Nicaragua's rating downgraded from Obstructed to Repressed

The CIVICUS Monitor has today downgraded Nicaragua's civic space rating from Obstructed to Repressed. This change follows close consultation with our research partner in the region, Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe para la Democracia (REDLAD) and contacts with local civil society organisations, and is based on our analysis of a decline in respect for fundamental freedoms in the country.

Widespread protests began in Nicaragua on 18th April 2018, after the government proposed amendments to the social security system that would have seen an increase in contributions made by workers and employers and a reduction in pensions paid to retired workers. Although the amendments were revoked a few days later, protests have continued as protesters called for justice and the President's resignation. The government's reaction to the protests was a harsh crackdown with excessive force and violence. According the Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI) 322 individuals have been killed, hundreds remain in detention,180 people have disappeared and 14 are still missing since the crisis started. 

Systematic harassment against human rights defenders and social leaders in Nicaragua is continuing. The authorities are accusing these activists of terrorism, organised crime, and similar offences. On 18th September 2018, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted precautionary measures to protect the rights of more than a hundred people "who are at serious and urgent risk of irreparable harm to their human rights". 

Since the start of the protests, the authorities have also curtailed freedom of expression and targeted media houses to limit the release of information on the violence. 

On 15th August 2018, Nicaragua was added to the CIVICUS Monitor Watch List, where there are serious and ongoing threats to civic space, according to CIVICUS Monitor research findings and consultations with activists on the ground.

For more on these developments, and to read our latest updates on Nicaragua, please see here.