© UN Photo/Elma Okic

Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua: it will take 'many years and resources' to re-establish rule of law, respect for human rights

During an interactive dialogue with States at the Human Rights Council, the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua (GHREN) once again expressed its frustration at the lack of cooperation from the Nicaraguan authorities.

Looking at the evolution of the human rights situation in Nicaragua over the past year, the GHREN noted the worsening of the state of political freedoms in Nicaragua, reiterating that several government actions amount to crimes against humanity.

Jan Michael Simon, chair of the Group of Experts, spoke of the ‘widespread persecution of dissenting voices in the country’.

The GHREN underlined that, due to the centralisation of power at the hands of the president Daniel Ortega and vice-president Rosario Maria Murillo, the coercive environment in the country has worsened. GHREN members also discussed the clear violations to the rights to life, security and integrity of Nicaraguans, raising alarm about the following:

  • The atmosphere of impunity that has extended beyond Nicaragua’s borders
  • The extension of abuse to relatives of victims
  • The actions aimed at discouraging any effort to form an active opposition
  • The cooptation of the judiciary by the president and vice-president
  • The patterns of banishment of individuals, the stripping of their nationality, as well as the denial of entry or exit from the country, and the undermining of the livelihoods of Nicaraguans’ who have had to leave country.

The GHREN pointed to violations of the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness by the Nicaraguan State.

Discussing needs of Nicaraguans in exile, the Group of Experts recommended using the findings of their report to ensure fair and effective access to identification, referral and refugee status determination procedures, as well as to apply the broader criteria of the Cartagena Declaration.

Experts also urged that their report should be used by States in the design and development of policies on matters related to international security, finance and trade.

In response, Nicaraguan Attorney General Wendy Carolina Morales Urbina, accused the Group of Experts of lacking objectivity. The Nicaraguan regime received the backing of countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, China and Russia, which intervened to accuse the GHREN of interfering in internal affairs of other countries.

On the other hand, the European Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom expressed concern for and condemned the increasing attacks against dissidents, human rights defenders, people linked to the Catholic Church and academia, and leaders of Indigenous, Afro-descendant and rural groups.

The representatives of Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, Peru and Paraguay expressed their concerns about the deterioration of the country’s social stability, mentioning the disproportionate effect that this was having on the most vulnerable sectors of society – Indigenous, Afro-descendant and rural communities, as well as women. They also condemned the stripping of nationality from dissidents, as well as the attacks on academic freedom and the work of several members of the Catholic Church.

Human rights defender Guillermo Medrano, of the Fundación por la Libertad de Expresión y Democracia (FLED), issued a joint statement on behalf of ISHR confirming many of the GHREN’s concerns.

Medrano mentioned the repression of freedom of expression, press freedom, and the right to public information. He described the current situation in the country as ‘one of the biggest human rights crises in the world’ and called on the international community to keep supporting the demands of Nicaraguan civil society.

For its part, the Colectivo 46/2 underlined the intentions of the Nicaraguan government to strengthen its grip on power by repressing all of society. The Colectivo 46/2 appealed to the international community to remain vigilant on the situation in the country, particularly on its compliance with recommendations made by the GHREN.

The Group of Experts closed the session by insisting on the responsibility of the international community to contribute to the improvement of social and political conditions in Nicaragua, stressing the need to provide the necessary resources for the functioning of GHREN.

In its report on the human rights situation in several countries, the High Commissioner for Human Rights mentioned the disproportionate impact on women, women human rights defenders, and members of the LGBTQ+ community in Nicaragua.

The High Commissioner also condemned the increasing number of arbitrary arrests of dissidents, demanding their release and also alluding to increasing cases of displacement as a result of government actions. He also stressed the right of exiled persons to return to their country in safety and dignity, as well as the rights of those who wish to leave the country, such as the families of those in exile.

Finally, the High Commissioner recommended that States strengthen international accountability mechanisms, and that they promote international protection for Nicaraguans in exile and the close scrutiny of any aid or investment to Nicaragua.

Related articles

China: immediately release lawyer Yu Wensheng and activist Xu Yan

13 April 2024 marked one year since the Chinese authorities arbitrarily detained prominent human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng and his wife, woman defender Xu Yan. As their health steadily deteriorates, 30 rights groups and the European Union have renewed their call for their prompt release.