International organisations demand advances on the human rights situation in Nicaragua one year after the start of the crisis
San José, 24 April 2019.- Twelve months after the start of the massive citizen mobilizations in Nicaragua in favour of justice, freedom and democracy, international organizations denounce that the country remains immersed in a grave political and social crisis, which seriously affects the guarantee and fulfilling of Nicaraguans’ human rights.
April 18 marked one year since the start of a profound political and human rights crisis, unprecedented in the recent history of Nicaragua, which left a dramatic balance due to the government's strong repression of demonstrations and social demands for democracy, justice and the fulfilment of human rights.
According to information from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the crisis leaves a total of 325 people killed, to date; more than 3,000 wounded; an undetermined number of disappeared; 777 individuals arbitrarily detained and prosecuted. Of those arrested, according to civil society organizations, 230 have been released from prison and are under house arrest, while more than 500 are still being held in prisons. Additionally, more than 300 health professionals have been dismissed; 144 students of the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, UNAN) expelled; more than 70 journalists and media professionals were forced into exile; and around 62,000 Nicaraguans have been forcibly displaced in search of refuge in neighbouring countries, mainly in Costa Rica.
The seriousness of the human rights violations resulting from the actions of the security forces and paramilitary groups related to the government resulted in the perpetration of crimes against humanity in Nicaragua, according to the report of the International Group of Independent Experts. for Nicaragua (Grupo Internacional de Expertos Independientes para Nicaragua, GIEI), established by an agreement between the government of Nicaragua, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) and the Organization of American States (OAS). It is important to keep in mind that this type of crime represents the highest kind of human rights violation under international law, due to its extreme seriousness and its intentional and widespread execution against the civilian population.
One year after the beginning of the crisis and in view of the serious human rights violations that the population has been subjected to, the signatory organizations regret that the State of Nicaragua continues to repress those who demonstrate peacefully, the organizations of civil society, the media and any other social group who demands justice and democracy.
Additionally, we denounce the lack of commitment by the State with regards to its international obligations. It should be recalled that since the arrival of the IACHR and the OHCHR in the country, months after the start of the crisis, such organs faced a number of obstacles and restrictions to document the serious human rights violations and assist the State in the resulting justice processes, culminating in the expulsion of both human rights organizations from the country, and preventing the monitoring and surveillance of the human rights situation in the area.
Since then, the tireless work of organizations and human rights defenders at the local level has resisted government attempts to silence the voices of those who denounce the serious situation of human rights that Nicaragua is going through today. On the occasion of the anniversary of the start of citizen mobilizations, the international organizations that subscribe to this communication, we sympathize with the pain of all the victims of the crisis, and we convey our support in the struggle for a Nicaragua free of repression and granter of the human rights of all Nicaraguans.
Reaffirming our commitment to maintaining international scrutiny of the international actions and responsibilities of the State of Nicaragua, the signatory organizations demand the Nicaraguan government:
First: The cessation of repression and criminalization of social protest, to guarantee the life, security and integrity of the Nicaraguan population by ending the de facto state of emergency that the country is going through.
Second: The full and immediate release of all individuals imprisoned for political reasons, including the annulment of any proceedings against them, thus ensuring the cleanliness of their personal files. We also demand that the government refrains from harassing or monitoring those who are released; and to guarantee their rights to life and integrity in the face of possible aggressions.
Third: To guarantee the freedom of demonstration and peaceful assembly of the Nicaraguan population as established by the Political Constitution of Nicaragua, in accordance with its international obligations.
Fourth: Reconstitute the legal entities of civil society organizations, which were arbitrarily cancelled; as well as the devolution of their confiscated assets and properties.
Fifth: Guarantee freedom of expression through the free exercise of the press, refraining from criminalizing or persecuting journalists; restoring confiscated offices and information; and lifting the customs blockade to the printed press assets.
Sixth: To guarantee the participation and validation of the victims in each of the decisions adopted in relation to the reparation or justice processes resulting from the human rights violations committed.
Seventh: Allow the return of the IACHR’s and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ international mechanisms for the protection and guarantee of human rights.
Centro Por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)
Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF)
Front Line Defenders
Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM-Defensoras)
Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality)
Oficina en Washington para Asuntos Latinoamericanos (WOLA)
Plataforma Internacional Contra la Impunidad
Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos, Guatemala (UDEFEGUA)