Amidst an ongoing human rights crisis, the Council must take stronger action

Statement at the 49th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Delivered by Nicola Paccamiccio

Thank you, Mr President.

We welcome the report of the High Commissioner, and echo in the strongest terms its conclusion that the Council must consider further measures to strengthen accountability for serious human rights violations.

Following months of intense repression, Nicaragua’s civic space rating downgraded last December from ‘repressed’ to ‘closed’ – the worst rating possible – in the CIVICUS Monitor. An atmosphere of fear and violence prevails.

In the run-up to the November election, opposition candidates and government critics – including student leaders, defence lawyers and journalists – were detained under charges such as “acting to undermine national integrity,” based on repressive laws designed to criminalise all criticism. Such laws paved the way for the illegitimate election.

Civil society organisations in Nicaragua are operating in an increasingly hostile environment. The government has continued to close organisations by revoking their legal status – at this point there are more than 60 organisations who had their legal status cancelled within the past year, from humanitarian and human rights groups to business and academic entities. In February, dozens of political prisoners were convicted following summary and arbitrary trials. The situation for jailed political prisoners remains dire, particularly in light of the many reports of ill-treatment and torture.

Government threats have forced more journalists to flee the country in recent months. Surveillance and self-censorship are commonplace. Reporters have been personally targeted, summoned and threatened with charges.

Given the continued serious violations and impunity, and the unwillingness of the authorities to cooperate and engage with regional and international mechanisms, it is essential, as concluded by the High Commissioner, that the Council takes a more robust approach to the human rights crisis. We call on the Council to urgently establish an investigation and accountability mechanism at this Session.

Thank you.

Civic space in Nicaragua is rated as "closed" by the CIVICUS Monitor