Nicaragua: Violence against Civil Society Reaches New Peak

Washington  –  May 31, 2018 —  In response to Nicaraguan authorities increasingly targeting peaceful protestors and human rights activists with intimidation and violent attacks, including the arrest this week of six members of the Comisión Permanente de Derechos Humanos (CPDH, one of the country’s leading human rights groups), Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The growing number of house searches, arrests and killings carried out by Nicaragua’s police and security forces against members of civil society organizations, including CPDH, is part of the accelerating deterioration of human rights and democratic institutions in Nicaragua,” said Carlos Ponce, director of Latin America programs at Freedom House.

“The government, which press outlets hold responsible for the deaths of nearly 100 demonstrators since mid-April, should immediately release the CPDH members and end its targeting of youth and religious leaders and human rights activists.”

Freedom House recommends the following actions:

  • The United States should impose sanctions — including bans on travel to the United States, and asset freezes through the Global Magnitsky Act — against leading figures in the government of President Daniel Ortega.
  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights should develop measures to protect CPDH staff from arbitrary arrest.
  • The Organization of American States and Nicaragua’s neighbours should condemn the abuses and press for an immediate end to the violence.

Nicaragua is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2018, and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2017.