UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is urging the government of Nicaragua to stop intimidation and harassment against civil society and the media, according to reports.
The High Commissioner’s request follows a highly contentious crackdown on anti-government protests last April, in which more than 50 people were killed. And in May, during the Nicaraguan Mother’s Day, 16 more people were killed in protests.
The Latin American Network for Democracy, the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy, the Citizen Forum of the Americas, and the International Steering Committee of Civil Society of the Community of Democracies condemn direct attacks made against Nicaraguan civil society organizations, social actors, and independent media by the government of Daniel Ortega.
Over the last few days, the National Assembly of Nicaragua has cancelled the legal registration of several prominent civil society organizations that work to strengthen democracy and human rights, and that have also been critical of Ortega’s government. On December 14, 2018, several of the targeted organizations, along with media outlet Confidencial, reported illegal raids without a warrant by State Security on their offices.
The organizations impacted are the Centro de Información y Servicios de Asesoría en Salud (CISAS), Instituto de Estudios Estratégicos y Políticas Públicas (IEEPP), the Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH), Hagamos Democracia, the Centro de Investigación de la Comunicación (CINCO), the Instituto para el Desarrollo y la Democracia (IPADE), Instituto de Liderazgo de las Segovias, and Fundación del Río, among others.
These attacks reflect the social and political crisis in Nicaragua that has undermined the individual freedoms and human rights of Nicaraguan citizens. According to the CIVICUS Monitor, the state of civic space in the country is “repressive.” The Monitor notes “free expression is being damaged due to the construction of a media empire in the hands of the president’s family, the disciplining of critical media through the arbitrary allocation of state advertising, extreme secrecy and a tight control on the flow of public information.”
Call for Action
The organizations mentioned above, their members, and allies around the world, call on:
- The member states of the United Nations to uphold the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, many of which are being violated by the government of Nicaragua.
- Member nations of the Organization of American States and signatories of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which obligates them to promote and defend the right to democracy enshrined for all the peoples of the Americas.
- The nations that are part of the Governing Council of the Community of Democracies and signatories of the Warsaw Declaration and the Civil Society Standards that commits them to carry out coordinated diplomatic actions, whenever it is necessary, to support the space of civil society.
Under these commitments, we ask the diplomatic community to:
- Demand President Daniel Ortega and other government institutions to:
- Cease the repression of social organizations and their members;
- Return the legal status to organizations that were canceled;
- Return items that were confiscated to the raided organizations; and
- Redress the physical damage done in such raids.
- Request the Organization of American States and its member countries:
- That its Secretary General forcefully condemn the repression of civil society and the violation of democracy in Nicaragua, as he has so strongly done with other dictatorial regimes in the region;
- To comply with the OAS Charter’s democratic clause, and suspend the participation of Nicaragua in the sessions of the General Assembly, the Meeting of Consultation, the Councils of the Organization and specialized conferences, the commissions, working groups, and other OAS organs; and
- To share this call with other networks and diplomatic missions, to seek joint diplomatic and solidarity actions.