IACHR Press Office
Washington, D.C./Panama City – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for Central America and the Dominican Republic emphatically condemn the latest human rights violations committed by the State of Nicaragua, which have escalated to an alarming degree in recent days.
On February 15, the Managua Court of Appeals announced a decision to deprive 94 individuals of their nationality, their political rights, and all their property. The court described these individuals—identified as political opponents of the current Nicaraguan government—as "fugitives" and "traitors". This court decision was adopted without a prior trial and condemns the affected individuals to "civil death," with serious consequences for them and for their families. Several human rights defenders who regularly cooperate with the IACHR and the OHCHR are among the affected individuals. It is unacceptable to criminalize the work done by these people, which is both legitimate and necessary in any democratic society. We therefore jointly call on the State to urgently revoke this decision.
This decision follows the release from prison on February 9 of 222 individuals who were also arbitrarily deprived of their Nicaraguan nationality after being "deported" to the United States, as a form of punishment. This is not based on Nicaraguan law and violates the principles of legality and non-retroactivity.
On February 9, the National Assembly had announced the fast-track approval of a reform of Article 21 of the constitution concerning nationality, as well as the adoption of a new law "regulating the loss of Nicaraguan nationality." Both pieces of legislation have been cited to deprive Nicaraguans who are considered government critics of their nationality, who are described as "traitors" to instill terror among the Nicaraguan people.
International human rights law and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness—to which Nicaragua is a State Party, as recently noted by the IACHR—ban the arbitrary deprivation of nationality, especially when it is politically motivated. We call on the State of Nicaragua to immediately revoke these pieces of legislation and to stop implementing them as a mechanism to punish dissidents.
According to the available reports, Matagalpa Bishop Rolando Álvarez was sentenced to 26 years in jail for "treason" on February 10, and he was also deprived of his nationality and political rights. It would appear that he was sentenced in violation of all procedural safeguards and is currently being held in isolation at a maximum-security facility. The IACHR and the OHCHR call for his immediate, unconditional release and for the release of more than 30 individuals who remain arbitrarily deprived of liberty in Nicaragua.
These events join the cases of more than 3,000 national and international NGOs who have had their legal status cancelled and their property confiscated in Nicaragua since 2018, leaving many other people without access to the services and assistance these NGOs used to provide.
Finally, the IACHR and the OHCHR urge the government of Nicaragua to end the persistent repression and persecution of supporters of a return of democracy to Nicaragua and other individuals intent on exercising their public liberties.
The IACHR and the OHCHR call on the international community to keep up and intensify all efforts aimed at protecting the human rights of Nicaraguans who have been forced to leave their country and/or who have become asylum seekers, refugees, or stateless people, and to assist these individuals' families both in Nicaragua and outside the country.
The Commission and the Regional Office of the OHCHR express their profound solidarity and their commitment to victims of these rights violations, their families, and all other individuals who continue to risk their own wellbeing, their future, and even their lives to defend human rights in Nicaragua. The IACHR and the OHCHR will continue to support these individuals' crucial efforts to restore the rule of law and human rights in the country.
The OHCHR is the main UN body in the field of human rights. The General Assembly entrusted the High Commissioner and his Office with the mission of promoting and protecting the human rights of all people. At States' request, the OHCHR provides technical assistance to support the enforcement of international human rights standards, in order to protect human rights and to ensure their effective enjoyment. The OHCHR helps governments—who are responsible for protecting human rights—to comply with their international obligations and supports individuals so they may stand up for their own rights. It also objectively flags human rights violations.
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.