation caused by “state repression and the establishment of a dictatorship that, as a repressive strategy, has undermined the process of articulation, demand, and visibility of lesbians as political bodies with rights”.

However, in this context of dictatorship, in the “allied” spaces, the struggle for lesbian rights is also usually relegated. “We are not a priority, and we are always being asked to leave the visible struggle to others,” explains Irías, who also assures that as a movement they are clear about the need to continue to occupy their spaces of visibility and to continue joining “with those who join us and making efforts, because it will be difficult for us we don’t,” Irías emphasizes.

In contrast, other countries have made significant progress in the recognition of LGBTI+ rights. In Cuba, for example, with the approval of the Family Code in 2022, several rights that favor lesbian couples were included, such as equal marriage, assisted reproduction, and adoption. On September 28 of this year, Decree 96, an action protocol that prevents and addresses harassment and discrimination for reasons of sexual orientation, gender identity, among others, in the workplace, also came into force. Despite this, in real life the changes are not so evident. “In Cuba, sexist and patriarchal thoughts and attitudes continue to hold sway, which is why lesbian women continue to be victims of hatred and discrimination. We are frowned upon in the street, we are offended and insulted,” says Irina León Valladares, Cuban activist and member of the Latin American Federation of Rural Women (FLAMUR).

In the same vein, Annery Rivera Velasco, independent journalist, and Cuban activist mentioned that “the setbacks –that are more like the normal state of affairs—are social characteristics, as it is part of our sexist and patriarchal society.” Additionally, she said that in Cuba a lesbian movement does not exist due to disarticulation, since Cuban authorities criminalize people who work for the defense of human rights.

Colombia also has broad legal protections for lesbians. Its Constitutional Court has granted transcendental protections, one of them being the historic recognition of LGBTI+ people in the peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Likewise, the Constitutional Court ruled in 2016 in favor of same-sex marriage.

However, there is still much work to be done so that norms are translated into actions, especially “in relation to reproductive rights, the right to life due to the rise in corrective rape and lesbofeminicide. In addition, discrimination and/or harassment at work due to lesbian sexual orientation,” said Sami Arizabaleta, activist, and director of the Afrodescendent Foundation for Social and Sexual Diversities (Somos Identidad).

“As a lesbian movement we are politically influencing the updating of the LGBTQI policy, with recognition of intersectional lesbian contexts. The strategies are diverse from the regional and social contexts, but in general terms we are advancing in organizational strengthening, political advocacy from the enforceability of rights, denunciations, and dialogue for the adoption of measures,” shares Sami.

In the case of Peru, a country mired in a deep political, social, and institutional crisis, the illegitimacy of the government and the Congress of the Republic prevails. According to the last poll by the Institute of Peruvian Statistics (IEP), around 80% of the population demands the resignation of the president of the Republic, Dina Boluarte, the closure of Congress and new elections.

Both the legislative and executive branches of government have promoted initiatives against the rights of lesbians, LGBTI+ people, women, children, and adolescents. In addition, several congressional members have presented various bills seeking Peru’s withdrawal from the Pact of San José. “The rights of lesbians have been completely ignored by the current government of Dina Boluarte and the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP),” says Gabriela Zavaleta, lesbian feminist activist and advocacy coordinator of Más Igualdad.

She also mentions that the Working Group for the Promotion of Lesbian Rights of the MIMP has been deactivated and that for more than 5 years the approval of the investigation on the situation of lesbian rights in Peru has been postponed. “Only civil society organizations are resisting this situation, promoting the national and international articulation of lesbian organizations, carrying out advocacy actions before the CEDAW Committee for a general recommendation on lesbian rights, systematizing the proposals and demands of the organizations, and making efforts to unite lesbian organizations in a regional agenda that serves as a tool for advocacy with the different States and relevant institutions”, she indicates.

In general, various countries in Latin America have achieved significant legislative advances in the recognition of LGBTI+ rights. However, much work remains to guarantee that these rights are fully recognized and respected.

In light of this, Race and Equality highlights some recommendations for States in order to protect the rights of lesbians.

