Nicaragua: UN High Commissioner calls on the HR Council to promote accountability for violations
Washington DC, December 15, 2021.- In compliance with Resolution 46/2 of the Human Rights Council on Nicaragua, the Deputy High Commissioner of the United Nations Office for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif called again for the Government of Nicaragua to commit itself to the mechanisms for the protection of human rights of the United Nations system in order to urgently restore the rights and public liberties that have been severed. She highlighted the essential role of the Human Rights Council, through which the international community can help “restore the rule of law and democratic institutions” in the country.
In her statement, Al-Nashif again called on the Human Rights Council to consider “all the measures at its disposal to promote accountability, search for the truth and comprehensive reparation to the victims for the serious violations that have occurred since 2018.” She warned of the alarming deterioration of civil and political rights in the electoral context, which caused Nicaragua to lose the opportunity to take “a step forward towards a peaceful and democratic solution to the political, social and human rights crisis that has affected the country since 2018” and initiate a process of opening spaces and progress towards accountability and reparation for the victims of human rights violations.
The presidential votes held on November 7, took place in a repressive environment, without the minimum guarantees of legitimacy required to be referred to as "elections." Between May and October 2021, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) documented the cancellation of the legal status of three political parties and 45 civil society organizations, and the arrest of at least 39 political leaders, human rights defenders, businessmen, journalists, and peasant and student leaders; among them, 7 people who publicly expressed their will to run for the Presidency of Nicaragua.
Days before, during and after the voting, the OHCHR documented the arrest of 10 political activists and journalists. Eight of these people remain under arrest and held uncommunicated while facing “ambiguous criminal charges.” This shows a pattern of human rights violations and abuses that state authorities have followed.
Al-Nashif demanded the release and restitution of the civil and political rights of all those arbitrarily detained, an end to the harassment and criminalization of political opponents, journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders; and, again, insisted that the OHCHR and other human rights mechanisms be granted the necessary access to the country to duly fulfill their mandates.
More than 50 countries concerned about Nicaragua
In a joint statement presented by Chile, more than 50 countries expressed solidarity with the Nicaraguan people and made an urgent call to the State to immediately release all political prisoners, cease politically motivated detentions and repressive actions against the media and minorities. They also asked the Council to take "any concrete measure in order to support the efforts of the Nicaraguan people to restore democracy and the rule of law in their country."
Finland on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden), Peru, Spain, the United States, Ukraine, Switzerland, Colombia, the Czech Republic and other countries called on the Government to resume cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as well as with regional human rights mechanisms.
Human rights organizations call for a #MechanismForNicaragua
Race and Equality, Human Rights Watch, Civicus, International Human Rights Network, Center for Justice and International Law, International Service for Human Rights, Center for Civil and Political Rights, among other human rights organizations, urged the Council to establish an international investigation and accountability mechanism at its 49th session, scheduled for March 2022.
Race and Equality and the International Service for Human Rights, on behalf of Lizeth Dávila - members of the Association of Mothers of April (AMA) and mother of Álvaro Conrado Davila, the first adolescent killed in the context of the social protests of 2018, urges the Council to create this mechanism, made up of one or more independent experts, to verify the serious human rights violations documented, preserve the evidence, identify the culprits, and lay the foundations for a justice process in my country.
"We need justice, we need accountability, for ourselves, for our children and for the people of Nicaragua", exclaimed Dávila.
This call from civil society for the establishment of an independent mechanism for investigation and accountabilityis based on the apparent unwillingness of the State of Nicaragua to cooperate with the mechanisms of human rights protection and the lack of implementation of recommendations after more than three years of scrutiny by the Human Rights Council. This refusal has been accompanied by a continuous and rapid deterioration, where repression has continued and where despite extensive documentation, Nicaragua still does not recognize any responsibility for serious violations that have occurred since 2018.
Nicaragua needs a strong response from the international community that sends a clear message to combat impunity, that lays the foundations for a future justice process and helps identify the structural changes that Nicaragua needs to overcome this crisis.