Nicaragua: 13 activists still face charges
A protester confronts police in April 2018 © Carlos Herrera/Amnesty International
Thirteen activists arrested on 14 November 2019 after giving water to a group of people on hunger strike to demand the release of their relatives were among the 91 people released on 30 December 2019. However, they still face charges and will be brought to court on 30 January 2020.
According to local groups, 65 people detained in the aftermath of the April 2018 protests remain in prison.
Amnesty International urges the Nicaraguan authorities to drop all charges and immediately release all those detained solely on the grounds of exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Please send a tweet or letter to the president.
* Express concern about the continued persecution and criminalization strategy in Nicaragua since the April 2018 protests took place. This includes the continuing detention of 65 individuals and charges against 13 activists who provided water to hunger strikers that must be withdrawn.
* Urge his government to uphold the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, to drop all charges against the 13 activists, and to immediately release anyone detained for exercising their basic rights.
Daniel Ortega Saavedra
Presidencia de la República
frente a Palacio Nacional, calle 4 Noroeste
Fax: 011 505 2228 9090
Salutation: Dear President Ortega
His Excellency Maurizio Gelli
Ambassador for the Republic of Nicaragua
104 Black Maple Private
Ottawa, Ontario K1M 0T7
Minister for Foreign Affairs:
Denis Rolando Moncada Colindres
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
Del Antiguo Cine González 1c. al sur
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On 18 April 2018, protests broke out following the government’s attempt to implement unpopular social security reforms and without any consultation. These protests were met with violent repression. According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the crisis has resulted in the deaths of 328 people and more than 2,000 injuries. Civil society figures have established that more than 700 have been arrested. Furthermore, 300 health professionals were dismissed from their jobs and 144 students have been expelled from the UNAN (National Autonomous University of Nicaragua). About 80,000 Nicaraguans have fled to neighbouring countries. About 68,000 of them were seeking asylum in Costa Rica as of August 2019, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Over 100 journalists and media workers have been forced into exile.
The Government has failed so far to fulfil its commitment, made in March 2019, to release all people detained solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly since 18 April 2018. An Amnesty Law was approved by the National Assembly of Nicaragua on 8 June 2019. Following this approval, 56 people were released on 11 June 2019.
However, new cases of repression have been reported since then. On 16 May 2019, Eddy Montes (57), a Nicaraguan and U.S. citizen, was shot dead at La Modelo prison in Managua. He and others who were injured had been arrested for participating in the 2018 protests. On 14 November 2019, the Nicaraguan police detained and imprisoned at least 13 activists while leaving the San Miguel Parish Church in Masaya (Nicaragua). The activists were giving water to a group of people on hunger strike to demand the release of their relatives who were detained for participating in the protests of 18 April 2018.
On 30 December 2019, according to the government of Nicaragua, 91 people were released as a gesture of “national reconciliation”. Among them were 13 activists arrested on 14 November 2019 and other people detained in the aftermath of the April 2018 crisis. For instance, María Guadalupe Ruiz Briceño (22), student and activist, who, according to the Nicaraguan Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders (Iniciativa Nicaraguense de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos) and the Legal Defence Unite (Unidad de Defensa Jurídica), was arbitrarily detained with violence by the police in July 2019.
In the report “Instilling terror”, Amnesty International concluded that one of the central planks of this repressive policy was the Nicaraguan state's persistent efforts to criminalize opponents, referring to anyone who protested against the government as “terrorists” or “coup plotters” to justify its own violent actions. Since then, protests have continued demanding substantial change to the status quo. One year and a half after the beginning of the crackdown on protests, Amnesty International continues to receive reports of arbitrary detentions and torture of persons deprived of their liberty. Civil society organizations whose legal status was cancelled by the government (including the
Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights - CENIDH) remain unable to freely carry out their work in the country, and the harassment of journalists and human rights defenders continues. Attacks against freedom of expression and peaceful assembly indicate an ongoing strategy to suppress dissenting voices.
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