  • Guarantee the right to family and civil rights for lesbians through legal recognition of lesbian mothers and diverse families.
  • Guarantee access to equal marriage and keep unrestricted respect for rights acquired abroad.
  • Develop mechanisms to avoid the criminalization of lesbian mothers in child custody proceedings.
  • Strengthen training programs for State officials in order to guarantee the dignified treatment of lesbians in public services.
  • Implement Comprehensive Sexual Education policies that guarantee respect for sexual diversity.
  • Record, document, and analyze violence against lesbians to formulate policies that respond to their needs.
  • Guarantee access to justice andnvestigate and punish discrimination and crimes committed against lesbians.
  • Promote the access of lesbians to political spaces and positions of power in order to guarantee the right to political participation without violence and the representation of identities.
  • Implement programs of attention and containment for cases of violence due to prejudice inside and outside the home.

[1] Ochy Curiel (2007). Un encuentro trascendente e histórico. Available at: https://rebelion.org/un-encuentro-trascendente-e-historico/

Tweets for the Sakharov Prize to Vilma Núñez and Monsignor Álvarez, Resistance Symbols in Nicaragua

Washington D.C., October 10th, 2023.- The European Parliament nominated human rights defenders, Vilma Núñez de Escorcia and Monsignor Rolando José Álvarez Lagos for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Conscience 2023. The Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race and Equality) invites you to tweet so that members of the European Parliament vote in favor of this joint candidacy next Thursday, October 12. Their votes will be an act of recognition of the courageous struggle and sacrifice of Nicaraguan human rights defenders who, despite the serious risks to their lives, continue to work to restore democracy and the rule of law. 

Vilma Nuñez de Escorcia began her work in the defense of human rights at a young age, joining the First Student Committee for the freedom of university student political prisoners under the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza Garcia, standing out in the student struggles of that time. She was the first Nicaraguan female appointed Magister Vice President of the Supreme Court of Justice in 1979, and for 33 years she has been the cofounder and president of the Center for Nicaraguan Human Rights (CENIDH), an organization that has reported, denounced, and accompanied multiple victims of the Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo regime. Currently Núñez is in Nicaragua, stripped of her nationality and civil rights, and exposed to serious human rights violations.

Monsignor Rolando Álvarez is the Bishop of the Matagalpa Diocese and the Secretary of the Estelí Diocese. Álvarez is considered “the most solid symbol of resilience that Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo face”, because for years he has been one of the most critical voices regarding the situation in Nicaragua and had a prominent role in the mediation carried out by the Episcopal Conference during the dialogue after massive peaceful protests that occurred in April 2018. 

Subsequently, in August 2022, the Ortega regime ordered the house arrest of Monsignor Álvarez for “conspiracy to undermine national integrity and spread false news;” and in February 2023 ordered his exile among 222 political prisoners, however he refused to leave. Currently, Monsignor Álvarez is serving a 26-year prison sentence for committing crimes considered “treason to the homeland,” in a situation of statelessness and under isolation in the Jorge Navarro Punitory Complex (La Modelo) in Tipitapa, Managua. 

 

Pronouncement 

From Race and Equality we recognize that the European Parliament has been a great ally of the Ncaraguan people. In recent years, Parliament has adopted important Resolutions condemning the continuous deterioration of the human rights situation in Nicaragua, the escalation of repression and the systemic human rights violations and Nicaraguans’ fundamental liberties. 

In a context of crimes against humanity that remain under impunity, the Sakharov Prize 2023 is a unique opportunity to shed light upon and recognize the work that, despite the exile, jail, and other threats, human rights defenders do in search for the truth, justice, and reparation for the victims.    

We invite civil society organizations, allies, journalists, and followers to echo the candidacy of Vilma Núñez and Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, using the hashtags #NicaraguaInSakharovPrize and  #SakharovPrize, and tagging  members of the European Parliament this upcoming October 11, 2023  starting at 9am Nicaragua (11 am Washington, D.C.).

 

Tweet model 1:

#NicaraguaInSakharovPrize🇪🇺🏆 Vilma Núñez de Escorcia and Monsignor Rolando José Álvarez Lagos are symbols of determination, resilience and tenacity in the struggle for the defense of HRs in Nicaragua. 

Vote in favor of their candidacy to #SakharovPrize (tag members of the European Parliament)

Tweet model 2:

#NicaraguaInSakharovPrize🇪🇺📢 Vilma Núñez (@cenidh) and Monseñor Álvarez are human rights defenders who are in a situation of  statelessness  in Nicaragua, under terrible risks. 

