Hundreds of NGOs demand an end to the state's repression of the right to peaceful assembly
As reported on the Monitor, proposed regressive changes to the social security system sparked widespread, mass protests across the country for several days, following which, on 22nd April President Ortega announced that the government will withdraw the proposed changes. Despite his announcement, protests continued for several weeks with demands for an end to corruption and for justice to be served in the cases of people killed during the protests. Centro Nicaraguense para los Derechos Humanos (CENIDH) documented 45 deaths during the protests, while Comision Permanente para los Derechos Humanos (CPDH) recorded 63. In addition, local media reported 435 people injured during the protests and 37 people who experienced some kind of police abuse while in detention for participating in the protests. For example, one detained student reported that officers mistreated and hit him while in detention, and he was left with no water or food. The student claimed that he was arrested along with approximately 200 people.
Several international organisations have condemned the authorities' response to the protests. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), for example, called on the authorities:
"[T]o promptly and thoroughly investigate police actions during these protests and to impose any necessary penalties. Further, the Commission urges the State to ensure strict adherence to the general principles of legality, exceptionality, proportionality and absolute necessity in the use of force in the context of social protests. The IACHR also deems it important for the authorities to make a decisive contribution to building an environment marked by tolerance and respect, where all people can express their thoughts and views without fear of facing aggression, penalties or stigma as a result".
In addition, 323 local, regional and international organisations signed a statement demanding that the government of Nicaragua end its repression of the right to peacefully assemble, noting that:
"This situation is not an isolated case; in recent times, numerous acts have been documented that infringe the right to social protest - by restricting people’s freedom of movement, through campaigns of criminalization, threats and harassment against organizations and human rights’ defenders, or through the closure of communication spaces, and many other actions that threaten democracy and the human rights of Nicaraguan women and men".
Demandamos justicia para todos aquellos q han sido asesinados, liberacion p los detenidos y el cese a la represión y agresion en las carceles y en las calles pic.twitter.com/uhQH5P5EMe— Cenidh (@cenidh) May 19, 2018
Iniciativa Nicaraguence de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (Nicaraguan Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders) reported several recent cases of attacks and harassment against women activists in the country. For example, on 17th April state security forces beat Sara Henriquez during a protest. The following day a group of pro-government activists held a demonstration in front of her house accusing her of being a traitor.
On 18th April, activist Ana Quiros - a member of Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres (Autonomous Women's Movement) - reported that one person attacked her during a protest while she was trying to protect a woman being attacked by police. Quiros said that the attacker identified her as a human rights defender and proceeded to hit her with a stick several times. Quiros sustained injuries that required her to have surgery.
Activist Haydee Castillo has reported receiving threats and allegedly been accused of working for U.S. intelligence. Castillo is Director of Liderazgo de las Segovias, an organisation working to promote the development of individual and collective leadership in societal transformation.
The director of Radio Dario reported that unknown people, allegedly aligned with and supported by pro-government groups, burned the station's office, while 12 people were inside. No injuries were reported as a result of the attack. The radio station was covering the widespread social unrest and protests around the government's previous decision on the social security system, as detailed in the section on Peaceful Assembly.
Así quedó la redacción de Radio Darío, de León, incendiada por huestes del Frente Sandinista durante las protestas en esta ciudad del oeste de Nicaragua. pic.twitter.com/EuaUm0f4Cv— Carlos S. Maldonado (@CSMaldonado) May 2, 2018