Statement at the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Interactive Dialogue on High Commisioner's oral update on Nicaragua
Delivered by Nicola Paccamiccio
Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you to the High Commissioner for her update.
The dismantling of Nicaragua’s civil society continues unabated. In the past weeks alone, the Ortega government has used money laundering legislation and the ‘foreign agents’ legislation to cancel the registration of nearly 200 organisations working on issues from culture, to aid and development, to the environment.
A new “General Law on the Regulation and Control of Non-profit Organisations,” enacted last month, could prove a nail in the coffin for independent civil society, now effectively unable to continue their work. It makes it more difficult for Non Governmental Organisations to register, requires them to seek government approval for their activities, and imposes new reporting constraints.
Human rights defenders and opposition leaders continue to be persecuted. Yubrank Suazo, opposition leader and member of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, was detained on 18 May. Dozens of political prisoners were convicted in express trials between February and May – since then, requests for appeal have been rejected.
This is particularly concerning given ongoing ill-treatment and torture of political prisoners, including human rights defenders María Esperanza Sanchez. Women political prisoners who live with chronic or pre-existing health conditions have not received appropriate medical attention.
Nicaragua's authorities have not hesitated to use legislation, policy, judicial harassment and even acts of violence to attack Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and civil society. The establishment of the Group of Experts on Nicaragua is a significant and welcome step towards truth and accountability, and we ask the High Commissioner for concrete suggestions to how States can best support civil society on the ground who are operating in an atmosphere of fear and violence.
Civic space in Nicaragua is rated as "Closed" by the CIVICUS Monitor