We encourage members of the Euoropean Parliament to vote 👍 for this candidacy for the #SakharovPrize 2023.

 

Tag:

@Europarl_ES

@Europarl_EN

@LeopoldoLopezG

@TonoEPP

@toni_comin

@MonicaSilvanaG

@JFLopezAguilar

@czorrinho

@FMCastaldo

@PacoMillanMon

@NachoSAmor

@nugarci1

@PedroMarquesMEP

Human rights violations of people arbitrarily deprived of their liberty for political motives in Nicaragua

The Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race and Equality) prepared this policy paper with the aim of analyzing the situation of people who were deprived of their liberty since May 2021 in Nicaragua, and the strategies that the Nicaraguan state has used to criminalize them. Likewise, this report presents a proposal of guidelines to determine in which cases there is a situation of arbitrary deprivation of liberty for political reasons, and a brief overview of the approach and role of international human rights bodies to contribute to the enforced protection required by people who are arbitrarily deprived of their liberty for political reasons.

Since 2018, the authoritarian Ortega and Murillo regime has resorted, in a systemic and generalized manner, to the detention and arbitrary deprivation of liberty for political motives. In the last quarter of 2020, the regime perfected its mechanisms with the approval of a series of laws to restrict the civic space and the advocacy capacity of non-governmental organizations (NGO); however, according to information gathered, it was until May 2021 that, in the pre-elections context, the regime initiated a new wave of repression characterized by arbitrarily detaining those who projected themselves as potential candidates to the presidency of the Republic, and by using these laws to criminalize them.

Subsequently, this wave of detentions extended to other sectors of the population such as: journalists, representatives of the private sector, human rights defenders, rural and farmer leaders, and political leaders; and in February 2023 more than 235 people were deprived of their liberty for political reasons in detention centers in Nicaragua, in conditions that constituted ill-treatment, torture, and crimes against humanity. Out of that number, at least 30 were women who suffered violations and different impacts based on gender, among which are: prolonged isolation in cells which are completely sealed, the denial of visits and letters from their sons and daughters, among others. 

On February 9, 2023, 222 of the people who were deprived of their liberty were released and presented with the dilemma of having to choose between prison or exile to the United States. Yet, violations against their human rights did not end there; subsequently these people were stripped of their Nicaraguan nationality and civil rights perpetually, and arbitrary detentions have not ceased.

For Race and Equality it is of special importance that all these people are recognized as persons arbitrarily deprived of liberty for political reasons, when they have been criminalized under vague and imprecise laws that make it impossible to invoke any legal base that justifies the deprivation of liberty; for the exercise of rights or freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; for discrimination based on political opinions; and/or with total or partial non-observance of international norms related to the right to a fair trial is of such seriousness that it confers the deprivation of liberty arbitrary in nature. These are the four applicable categories of the five categories that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGDA) uses to determine the arbitrariness of detentions in United Nations member countries, confirming the existence of this pattern in Nicaragua.

The profound level of cruelty from the regime against political prisoners is also worrying.  President Ortega has insulted and discredited them publicly on repeated occasions; they were kept in a situation of enforced disappearance for a long period of time; and the conditions of deprivation of liberty were and continue to be much more severe than those of common prisoners.

 Race and Equality found that the most frequently charged crimes between May 2021 and February 2023 were treason, conspiracy to undermine national integrity, and spreading misinformation.

Finally, Race and Equality concluded that the Nicaraguan regime has committed systematic and widespread violations of human rights that include crimes against humanity towards a specific group of civil society. These crimes remain in absolute impunity and therefore establishing a mechanism to investigate, judge, and sanction all those responsible is urgent.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on what was previously presented in this policy paper, Race and Equality formulated a series of key recommendations for the Nicaraguan State, the mechanisms of protection of human rights, and the States. The purpose of these recommendations is to guide strategic litigation in favor of the release of those arbitrarily deprived of liberty for political reasons, as well as to promote the adoption of reparation and non-repetition measures, and advocacy in favor of the recognition of their vulnerable situation.

