Press Release

IACHR’s MESENI expresses concern over Nicaragua's strategy to prevent social protest

November 20, 2018

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Washington DC/ Managua. The Special Follow-Up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) confirms with concern that the State of Nicaragua has adopted a strategy to prevent any form of social protest or demonstration.

Since the publication of press releases by the National Police, which first blamed those who called for public demonstrations for the violent events that occurred there, and later declared illegal any demonstration that did not have prior authorization from the police authority, the MESENI identified limitations that violate international human rights standards.

The disproportionate preventive deployment of riot police personnel, as well as other police units in traditional protest locations, now joined the occupation of commercial establishments where small acts of protest had taken place. Thus, this pattern of extreme limitation of the right to protest manifested itself more concretely.

The arrests in Somoto and in a shopping center in Managua in recent days, with the subsequent indictment of criminal charges for singing the national anthem in a small act of public protest or for photographing the police deployed in the shopping center, now show the decision to criminalize any demonstration of dissent.

As the IACHR has insistently told the State of Nicaragua, social protest and freedom of expression cannot be seen as a threat in democratic societies. In particular, in the context in which the country lives today, social protest and freedom of expression are tools that will contribute to exploring dialogue mechanisms that ensure peace, reconciliation and guarantee truth, justice and reparation to which the victims are entitled, especially the hundreds of families who have lost their loved ones.

The IACHR calls for the generation of actions that also ensure the non-repetition of the human rights violations that have been observed during the crisis that the country has been facing since last April. The exercise of freedom of expression and the right to protest will also contribute to the construction of these actions in dialogue.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 248/18