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20 April 2020

Organisations denounce increased repression in Nicaragua on the anniversary of the protests initiated in April 2018

Journalists, human rights defenders, family members of victims, people released from prison and activists denounce an escalation of attacks and a police siege on the second anniversary of the serious human rights crisis in Nicaragua.

Two years after civic protests initiated on April 18, 2018, Nicaraguan social organisations report an upsurge of repression by the government and its supporters as a strategy to constrain the commemoration of the second anniversary of the mass demonstrations.

Those released from prison, relatives of victims, human rights defenders, journalists, social and human rights organisations and activists in general denounce an increase in state actions of harassment and intimidation, including siege of their homes and businesses, threats, persecution, irregular raids and illegal arrests by the police. Correspondingly, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), has received complaints about police summoning people to police stations and forcing them to sign a document agreeing to refrain from criticizing the Government and participating in acts commemorating the anniversary of the social protests.

According to information by compiled by national organisations, between the night of April 17th and the morning of April 19th, 65 incidents were reported, including physical assaults, threats, siege and attacks on homes, as well as illegal arrests. Among these, 32 attacks targeted female activists and their families, including insults and threats of a sexual nature.

One of the most worrying events was the physical assault suffered by Luis Potosme, father of the exiled independent journalist Winston Potosme, on April 17th. The journalist reported on social networks that groups linked to the government entered Mr. Potosme's home in the middle of the morning, and severely beat him, he remains hospitalized They then used his cell phone to send threatening text messages to his exiled son.

The escalation of attacks is clearly part of the government's ongoing strategy to dismantle protests that challenge the Nicaraguan government. It is worth remembering that on the eve of the mobilization convened by people critical of the Government last February, the Nicaraguan police confined opposition figures in their homes to prevent public protest.

This strategy reinforces a scenario of continuous state repression prevailing in Nicaragua since April 2018. To date, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) reported at least 328 people killed as a result of state repression, more than 2,000 injured and at least a 100,000 forcibly displaced by political violence.

Additionally, the cancellation of legal status and confiscated assets of civil and human rights organisations in December 2018 remain unrestored; and the closure and takeover of independent media outlets continues. At least 70 people remain imprisoned for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the midst of a health crisis that leaves them particularly vulnerable, as acknowledged by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the IACHR.

The signatory organisations emphatically call for the United Nations, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the international community in general, to vigilantly monitoring the human rights situation in Nicaragua, especially the repression that is taking place and is expected in the context of the second anniversary of civic protests of April 2018.

We reiterate our commitment to the legitimate fight of the Nicaraguan people for the full restoration of their rights, the search for personal freedom of people detained for political reasons and released, as well as with all the victims of serious human rights violations in their search for truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition.

Signatory organisations

  • Front Line Defenders
  • Iniciativa Nicaragüense de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos
  • Fundación Acceso
  • Amnesty International
  • WOLA, Oficina en Washington para Asuntos Latinoamericanos
  • The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race & Equality)
  • Unidad de Defensa Jurídica
  • Organización Mundial contra la Tortura
  • Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos -CENIDH
  • Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional -CEJIL
  • Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Defensoras
  • Colectivo Nicaragua Nunca Más
  • Unidad de Defensa Jurídica
  • Unión de Presas y Presos Políticos Nicaragüenses