 To the State of Nicaragua, which has obligations under international law to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights, we recommend:

  • Abandon the pattern of arbitrary arrests.
  • Immediately release the more than 64 people who are still deprived of their liberty (numbers updated June 19th, according to the Mechanism for the Recognition of Political Prisoners)
  • Investigate those responsible for human rights violations towards those arbitrarily deprived of their liberty for political reasons.
  • Implement the recommendations resulting from the review of the status of compliance with the obligations of the Committee Against Torture, Human Rights Committee, the Universal Periodic Review carried out by Nicaragua in 2019, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and other United Nations Special Procedures.
  • Take into consideration the measures at their reach to eliminate arbitrary imprisonment for political reasons and adopt indispensable guarantees to prevent these events from happening again.
  • Close legal cases against people arbitrarily deprived of their liberty for political reasons, proceeding to eliminate criminal records.
  • Guarantee justice and reparation for people who are arbitrarily deprived of their liberty for political reasons, recognizing publicly that those deprived of their liberty for political reasons suffered unjust imprisonment for exercising their right to freedom of expression and universally recognized human rights.
  • Abolish the Special Law Regulating the Loss of Nicaraguan Nationality and the initiative for a Law to reform Article 21 of the Political Constitution of Nicaragua, approved in the first legislature, which expresses that those who commit treason lose their Nicaraguan nationality.

To the human rights protection mechanisms, which monitor and cooperate with the fulfillment of the obligations and commitments accepted by the States, derived from treaties and other international human rights instruments, we recommend:

  • Continue demanding the immediate release of the more than 64 people who are still arbitrarily deprived of their liberty (numbers updated June 19th, according to the Mechanism for the Recognition of Political Prisoners)
  • Recognize as torture the treatment people arbitrarily deprived of liberty for political received (and some continue receiving) while they remained in state custody.
  • Recognize as crimes against humanity the events described in this report, in particular, the arbitrary detention for political reasons, temporary forced disappearance, acts of torture, and forced disappearance that political prisoners were subjected to by the State of Nicaragua.
  • Advance quickly in the cases and individual petitions that have been presented before the different bodies, in order to establish the State of Nicaragua’s international responsibility and advance in the victims’ fundamental reparation, including the establishment of guarantees of non-repetition.

To the states, by virtue of the collective guarantee of human rights, we recommend:

  • Generate strategies to require Nicaragua to comply with its international obligations.
  • Develop mechanisms to protect the exiled political prisoners of Nicaragua, including granting nationality to those who are stateless.

Inter-American Forum against Discrimination celebrated the 10th anniversary of CIRDI and CIDI within the framework of the OAS General Assembly

Washington D.C., June 20, 2023 – The Inter-American Forum against Discrimination, an annual event organized by the International Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race and Equality), took place during the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS). It brought together representatives from the governments of the United States and Brazil, as well as experts and Afro-descendant, indigenous, and LGBTI+ leaders from the region, for an effective dialogue on racial discrimination in the Americas.

This year, the Forum’s theme was the “Tenth Anniversary of the Adoption of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) and the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance (CIDI),” which was held at the iconic National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington D.C.

Carlos Quesada, Executive Director of Race and Equality, highlighted in his welcome speech that the CIRDI is a Convention that broadly addresses racial discrimination, serving not only Afro-descendant peoples but also indigenous peoples and Romani communities.

The first panel, “The Historical Debt: State Responsibility towards the CIRDI and the CIDI,” featured the participation of Joy-Dee Davis Lake, Counselor Minister of the OAS Embassy and Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda. In her remarks, the Minister emphasized the importance of building a better world for diversity, free from discrimination, where every individual can fulfill their full potential. This panel also included Luz Elena Baños Rivas, Ambassador of the OAS Permanent Mission in Mexico, who could not attend in person but sent her message calling for commitment and strengthening of the CIRDI to OAS Member States.

Moderated by Carlos Quesada, the second panel, “International Efforts to Combat Racial and Ethnic Discrimination,” featured the contributions of Margarette May Macaulay, President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH); Desirée Cormier-Smith, Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice (SRREJ) of the U.S. Department of State, and Symmy Larrat, National Secretary for LGBTQIA+ Rights of the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship of Brazil.

“It is necessary to pay attention to racial representation in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) and in the United Nations Secretariat. Additionally, I call on government ministers and political parties to reflect on their resistance and inaction regarding the approval of the CIRDI by OAS Member States,” stated Margarette May Macaulay.

