Nicaragua: Criminalisation of the president of the Fundación del Río, Amaru Ruiz

14/09/2021
Urgent Appeal
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NIC 007 / 0921 / OBS 094
Criminalisation
Nicaragua
14 September 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Nicaragua.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has received concering information about the criminalisation of Amaru Ruiz Alemán, president of the Fundación del Río. [1] and defender of the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples in Nicaragua. Amaru Ruiz has been in exile since the end of 2018 after receiving threats, attacks on his home and facing the risk of arrest in retaliation for his work defending human rights.

On 8 September 2021, the Nicaraguan Public Prosecutor’s Office declared through a press release the filing of an indictment against Amaru Ruiz for the crime of "propagating false news through information and communication technologies", based on Article 30 of the Special Law on Cybercrime (Law 1042/2020). He also requested the judiciary to issue an arrest warrant for him.

The accusations are allegedly related to the denunciations made by Amaru Ruiz on his social media about human rights violations against indigenous and Afro-descendant populations in Nicaragua, and in particular the violence perpetrated against the indigenous communities of the Northern Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua in 2020 and 2021, including the massacre of 3 September 2021 in the Mayangna Sauni As territory in the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve.

In the statement, the Public Prosecutor’s Office indicated that Amaru Ruiz "provided false information about events that occurred in 2020 and 2021 in the communities of the Northern Caribbean Coast" and that, as a result of his denunciations, "he tried to create a climate of instability and insecurity that endangers national sovereignty".

The Observatory strongly rejects the criminalisation of Amaru Ruiz, as well as the harassment, attacks and persistent violence against those who defend the human rights of indigenous peoples in Nicaragua.

The Observatory urges the Nicaraguan authorities to put an end to the judicial harassment of Amaru Ruiz and all human rights defenders in the country, and to put an end to all acts of violence against them. The Observatory also urges the Nicaraguan government to support and publicly recognise the legitimacy of their work as human rights defenders and to respect their right to freedom of expression.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Nicaraguan authorities urging them to:

i. Put an immediate end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Maru Ruiz Alemán and all human rights defenders in Nicaragua;

ii. Immediately take the necessary measures to reverse the institutional, legal and administrative framework used to restrict the right to defend human rights in Nicaragua, including the Special Law on Cybercrimes (Law 1042/2020).

iii. Implement supportive policies, including public recognition by the President of the Republic and other high-level officials, of the importance of the legitimate work carried out by human rights defenders in Nicaragua.

Addresses:

- Mr. José Daniel Ortega Saavedra, President of the Republic of Nicaragua. Email: presidencia@presidencia.gob.ni
- Mr. Denis Moncada Colindres, Chancellor of the Republic of Nicaragua. Email: DMoncada@cancilleria.gob.ni
- Mr. Filiberto Jacinto Rodríguez López, President of the Peace, Defence, Governance and Human Rights Commission of the National Assembly of Nicaragua. Email: rfilibertojacinto@yahoo.com
- Mr. Edwin Illescas A., Secretario Legislativo de la Comisión de la Paz, Defensa, Gobernación y Derechos Humanos de la Asamblea Nacional de Nicaragua, Email: edwini@asamblea.gob.ni/ defensa@asamblea.gob.ni
- Jaime Hermida Castillo Ambassador of Nicaragua to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva. Email: mission.nicaragua@cancilleria.gob.ni; mission.nicaragua@ties.itu.int
- Mauricio Lautaro Sandino Montes, Ambassador of Nicaragua in Brussels. Email: embanic.bruselas@skynet.be, embanic.rosa.vila@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representatives of Nicaragua in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, 14 September 2021

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken, quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) is a programme created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH and aims to intervene to prevent or remedy concrete situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, please contact the hotline:

- E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
- Tel: OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39
- Tel: FIDH: + 33 1 43 55 25 18

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