Human Rights Crisis in Nicaragua Worsens: IACHR Report

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By Marco Echevarria

A recent report from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has highlighted a growing human rights crisis in Nicaragua. The report, published on Thursday, emphasizes that civil society in Nicaragua faces significant challenges in participating in social and political life freely and safely.

According to the report, since April 18, 2018, up to August 31, 2023, Nicaragua has revoked the legal status of 3,390 organizations, which is nearly half of the 7,227 registered in the country back in 2018. This was the year when anti-government protests erupted, leading to approximately 300 deaths. The IACHR views this as an assault on pluralism and indicative of an intent to shut down civic and democratic space in Nicaragua completely.

The report denounces the prevailing policy in Nicaragua as one of systematic repression and persecution against anyone perceived as an opponent of the government. This has been implemented through a police state, with restrictions made possible by the subordination of all public powers to the Executive branch, lacking necessary checks and balances.

A specific example cited in the report is the role of the National Assembly, which has facilitated the approval of regulations and legal reforms proposed by President Daniel Ortega’s government. Ortega was re-elected in 2021 amidst circumstances where his rivals were either imprisoned or in exile. Furthermore, the report highlights the ineffectiveness of any legal challenges to these regulations due to the judiciary’s lack of independence.

As a result of this repressive escalation, many organizations and activists have been forced into exile, while those remaining in the country operate clandestinely in a climate of fear, persecution, and self-censorship. The Nicaraguan authorities have been following a pattern of prohibiting demonstrations, conducting arbitrary detentions (over 2,000 since April 2018), and engaging in smear campaigns and harassment.

The IACHR also notes that the Nicaraguan government has been controlling movement by withdrawing, retaining, or refusing passports to prevent individuals from leaving or returning to the country.

The IACHR, an entity of the Organization of American States (OAS), released this report as Nicaragua prepares to leave the OAS on November 19, a decision made by President Ortega.