In Nicaragua “the silencing of critical voices persists in a context of fear and harassment by the authorities, leaving virtually no room for any open and inclusive public debate,” the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Wednesday.
In an oral update to Human Rights CouncilNada Al-Nashif reported that from March 3 to date, his Office has documented cases of serious violations of fundamental guarantees committed by State officials in the context of “a constant deterioration of the general situation of human rights.” .
He added that the restrictions on civic space, together with the progressive dismantling of the rule of lawcontinue to prevent the exercise and full enjoyment of human rights, particularly those who hold dissident opinions.
Al-Nashif explained that in April and May there were new arbitrary deprivations of liberty of human rights defenders, political opponents, journalists, members of the peasant movement and people linked to the Catholic Church.
Only on May 3, 63 people were arbitrarily detained throughout the country and 55 of them were accused of conspiracy “to attack the national integrity” and “dissemination of false news”.
“These crimes are routinely used by the authorities to criminalize the political opposition and the legitimate work of human rights defenders, using the judicial system for this,” specified the subhead of the High Commissioner.
Persecution of the Catholic Church
Al-Nashif also referred in the last three months the legal status of a total of 119 NGOs and eight universities has been cancelled, and the persecution of members of the Catholic Church has intensified.
The Church reported that six of its members were expelled from the country and four other detainees this year alone. The bank accounts of at least three dioceses were frozen and during the Holy Week celebrations, the police reportedly harassed and intimidated priests and participants in processions.
Reverse measures that erode the rule of law
Given the precariousness of human rights in the country, the Deputy High Commissioner called on the Nicaraguan government to put an end to and reverse all measures in force, which erode the rule of law, civic space and human rights.
He also urged release immediately and unconditionally to all persons arbitrarily deprived of liberty and to restore the rights of persons deprived of nationality; to cease the persecution against the Catholic Church and civil society actors; and to restore the legal personality of all associations, media and universities arbitrarily canceled since 2018.
He also ordered the authorities to ensure accountability for present and past violations in order to preserve the path towards an inclusive and participatory national dialogue, basing any political process on human rights.
Finally, Al-Nashif reiterated his call to the Nicaraguan authorities to re-establish a meaningful dialogue with the Office and with the United Nations human rights mechanisms; and to comply with their international obligations in this matter.