“We must commit to keeping the window of racial and social justice open. It is our responsibility to prevent this window from closing,” emphasized Desirée Cormier-Smith, urging all Afro-descendant individuals to empower themselves and influence their governments to build an antiracist democracy.

In her speech, Symmy Larrat celebrated the reestablishment of the LGBTI Popular Participation Council and announced the creation of a Working Group on ‘Memory and Truth,’ which will include experts and members of civil society to implement public policies addressing the historical reparation of the LGBTI population. “It is a challenge to strengthen LGBTI social movements with such a conservative congress. We won the elections, but we didn’t win the fascist wave,” she said.

Afro-descendant and indigenous leaders from civil society in Latin America shared their experiences in the panel titled Regional Experiences: Inclusion as a Tool to Strengthen Diverse Voices.” Moderated by Cecilia Ramírez, Executive Director of the Center for the Development of Afro-Peruvian Women (CEDEMUNEP), the dialogue included participants such as Maurício Yek’uana, Director of Hutukara Yanomami Association, who drew attention to the advance of drug trafficking in the countries bordering Yanomami indigenous lands in Brazil. “In addition to the miners we have been denouncing for years, criminal factions are arriving, and the government’s action is still insufficient to contain the invaders in the region,” stated Maurício Yek’uana. Adailton Moreira, Babalorixá Ilê Axé Omiojuarô, denounced religious racism and the State’s consent due to the lack of public policies that could curb violence against African-origin religions.

Representing the LGBTI agenda, the panel included Sandra Milena Arizabaleta, Legal Representative of the Afro-descendant Foundation for Social and Sexual Diversity (SOMOS IDENTIDAD) from Colombia, and Yader de los Ángeles Parajón Gutiérrez, an LGBT activist and member of the Mothers of April Association and the Unamos Party from Nicaragua.

Education and political will for anti-fascism are necessary for real inclusion. Authorities must bridge the gap between activism and the government,” expressed Sandra Milena Arizabaleta.

Yader de los Ángeles Parajón concluded, “Nicaragua owes a debt to gender identity. The violence generated by the dictatorship permeates all levels and remains silent. Many activists are persecuted. In this system, they no longer live, but they survive.” The panel also featured Wendy Geraldina López Rosales, an indigenous Guatemalan member and lawyer of the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala (UDEFEGUA), and Cuban activist Jorge Luis García Pérez, who called for an effective alliance for the rights of their peoples.

The Guatemalan state issues arrest warrants against indigenous peoples, criminalizing them and subjecting them to inhumane treatment. They treat us as invaders, but no one can be an invader of land that historically belongs to them,” warned Wendy López.

I am a former political prisoner of Castro’s regime. My family is also a victim of fierce persecution because we are Black, because we are opponents. The dictatorship does not tolerate any form of faith either,” said Jorge Luis García Pérez, pointing out that religious persecution based on racial discrimination also exists in Cuba.

The last panel, “Coalition of Afro-descendants of the Americas and the 53rd Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly,” moderated by Elvia Duque, Senior Officer of the Race and Equality Program on Race and Ethnicity, provided the audience with a deeper understanding of the 53rd OAS General Assembly. It featured Paulina Corominas, Director of the Office of Civil Society of the Department of International Relations of the OAS, and Rosa Castro from the Association of Women of the Oaxaca Coast and Coordinator of the Afro-descendant Coalition of the Americas at the 53rd OAS General Assembly.

Paulina Corominas explained that there are 34 thematic coalitions formed within the 53rd OAS General Assembly, and on June 21, a dialogue would take place between OAS representatives and civil society. Rosa Castro highlighted some of the demands of the Afro-descendant Coalition of the Americas, which include a high-level meeting for the 10th anniversary of the CIRDI and an agenda that considers a fund for Afro-descendants.

Based on the diverse voices that resonated with the different realities and contexts of Afro-descendant, indigenous, and LGBTI peoples in Latin America, Race and Equality issued a call for unity in the Americas in the fight against racism and racial discrimination. With the CIRDI as the motto for an effective plan for its implementation by all OAS Member States by 2024, the alliance continues to support and empower civil society organizations to occupy these strategic spaces such as the Inter-American Forum against Discrimination.

