In light of crimes against humanity in Nicaragua, NGOs call for 2-year renewal of the mandate of the UN Group of Experts and OHCHR
Washington D.C., March 8, 2023 - After a year of exhaustive investigations, the Group of Human Rights Experts on in Nicaragua (GHREN) concluded that the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo - motivated by political motives - is committing systematic and widespread human rights violations that constitute crimes against humanity targeting a sector of the population considered to be real or perceived opponents. Given the gravity of these crimes, Nicaraguan activists demanded that the mandate of the GHREN and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) be strengthened and renewed for two years, in a parallel event to the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council held this Tuesday, March 7, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
The event entitled "The Persecution of Political Prisoners and Human Rights Defenders: How the Human Rights Council Should Respond" was organized by the 46/2 Collective, a coalition of more than 21 human rights organizations that pushed for the creation of the GHREN mandate in 2022. It was co-sponsored by the Center for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), the Center for Justice CEJIL, CIVICUS, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality). In their interventions, the activists recounted the reprisals taken by the Ortega regime for their documentation and denunciation work, and provided updated information on the country context.
At the beginning of the event, the Deputy Director of the Americas office of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Nathalia Yaya, pointed out that her intervention should have been made by the President of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), Dr. Vilma Núñez de Escorcia, who in an "aberrant measure" was arbitrarily deprived of her Nicaraguan nationality on February 15 and is still in Nicaraguan territory, exposed to serious risks to her life and integrity. Yaya demanded that her physical and psychological integrity be respected.
Gonzalo Carrión, member of the human rights collective "Nicaragua Nunca Más", who is in exile and in a situation of statelessness as a reprisal for his work in defense of human rights, thanked the international solidarity with the 317 Nicaraguans stripped of their nationality and citizenship rights and urged the international community to "in addition to the offer of nationality, adopt measures to accelerate their reception, given the scope and terrible consequences" of this attack.
Alexandra Salazar, defender of the Legal Defense Unit (UDJ), expressed her concern for the "establishment of a policy of fear of denunciation" in persons deprived of liberty for political reasons and their families, which brings with it the risk of "invisibility, anonymity or under-reporting" of the grave situation in Nicaragua. "States must remain alert to what is happening in Nicaragua... continue with their support, open humanitarian channels and renew the mandate of the Group of Experts and the United Nations High Commissioner," Salazar urged.
Becky McCray, an indigenous Rama and lawyer and founding member of the Alliance of Afro-descendant Indigenous Peoples of Nicaragua (APIAN), denounced that since the beginning of the socio-political crisis in April 2018, structural violence and serious violations of human, environmental and territorial rights against indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples of the Caribbean Coast has intensified. At least 67 murders of indigenous people continue in impunity, and "the Army and the National Police have not responded to these deaths despite the complaints that have been raised to different instances", therefore, requests that in the renewal of the mandate of the Group of Human Rights Experts, "the express mention for the investigation of serious violations of the human rights of indigenous peoples" be incorporated.
Resolution for two years, forceful and with strong regional support.
"We will immediately need a strong resolution with strong regional support. We have had support from the Core Group, but also from Argentina and Mexico, and this is an important demonstration of regional concern," said Raphaël Viana, Ombudsman for China and Latin America at the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR).
Gaia Hefti, Geneva Advocacy Officer for the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights, explained that there is still a lot of substantial documentation work to be done in the coming years and there are issues that have not been addressed with sufficient attention, "which is why it is very important that the mandates of the High Commissioner as well as the Group of Human Rights Experts can continue for two years."
"This is what we are pushing for from the 46/2 Collective... precisely so that they have the space, the time and the resources to be able to investigate these violations" said Hefti.
The 46/2 Collective has promoted an advocacy campaign to renew the mandate of the Group of Human Rights Experts on in Nicaragua (GHREN) for two years and to strengthen its intersectional approach, paying special attention to the situation of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples, migrants and forcibly displaced persons, persons detained for political reasons, and relatives of the victims. It also requests that this mandate be complemented by OHCHR's monitoring of Nicaragua, to continue to gather evidence, report on the dynamics in the country and provide necessary recommendations, including identifying perpetrators and suggesting avenues for international criminal investigations against those most responsible for the repression.