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Presentation of the annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human Rights in  Nicaragua

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Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
46th session of the Human Rights Council
(Statement delivered in Spanish)

Geneva, 25 February 2021

Madame President,

I present to you my report on Nicaragua, in accordance with resolution 43/2, and covering the period from 1 August 2019 to 31 December 2020.

Since my last oral update to this Council, the socio-political and human rights crisis in Nicaragua, erupted in April 2018, has been exacerbated by the damage caused by both the COVID-19 pandemic and hurricanes Eta and Iota.

Mientras Nicaragua se acerca a las elecciones generales del 7 de noviembre de 2021, el Estado de derecho sigue deteriorándose. La adopción reciente de varias leyes contrarias a los derechos a la libertad de asociación, expresión, la participación política y las garantías al debido proceso, constituye un claro ejemplo de la continua restricción del espacio cívico y democrático. A principios de este mes, dos prominentes organizaciones defensoras de la libertad de expresión se vieron obligadas a suspender sus actividades por las exigencias y controles introducidos por la Ley de Regulación de Agentes Extranjeros.

As Nicaragua approaches general elections on 7 November 2021, the rule of law continues to deteriorate. The recent adoption of several laws contrary to the rights to freedom of association, expression, political participation and due process is a clear example of the continued restriction of civic and democratic space. Earlier this month, two prominent organisations that advocate for freedom of expression were forced to suspend their activities due to the requirements and controls introduced by the “Foreign Agents Law” (Ley de Regulación de Agentes Extranjeros).

My Office has documented 117 cases of harassment, intimidation and threats by police officers or pro-government elements against students, peasants, political activists, human rights defenders and organisations of women and victims. 

We have also documented 34 cases of intimidation, threats, criminalisation and smear campaigns against media outlets and journalists considered to be "opponents". 

Arbitrary detentions continued, most of them for short periods.  Civil society sources report that more than 100 people continue to be deprived of their liberty for political reasons.

Indigenous communities continued to face land invasions and violent attacks by settlers, in addition to the devastating impact of the two hurricanes.

Human rights violations perpetrated during the 2018 social protests remain unpunished. We also received information about the increase in femicides and high rates of pregnancy among girls and adolescents.

Esteemed members of the Council,

I recognize the Government's efforts to increase social spending and contain the impact of the economic crisis, as well as the incipient signs of openness to humanitarian assistance by some UN agencies.

I must, however, highlight the poor record in implementing the recommendations contained in my previous report. The incorporation of a solid human rights approach and the participation of the most vulnerable people can contribute significantly to the resolution of the current crisis and to reconstruction efforts after natural disasters.

Once again, I urge the Government to allow my Office access to the country to fulfil its mandate, which includes monitoring human rights in the context of the elections and providing technical advice to ensure the exercise of public freedoms. It is crucial that the necessary reforms be adopted to ensure free, fair and transparent elections.

I also urge this Council to continue monitoring the human rights situation in Nicaragua. I reiterate my Office’s readiness to provide technical assistance leading to the restoration of the full enjoyment of human rights in the country, in accordance with its international commitments.