Missed the event? Relive it through this link: fb.watch/lhnPl8jt7F/

Learn about our CIRDI 2024 campaign! https://cirdi2024.org/en/

At OAS Assembly: Race and Equality to Commemorate 10th Anniversary of CIRDI and Denounce Human Rights Violations in Cuba and Religious Persecution in Nicaragua

Washington D.C., June 14, 2023 – On the occasion of the 53rd session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) will hold three parallel events. In the first event, the organization will commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Intolerance (CIRDI) and promote its signature, ratification and implementation. The second event will denounce human rights violations in Cuba; and the third will demand that the Nicaraguan regime cease the persecution of religious leaders and release all persons deprived of their liberty for political reasons.

The OAS General Assembly will be held June 21-23, 2023 at OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C., under the theme “strengthening a culture of democratic accountability with promotion, protection and equality of human rights in the Americas.” In this sense, the Race and Equality events aim to encourage OAS Member States to take action to combat impunity, promote inclusive and sustainable peace and a democratic transition in the region.

Inter-American Forum Against Discrimination: Tenth Anniversary of CIRDI and CIDI

Race and Equality, as part of its ongoing advocacy work on behalf of the rights of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples, will bring together renowned representatives of the OAS and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the governments of the United States and Brazil, and civil society leaders from Latin America at the Inter-American Forum against Discrimination: “Tenth Anniversary of the Adoption of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) and the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance (CIDI)” on June 20, 2023.

The Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) was approved by the OAS General Assembly on June 5, 2013, after thirteen years of advocacy by Race and Equality and other ethnic civil society organizations. This is an instrument that consolidates the commitment of States to the total eradication of these scourges; however, of the 35 member States of the OAS, only 6 States are party to CIRDI, only 7 have signed it, and 29 have not signed, ratified, or implemented it.

In this sense, the Forum will be divided into thematic panels on the historical debt and the responsibility of the States before the CIRDI and CIDI treaties, international efforts to combat racial and ethnic discrimination, and towards LGBTI+ people; as well as the participation of civil society leaders, regional experiences, and inclusion as a tool to strengthen diverse voices. Finally, there will be a dialogue on the coalition of Afro-descendants of the Americas and the 53rd regular session of the OAS General Assembly.

Cuba: At Pen Point

In order to continue denouncing the serious human rights violations in Cuba, particularly the cases of harassment against activists and human rights defenders, Race and Equality invites you on June 20 to the art exhibition “At Pen Point,” an exhibition co-organized with the platform El Toque, which brings together a selection of 20 cartoons and vignettes by Cuban artists who traverse with humor, nonchalance, and wit several transcendental socio-political events of recent years on the island.

In Cuba, as of May 31, there were 1,880 people deprived of liberty for political reasons, according to the 11J Justice working group, which has also documented that 773 people continue to be imprisoned for having participated in the peaceful protests of July 2021, the most massive in the last decade. Parallel to these human rights violations, there are already 38 cases of femicides on the island, a figure that exceeds the annual record for the year 2022. 

In this regard, the opening of “At Pen Point” will be accompanied by a discussion entitled ‘Graphic humor, art, and satire in the face of social protests and the human rights crisis in Cuba’, with the participation of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR, Pedro Vaca; the editor of El Toque, José Nieves; the Cuban visual artist and columnist, Camila Lobón; and the Cuban independent journalist, Orelvys Cabrera.

Nicaragua’s Crisis: A Threat to Democracy Throughout the Region

Finally, to reflect on Nicaragua’s deepening socio-political and human rights crisis and how this country is setting a standard for democratic setbacks in the region, Race and Equality – in coordination with the Legal Defense Unit (UDJ) – will hold the event “Nicaragua’s Crisis: A Threat to Democracy Throughout the Region” on June 22.

Five years after the start of the peaceful protests of April 2018, 355 murders of protesters continue in impunity, more than 47 people remain deprived of liberty for political reasons in Nicaraguan prisons, at least 2,090 people have been arbitrarily detained, more than 320 people have been stripped of their nationality, and the repression is at a stage characterized by the persecution and criminalization of the Catholic Church and restrictions on religious freedom.

Given this context, in the first part of the event, legal experts will discuss the repressive patterns against people considered opponents and against the Church; and in the second part, victims of the regime and representatives of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will discuss arbitrary imprisonment for political reasons and other reprisals against those who exercise their fundamental freedoms.

