Nicaraguan government interferes with citizen activism and closes space for opposition

On 20th November 2017, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed its concern after the Nicaraguan government would not permit the IACHR Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Children to visit the country. The government has previously shown its lack of commitment to the regional body by not participating in the ordinary period of sessions held by the IACHR. The Commission stated that the decision to not allow the Special Rapporteur to conduct a visit to the country:

"[M]akes the State of Nicaragua’s commitment to human rights more fragile, by unjustifiably constraining opportunities for open, plural debate on human rights in the country by limiting the presence of the IACHR in these spaces".

Association

Intimidation and harassment of anti-Canal movement

The intimidation and harassment against activist Francisca Ramírez continued at the time of writing. As reported on the Monitor, in August 2017 the Inter American Commission on Human Rights granted Ramírez protection measures due to the grave risks she has faced from those opposed to her mobilising citizens in a movement against the building of the Grand Inter-oceanic Canal. Recently, on 11th December 2017 Francisca Ramírez and Mónica López Baltodano reported being subjected to a defamation campaign due to their activism. The campaign consisted of defamatory messages on social media in which Ramírez and López - who is the legal adviser of the movement - were accused of being government spies within the anti-Canal movement. López has recently resigned from her position, saying that some of the members of the movement have conflicting political interests. Ramírez responded that the government is attempting to dismantle the anti-Canal movement by disrupting it from within but the fight will continue.

Post-election violence against opposition party members

Centro Nicaraguense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH) presented a monitoring report of the November 2017 municipal elections and the human rights violations that occurred during and after election day. Regarding the right of association, one specific case of political violence was identified. Supporters of the ruling party attacked a venue where members of an opposition party were celebrating their victory in the municipality of Yali. The attack left two people dead and 16 injured. The injured victims reported that the attack took place close to the police station, yet reported no police response.

Peaceful Assembly

Nicaragua held municipal elections on 5th November 2017. The atmosphere around the elections was tense, as widespread social discontent remained over reported electoral fraud in the 2016 presidential elections and the irregularities witnessed during the planning of the November 2017 local elections. After the elections, there were multiple reports of irregularities and the ruling party won in a majority of the municipalities. The results and alleged irregularities led to a series of protests in the days after, during which violent clashes erupted and rights violations were reported.

On 25th November 2017 - the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women - police blocked and stopped several buses of women who were travelling from several different cities to Managua to participate in a protest against gender-based violence. 

Expression

On 7th December 2017, Instituto Nicaragüense de Telecomunicaciones y Correos (Telcor) - the telecommunications’ regulatory body of Nicaragua - cancelled the operating license of Radio Bosawa, a community radio in El Cua. Telcor alleged the decision was due to the fact that the station had not notified Telcor over changes to its transmission equipment. However, Isidro Hernandez, who was elected on 5th November 2017 as mayor of El Cua, claimed that the Telcor decision to close down the station was made because the ruling party lost the elections in El Cua, and as a result, "will have no control over the radio station".