Land rights defender arbitrarily detained for over 40 hours
On 2nd September 2017, family members reported the disappearance of land rights defender Medardo Mairena. According to reports from Front Line Defenders, Mairena was arbitrarily detained and released after 40 hours. During that time, he was not allow access to a lawyer or to communication with his family. The activist is the national coordinator for Consejo por la Defensa de la Tierra, Lago y Soberanía (Council for the Defence of the Land, Lake and Sovereignty), an organisation seeking to repeal Law 840 “which granted concession over large swathes of land to the privately owned Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company, for a mega-project which would displace thousands of small farmers and indigenous peoples”.
From 4th to 8th September 2017, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) held the 164th Extraordinary Period of Sessions in Mexico City. Activists from Nicaragua participated in a hearing on the situation for women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in the country. They drew attention to the fact that between 2015 and 2017, 202 acts of aggression against WHRDs were reported. According to their data, the authorities were responsible for 45 percent of them, with the police being the main perpetrator. However, as previously reported on the Monitor, the Nicaraguan government failed to attend this session.
In a separate incident and in the midst of a regional electoral campaign, two cases of assassinations of political activists were reported.
On 3rd September 2017, Lester Tinoco Martinez, a political activist affiliated with Ciudadanos por la Libertad (CXL), reportedly killed Zeneyda Patricia Salgado, leader of Partido Liberal Constitucionalista (PLC) and a candidate for deputy-major. It was reported that Salgado was leaving a political meeting when Tinoco shot her.
Another incident took place a few days later when Fidel Rodriguez, also a member of the PLC, was murdered, reportedly by a member of CXL. A police officer suggested that political parties inform them in advance of future events so that they can provide additional security for the members.
As previously reported on the Monitor, protests in opposition to the construction of a canal in Nicaragua that would connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans have been documented over the past months. Protest number 91 took place on 15th August 2017, during which it was reported that police officers detained two buses that were transporting a group of protesters to the gathering spot. After several hours, the protesters were allowed to continue and later participate in the protest.
In regards to the incident, Amnesty International declared:
“Once again, the Nicaraguan police have violated people’s right to peaceful protest. These kinds of actions are, quite simply, acts of intimidation designed to suppress any expression of disagreement with the policies of Daniel Ortega’s government”.
In addition, in a new report released in August 2017, Amnesty International recommend that security forces "[g]uarantee and respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful public protest of those who want to express their position to and concerns about the future impacts of the [Canal] Project".