*** More information about the events ***

Inter-American Forum against Discrimination

Date: Tuesday, June 20, at 9:00 am

Venue: National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), Washington D.C.

Live: via Zoom and Facebook Live 

On-site registration here

Simultaneous translation in Spanish, Portuguese and English. 

Cuba: At Pen Point

Date: Tuesday, June 20, at 6:30 pm

Venue: National Press Club, Washington D.C.

Live Broadcast: Zoom and Facebook Live 

On-site registration here (R.S.V.P.)

Simultaneous translation in Spanish and English. 

Nicaragua’s Crisis: A Threat to Democracy Throughout the Region

Date: Thursday, June 22, at 5:30 pm.

Venue: National Press Club, Washington D.C.

Live Broadcast: Zoom and Facebook Live 

On-site registration here (R.S.V.P.)

Simultaneous translation in Spanish and English.



Day against LGBTI+phobia: Celebrating advancements and achievements in Human Rights

Washington D.C., May 17, 2023 – Since 2004, every May 17th serves as a reminder that the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), a significant step towards the depathologization of LGBTI+ identities. Therefore, on this International Day Against LGBTI+phobia, the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) commemorates the right to live free from violence, with dignity, celebrating who we are, and the achievements made by LGBTI+ persons in favor of human rights.

The struggle for equality and human rights for LGBTI+ persons has achieved significant advancements in many parts of the world, and it is important to recognize the efforts and relentless advocacy behind these achievements. From Race and Equality, we highlight some of the accomplishments from the past year in the region.

In Colombia, the Truth Commission (CEV) incorporated a gender perspective to analyze the disproportionate impact of the armed conflict on the lives of LGBTI+ persons. This serves as an important reference for other Latin American countries that have experienced similar armed conflicts but did not adequately consider the rights of LGBTI+ persons in their peace processes. Such advancements provide a starting point to clarify patterns of violence and subsequently advocate for state recognition, reparation, and accountability measures for perpetrators.

Furthermore, the Constitutional Court ordered the National Registry to include a non-binary category in identification documents. Thanks to the initiative and fight of Dani García, who requested a new document in 2019 with an “indeterminate” sex marker. The Court also instructed the Congress to regulate the rights, services, and obligations to ensure that non-binary individuals can access them. 

In Peru, for the first time, the State apologized to a transgender woman, Azul Rojas, and recognized international responsibility for violating her rights in 2008. This comes after two years of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ruling on the first case of torture due to discrimination against an LGBTI+ person in the region.

Another historic ruling from the IACHR was the recent achievement in the case of Crissthian Olivera vs. Peru, the first complaint of discrimination based on sexual orientation in the country before this international body. Both judgments by the IACHR held the Peruvian state responsible and ordered comprehensive reparations for the victims, along with a series of measures to promote equality and non-discrimination in the country.

In Brazil, the National Secretariat for LGBTQIA+ Rights was created by the government, and for the first time, a transgender person, Symmy Larrat, assumed the position. Additionally, Benny Briolly became the first transgender person to receive precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Benny Briolly, a black transgender councilwoman, received these measures due to being in a situation of gravity and urgency, at risk of irreparable harm to her rights based on her gender identity, her work in politics, and as a human rights defender.

In Nicaragua, despite an authoritarian regime and a context of censorship, civil society created and maintains the Observatory of Human Rights Violations against LGBTI+ Persons. These organizations play a fundamental role in promoting equality and visibility for the LGBTI+ community in the country.

In Cuba, the Family Code was approved, legalizing same-sex marriage and the possibility for same-sex couples to adopt.

It is crucial that we continue to promote diversity and respect for gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression, and sexual characteristics of LGBTI+ persons, and continue celebrating the achievements of civil society in favor of human rights.

To continue contributing to the recognition of LGBTI+ persons and their rights, it is urgent for states to develop measures aimed at:

  • Decriminalizing same sex relationships;
  • Enacting laws that prohibit discrimination;
  • Penalizing hate crimes committed against LGBTI+ persons;
  • Granting recognition to transgender individuals to obtain identification documents without the need to comply with abusive and stigmatizing requirements;
  • Implementing training programs for police officers, personnel in correctional facilities, teachers, social workers, caregivers, and public officials in general, to better serve the LGBTI+ community.

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