Nicaragua: lack of engagement with UN mechanisms outlines contempt for human rights obligations

Statement at the 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council 

Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner on Nicaragua

Delivered by Nicola Paccamiccio

Thank you Mr President, and thank you Deputy High Commissioner for this report, which outlines Nicaragua’s contempt for its human rights obligations.

Civic space restrictions remain of fundamental concern. Since the elections last year, Nicaragua has experienced a redoubling of repression, with the aim of eliminating any form of autonomous organisation and monopolising power.

The repression has encompassed the widest possible range of violations of the freedoms of association and expression: harassment, threats and physical attacks, kidnapping and detention of human rights defenders, journalists and members of the opposition, their torture under custody, their criminalisation under fabricated charges, their prosecution and conviction without due process guarantees, and their confinement in inhumane conditions.

The process accelerated in May, with a new General Law on the Regulation and Control of Non-profit Organisations which makes it more difficult for CSOs to register and maintain legal status. Anti-money laundering laws have been instrumentalised to obstruct the operation of independent civil society groups.

These new requirements have been applied to justify mass CSO closures which have wiped out hundreds of organisations, including organisations dedicated to urban and municipal development, business and professional associations, children’s rights and youth groups, and environmental and feminist organisations.

We call on the government of Nicaragua to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and to restore full respect for the fundamental civic freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. We ask the High Commissioner: in light of Nicaragua’s complete lack of engagement with Human Rights Council mechanisms, how can States protect civil society inside the country and support them in their efforts to further human rights?

 Civic space in Nicaragua is rated "Closed" by the CIVICUS Monitor.

Photo: Jorge Mejía peralta