NICARAGUA: OAS must take urgent measures in response to the wave of repression against civil society

Geneva-Paris, 14 December 2018 – The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a programme of the OMCT and the FIDH, calls on the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss recent events in Nicaragua for the purpose of condemning recent events and demanding that the State of Nicaragua bring to an end the repression against civil society in Nicaragua. A total of nine organisations have had their legal personalities annulled by the National Assembly in just two weeks against a background of harassment and repression against independent civil society in Nicaragua. The international community must respond decisively.

On 13 December 2018, the National Assembly intensified its role as a summary court for the repression of civil society with the annulment of the legal personalities of five more organisations: Centro de Investigación de la Comunicación (Cinco), Instituto para el Desarrollo de la Democracia (Ipade), Instituto de Liderazgo de las Segovias (ILS), Fundación para la Conservación y el Desarrollo del Sur Este de Nicaragua (Fundación del Río), and Fundación Popol Na, para la Promoción y el Desarrollo Municipal.

As of today, there are now nine NGOs which have arbitrarily been stripped of their legal personalities in the last two weeks, including the Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH), a member organisation of the SOS-Torture Network of the OMCT and of the FIDH, in addition to the organisations Hagamos Democracia, the Instituto de Estudios Estratégicos y Políticas Públicas (IEEPP) and the Centro de Información y Servicios de Asesoría en Salud (CISAS).

The Observatory also denounces the climate of harassment against civil society which has become worse in recent days, particularly in the case of a number of organisations which have been affected by the National Assembly’s decisions. Last night, the police, the Dirección de Auxilio Judicial with approximately 40 police officers, entered the headquarters of the CENIDH through the roof, forcing their way into the offices and destroying information; they appropriated two vans belonging to the institution and removed a number of items from the office. The fact that they left behind in the office an item of camouflage clothing exclusively used by military personnel is particularly serious. This is worrying because there are fears that the item is being used to make a statement that they had military arms or equipment.

Finally, the Observatory urges the whole of the international community to take decisive diplomatic measures proportionate to the gravity of the situation, including forceful public statements, summoning Nicaraguan diplomatic representatives in their respective countries, and considering possible personal and commercial sanctions against the regime of Ortega and Murillo until the closure of NGOs is reversed.

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 the FIDH and its objective is to intervene to prevent or remedy specific situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

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