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28 May 2019

International organizations express concern about the grave situation of political prisoners in Nicaragua & strongly condemn the killing of Mr. Eddy Antonio Montes Praslin

Since 18 April 2018, when the political and human rights crisis began in Nicaragua, more than 700 people have been arbitrarily detained and subjected to criminal proceedings for their participation in demands for democracy demand and their work in defence of human rights, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

More than a year after the beginning of the crisis, the situation of political prisoners has seriously worsened during the time they spent in Nicaraguan prisons, due to the lack of dignified conditions, deficient medical attention, violence and acts of torture.

As a result, on May 17, the IACHR informed the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Inter-American Court) of the precariousness of the conditions in which they are detained, as well as a number of violent acts against journalists, demonstrators and human rights defenders deprived of liberty, which has occurred in several prisons. It is important to highlight the attack that took place in the Tipitapa Penitentiary Centre, known as La Modelo, one of the most serious events: on 16 May around 3 PM, several gunshots were fired, which resulted in the killing of political prisoner Eddy Antonio Montes, a Nicaraguan-American national, by the prison police. Eddy Montes was imprisoned since October 2018 for his participation in the resistance against repression by the Nicaraguan government.

Taking into account the urgency, the "extreme graveness" of the facts denounced and the need to "avoid irreparable damage to persons", as well as considering the framework of criminalization against those who participated in social protests, the Inter-American Court granted urgent protection measures in favour of 17 individuals on 21 May 2019.

In an unprecedented resolution, the Inter-American Court requested the Nicaraguan State to authorize a visit to the prisons and to verify the situation of the 17 beneficiaries who are still imprisoned. Additionally, the Inter-American Court recalled in its resolution that "the primacy of human rights in a democratic State is largely based on the respect and freedom given to human rights defenders in their work."

Despite the extremely grave situation faced by the group of 17 individuals, hundreds of people are currently imprisoned for their participation in public demonstrations or actions for the defence of democracy and human rights, as determined by the Inter-American Court.

As an International Observatory, we denounce, in spite of the unilateral releases by the Nicaraguan government, that those released continue to be subjected to criminal proceedings and remain facing different aggressions such as harassment on social media and by members of government affiliated groups on the streets, had threatening messages painted on their houses, and some re-arrest of some.

Regarding the situation, the signatory organizations

1. Welcome the emphatic response of the Inter-American Court and expect the involvement of the President, the Vice President and the Secretary of the Court in prison visits.

2. We ask the Nicaraguan authorities to authorize the Inter-American Court to visit the prisons where beneficiaries of provisional measures are incarcerated.

3. We demand the cessation of any act of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment within prisons, and that the human rights of political prisoners and their families are guaranteed, as well as the end of harassment against those released from prison.

4. We demand the cessation of criminalization, violence and harassment against those who participate in citizen protests, and the release of all political prisoners in Nicaragua.

5. We call on the international community to express solidarity and not to cease demanding guarantees on the integrity of those who fight for the restoration of democracy, human rights guarantees, and the memory, truth and justice of the thousands of victims of the current crisis in Nicaragua.


Signatory organisations:

Asociadas por lo Justo - JASS Mesoamérica
Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)
Fondo de Acción Urgente para América Latina y el Caribe (FAU-AL)
Front Line Defenders (FLD)
Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM-Defensoras)
Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race & Equality)
Plataforma Internacional Contra la Impunidad (Pi)