We condemn criminalization of human rights defenders in Nicaragua

We condemn criminalization of human rights defenders in Nicaragua

People in Need condemns the illegalization of civil society organizations and the criminalization of human rights defenders in Nicaragua. 

On December 12th, the Congress of Nicaragua canceled the legal status of five non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including the Centro Nicaragüense para los Derechos Humanos (CENIDH). This adds to four other NGOs that have been shut down by the Congress during November and December. All of them are widely recognized and respected on both national and international level for their work on the promotion and protection of human rights, democracy and good governance in Nicaragua. 

Below is the list of the organizations:

1. Centro de Información y Servicios de Asesoría de Salud (CISAS), founded in 1983
2. Instituto de Estudios Estratégicos y Políticas Públicas (IEEP), founded in 1993
3. Hagamos Democracia, founded in 1995
4. Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH), founded in 1990
5. Instituto para el Desarrollo de la Democracia (IPADE), founded in 1990
6. Fundación para la conservación y el desarrollo del Sur-Este de Nicaragua, founded in 1990
7. Centro de Investigación de la Comunicación (CINCO), founded in 1990
8. Fundación Popol na para la promoción y Desarrollo Municipal, founded in 1990
9. Fundación Instituto de Liderazgo de las Segovias (ILS), founded in 2010

Since 2016, the National Congress of Nicaragua have been composed in its majority by deputies of the Government’s party, the Sandinist Front of National Liberation (71 of the 92 deputies). Through this means, and with the absolute control of the State’s powers, the Government has enforced various mechanisms to restrict the freedoms of expression and assembly.

Particularly, during July 2018, the National Congress of Nicaragua approved the Law 797 “Law against money laundering, financing of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction” and the Law 976 “Law of Financial Analysis Unit”. Both laws have been denounced and questioned at the national and international level for its ambiguity and its misuse as justification for arbitrary detentions, repression of social movements and persecution of organizations and human rights defenders.

Vilma Núñez, President of CENIDH, stated in a press conference during the plenary session of the National Congress: “A serious human rights organization will not be dissolved by a resolution of bodies without autonomy and independence, nor it will dissolve our commitment and accompaniment of the Nicaraguan people.”

Since the arbitrary repeal of the legal status, some of these organizations have been facing violent raids on its facilities, confiscation of equipment and work materials, and physical aggression towards its security staff by the National Police. “They entered like lawbreakers, it is an attack on the freedom of expression and on the private company," said Carlos Fernando Chamorro, Director of the newspaper Confidencial.

People in Need condemns the arbitrary actions against civil society, as well as the systematic violation of human rights of the Nicaraguan citizens. We express our full support to the civil society, human rights defenders and independent press that continues to protect and promote human rights in Nicaragua. We call on the Government of Nicaragua to re-establish the national dialogue and to seek peaceful solutions to the crisis that will ultimately lead to justice, freedom and democracy in the country.

Author: PIN