Medardo Mairena Sequeira, who appeared in court yesterday to face trumped charges, was found guilty of conspiracy to undermine National integrity.
‘The judicial persecution of Nicaraguan human rights defender, Medardo Mairena Sequeira is a reflection of how the government of President Daniel Ortega uses state institutions to silence those who advocate for human rights and speak out against the actions of the government’, global civil society alliance CIVICUS said today.
Medardo was arrested in July 2021 together with other human rights defenders and members of the political opposition as part of a government campaign to silence the political opposition and civil society ahead of the November 2021 Presidential elections. Medardo Mairena Sequeira, who appeared in court yesterday to face trumped charges, was found guilty of conspiracy to undermine National integrity.
Medardo’s trial takes place amidst a wave of prosecutions of political prisoners in judicial proceedings marred by irregularities. In a country where the President has neutralised all independent institutions that could hold the government accountable for its human rights violations, the international community ought to do more to ensure that Medardo and others are released to their families. Said Debora Leao, Civic Space Research Officer, CIVICUS.
Medardo has been subjected to smear campaigns and arbitrary detentions over the last several years. On 13 July 2018, he was arrested and detained at the Augusto Sandino Airport in Managua and charged with several offences, including “terrorism,” “kidnapping”, and “murder.” He was found guilty of these charges and faced up to 73 years in prison. On 11 June 2019, he was released together with 56 human rights defenders and members of the political opposition following a general “amnesty” granted by the Nicaraguan authorities. Medardo is the National Coordinator of the civil society movement Consejo por la Defensa de la Tierra Lago y Soberania (Council for the Defence of the land, lake and sovereignty), which advocates for the rights of peasant farmers.
The attack on civic space triggered in Nicaragua in 2018 amidst large scale anti-government protests was exacerbated by a campaign by the government to silence all dissent ahead of the 7 November 2021 Presidential Elections. Human rights defenders, the media, political opposition and seven presidential candidates were subjected to arbitrary arrests and detentions for lengthy periods in abusive detention conditions. President Ortega secured his fourth term and used repressive tactics to consolidate his hold on power. More than 150 political prisoners are still detained as the authorities cancelled the legal status of over eighty civil society organisations and continue to subject human rights defenders and civil society organisations to smear campaigns.
Nicaragua is rated as ‘closed’ by the CIVICUS Monitor, our online platform that assesses the state of civic freedoms in all countries.