NICARAGUA: FIDH member organisation threatened by dictatorial regime

Press release
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The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and OMCT, rejects the cancellation of the legal status of four organisations by the Nicaraguan National Assembly. This decision demonstrates that the Assembly has become a summary court dedicated to the repression of civil society organisations in the country.

On 12 December 2018, the National Assembly, at the urgent request of the Ministry of Interior presented on the same day, canceled the legal status of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), a member organization of FIDH and the OMCT SOS-Torture Network. The explanatory memorandum states that the CENIDH has distorted its legal personality by not acting in accordance with the aims and objectives for which it was granted legal personality, "such as the achievement of peace and justice in Nicaragua", indicates the text of the request for annulment.

The Observatory expresses its great concern after having been informed that today the public force is surrounding the entrance to CENIDH’s headquarters, thereby obstructing workers from entering there, telling them that "they are no longer authorised". The Observatory calls on the authorities to respect and guarantee the physical integrity of all CENIDH workers.

" This decision constitutes an arbitrary restriction of the right to freedom of association in violation of Nicaragua’s international obligations. This is clearly an act of retaliation for its active denunciation of human rights violations since its inception in 1990. We reiterate our solidarity with the CENIDH ", said Dimitris Christopoulos, President of the FIDH.

" This outrage is an example of the model of repression aimed at destroying independent civil society in Nicaragua. For 30 years, the CENIDH has been a hope for all victims of human rights violations. Its closure seems to be a message to the Nicaraguan people not to denounce human rights violations, but it will not succeed in silencing the human rights movement ", said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.

CENIDH is the fourth NGO to have been stripped of its legal status by the National Assembly in the last two weeks, arguing that they are all part of a coup attempt to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. Yesterday, the organization "Let’s Make Democracy" had its legal personality withdrawn, and on 11 December, the Institute for Strategic Studies and Public Policy (IEEPP) also lost its legal personality. Finally, on 29 November, the National Assembly annulled the legal status of the feminist organization Centro de Información y Servicios de Asesoría en Salud (CISAS).

In order to dismantle student, rural and political activism, the Ortega-Murillo regime has deployed violent repression in recent months, killing more than 300 people and detaining hundreds of arbitrary detainees. As if that were not enough, the government now wants to silence civil society by attacking NGOs that are opposed to it by removing their legal status.

In this context, the Observatory expresses its concern and strongly condemns the deletion of the legal personality of the CENIDH. We call on the authorities to immediately reverse this decision and put an end to all types of harassment against the CENIDH and other organisations, as well as against all human rights defenders in Nicaragua.

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

For more information, please contact:
FIDH: Samuel Hanryon (French, English): + 33 6 72 28 28 28 42 94 / José Carlos Thissen (Spanish): + 51 95 41 31 650
OMCT: Miguel Martín: + 41 22 809 49 39

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