Two defenders from Nicaragua shortlisted for European Parliament Sakharov Prize

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Paris, 12 October 2023. Human rights defender Vilma Nuñez, Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Monsignor Rolando Alvarez have today been chosen as one of the three finalists for the Sakharov Prize. FIDH calls on the Nicaraguan regime to restore their most basic rights, the reinstalment of their nationality and the immediate release of Monsignor Alvarez.

Being finalists for the Sakharov Prize is in itself a well-deserved honour for the work, denunciation and resistance of Vilma Nuñez and Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, as well as for all of Nicaragua’s independent civil society inside and outside the country, which for years continue to suffer harsh and cruel repression. The two candidates represent a lifetime of defending the fundamental rights of Nicaraguans: Vilma through her tireless and steadfast defence of human rights for more than 60 years and Monsignor Alvarez for his courageous pastoral work, both always accompanying the victims.

FIDH demands the regime revoke the decision that arbitrarily deprived Vilma Nuñez and Monsignor Alvarez of their nationality, and to return their identity and birth certificates. We strongly insist that the judicial proceedings and sentences against them be annulled, as well as the immediate and unconditional release of Monsignor Alvarez, who has been held incommunicado since February 2023. We also call for him to be able to freely exercize all of his fundamental rights, so that he can continue his work defending the human rights of Nicaraguans.

This valuable vote by the European Parliament should also be understood as a call by the European community to the regime of Nicaragua to stop the repression in the country and to restore the fundamental rights of all persons and organizations affected by the repressive measures.

Along with Vilma Nuñez and Monsignor Alvarez, there are two other groups of finalists: courageous women who also deserve this valuable recognition. On the one hand, Mahsa Amini and the Women, life and freedom movement from Iran and, on the other hand, women fighting for the right to free, safe and legal abortion, Justyna Wydrzyńska from Poland, Morena Herrera from El Salvador and Colleen McNichols from the United States of America.

The Sakharov Prize is the European Parliament’s highest award for human rights. It honours individuals, groups and organizations that have made an outstanding contribution to the defence of freedom of conscience. The winning group will be announced on 26 October, 2023, and the three finalists will be invited to take part in the award ceremony in Strasbourg, France, in December 2023.

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