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Human Rights Watch Statement

Human Rights Council - Item 2 Interactive Dialogue on Nicaragua

An anti-government protester is dragged away and arrested by police as security forces disrupt an opposition march coined "United for Freedom" in Managua, Nicaragua, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. © 2018 AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga

The human rights situation in Nicaragua remains critical.

In 2020, the government intensified its repression against civil society organizations and independent journalists. Human rights defenders and other critics continue to be targets of death threats, intimidation, online defamation campaigns, harassment, surveillance, and assault.

In the last few months, the Nicaraguan Congress, controlled by the ruling party, passed several laws that violate Nicaraguans’ rights to freedom of expression and association, as well as to run for office and vote in fair and free elections.  

In the current context, there is a well-founded fear that these laws will be used to bar opposition candidates from participating in this year’s presidential elections and to target human rights defenders, journalists and others who raise their voices to speak out against repressive policies in the country. Local rights groups report that 111 persons perceived as opponents of the government are still arbitrarily detained. In the meantime, serious human rights violations, including torture and killings, committed during the 2018 crackdown have gone unpunished.

We urge the Human Rights Council to renew the enhanced mandate of the High Commissioner to monitor and report on the human rights situation in Nicaragua and establish clear benchmarks for cooperation for the Government of Nicaragua.  Sustained international pressure and scrutiny remains critical to curb the widespread abuses, ensure free and fair elections, allow Nicaraguans to return from exile, end censorship, and restore judicial independence in the country.

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