Indigenous community judge murdered and HRDs face continuous threats

Association

Citizen-led movement against the Great Canal

On 22nd August 2017, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights granted protection measures for environmental activist Francisca Ramirez and her family, given the grave risks she has faced from those opposed to her mobilising citizens against the building of the Great Canal. As reported on the Monitor, Francisca has been repeatedly intimidated by the authorities and has received death threats since early 2017. 

On 25th October, Medardo Mairena, one of the leaders of the anti-Canal movement was accused of an election-related crime after a flag of the ruling party was burned during a protest against the canal project. Mairena assured that he and his movement have never been violent and that actually it was one pro-Government activist who burned the flag to incriminate him. Mairena has been previously detained for 40 hours as reported by the Monitor.

Centro por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua reported that on 8th September, Celedonia Zalazar, a community judge, was murdered in her home. Zalazar was a judge in an indigenous community who worked for the protection of the community’s territories. Reports link her murder to her work for indigenous peoples' land rights.

On 30th October, Red Local and Fundacion del Rio from Nicaragua reported that the government institution responsible for the registration of civil society organisation had was denied the Foundation its Certificate of Fulfillment, thereby threatening its sustainability. The Foundation has requested its official certificate from the government since the beginning of 2017 but the authorities claim there are irregularities in the sale of a piece of land from the organisation. The Foundation, however, claims that to have not received any formal document with this accusation.

Several cases of harassment against the opposition were reported ahead of the 5th November elections. These incidents included the arrests of eight members of the main opposition party, Partido Liberal Constitucionalista, as well as illegal raids of opposition leaders’ houses. 

Peaceful Assembly

On 1st November, 11 members of Partido Liberal Constitucionalista were arrested for allegedly participating in a violent protest during which they denounced the numerous irregularities in the municipal electoral process. Reports indicate that the national police have not yet provided details on the alleged violent actions. The Party members were scheduled to appear before a judge on 6th November. 

Expression

During the municipal election held on 5th November, an act of aggression against a journalist was documented. The incident happened because a police officer would not allow the journalist to enter the polling station and the journalist tried to film the police officer to report the situation.

Another incident was reported on 10th October when a member of congress from the ruling party threatened to initiate a complaint against a journalist. The journalist had questioned the congressional representative about irregularities in the budget, but he refused to be interviewed and when the journalist insisted, she was threatened.