Since the present human rights crisis flared up in Nicaragua in 2018 the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo has not held back its onslaught against human rights and any form of dissent or criticism. Over the past few years national and international human rights organisations have condemned the way the authorities have used all the institutions of the State to intimidate, punish and eradicate any form of political opposition or defense of human rights.
“With this new wave of human rights violations Daniel Ortega is trying to replace the unjust imprisonment of those who speak out and defend rights with forced exile, cruelly stripping hundreds of Nicaraguans of their rights and stepping up his policy of terror and repression to annihilate any dissent,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s director for the Americas.
Founder of Nicaraguan Centre of Human Rights targeted
This week the Court of Appeal in Managua issued a ruling depriving 94 Nicaraguans of their nationality. These included prominent human rights defenders, writers and journalists. It furthermore declared them “traitors to the country” and, without any court proceedings, labeled them as “fugitives from justice.”
Among those affected by this latest arbitrary decision to unlawfully strip them of their nationality is Vilma Núñez de Escorcia, president and founder of the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights (CENIDH), who has a record of more than 60 years of human rights work. In 2019, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted interim measures obliging the authorities specifically and urgently to guarantee protection of her life and integrity.
“The courageous and unceasing human rights work that Vilma Núñez has engaged in, together with other human rights defenders and civil society organisations in Nicaragua, is now the only evidence that the government of Daniel Ortega intends to use to justify the application of laws designed to criminalise and persecute them,” Guevara-Rosas said. “Now, more than ever, we stand in solidarity together with the Nicaraguan people and their human rights movement, and call on the international community to do the same.”
Dissident voices under attack
In recent years the highest Nicaraguan authorities have repeatedly shown that they are prepared to do anything to bar and punish the exercise of human rights in the country. Just last week the Ortega government expelled and sentenced 222 people detained for merely exercising their rights and speaking out against the injustice. The legislative and administrative measures that the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo have introduced in the last few days to deprive dissident voices in Nicaragua of their nationality are an attack on everyone’s human right to have a nationality and not to be arbitrarily deprived of it.
‘It is clear that Daniel Ortega’s government is deepening its systematic policy of repression with this new wave of repressive tactics, and we urgently call on the international community to redouble its efforts in the face of these new abuses by the Nicaraguan government and to activate all available mechanisms to support, protect and back human rights defenders and voices critical of the government.’Erika Guevara-Rosas, Director for the Americas, Amnesty International
The statelessness imposed on more than 300 people in Nicaragua this past week places them in a position of greater vulnerability. It makes them more likely to be the victims of many other human rights violations, as they are not recognised as being the citizens of any state. In the immediate future this will put them at risk of facing enormous difficulties in accessing and enjoying basic rights such as employment, freedom of movement, health and education, among others.
Imprisonment, torture and murder used to silence activists
This stripping of nationality comes on top of a long list of serious human rights violations in Nicaragua that have been happening every day for almost five years. In 2018 the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts for Nicaragua, set up under the auspices of the IACHR, held that the government of Daniel Ortega had committed crimes against humanity and noted in its report that the Nicaraguan authorities used the apparatus of state, including the National Police, the Attorney General’s Office and the Judiciary, as well as parapolice groups, to assassinate, imprison, torture and persecute those who have spoken out against their policies or who have been perceived as dissidents. This same state machinery continues to this day to serve the repression and massive violation of human rights in Nicaragua.
“It is clear that Daniel Ortega’s government is deepening its systematic policy of repression with this new wave of repressive tactics, and we urgently call on the international community to redouble its efforts in the face of these new abuses by the Nicaraguan government and to activate all available mechanisms to support, protect and back human rights defenders and voices critical of the government, said Guevara-Rosas.
“We will not tire of demanding Daniel Ortega’s government to end repression; the Nicaraguan people do not deserve to continue living this nightmare for a second longer.”