Political prisoners released while repression of protests continues

Association

On 21st February 2019, the Nicaraguan President announced a call for negotiations and dialogue to find a solution to the sociopolitical crisis that began in April 2018. A few days later, on 27th February 2019, a dialogue between the government and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy began. According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR),154 people who were arrested during protests were released between 27th February 18 March 2019. In addition, the IACHR expressed concern about the fact that the political prisoners that have been released do not have adequate information regarding their legal status. 

Despite these improvements, civil society organisations and activists continue to face harassment and attacks. On 20th March 2019, activists working with the Nicaraguan Federation of NGOs Working with Children and Adolescents (CODENI) were detained and allegedly interrogated at the Juigalpa Police Station in Chontales Department for around two hours. 

Peaceful Assembly

Days after the national dialogue started, the national police issued a statement, which prohibited all forms of protests "that disrupts the public order, threatens or impedes people’s constitutional right to work, freedom of movement, and the physical integrity of people, families, and public and private property.” In addition, protesting continues to be criminalised. On 16th March 2019, a protest in support of the liberation of all people who have been arrested during protests was prevented by police forces. According to reports, before reaching the demonstration, the police arrested 107 people and later released them.  

Expression

In early April 2019, the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) published a brief report on the situation of freedom of expression in Nicaragua. According to the organisation, since the crisis started in April 2018, 60 journalists have been forced to leave the country and over 700 attacks against freedom of expression have been documented. 

“Democracy and the rule of law are incompatible with the criminalization of the independent press. The use of criminal law to punish the publication of information or opinions openly violates the standards of the Inter-American Human Rights System, as set out in one of its core criteria. The state of Nicaragua must immediately cease attacks on the independent press and demonstrate its commitment to the principles of democracy as soon as possible,” said Edison Lanza, the IACHR’s special rapporteur for freedom of expression.