IACHR and OHCHR Demand an End to Arbitrary Arrests and the Release of All Individuals Detained Since the Start of the Crisis in Nicaragua

July 9, 2021

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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 condemn the recent arrests of three peasant leaders and two student leaders in Nicaragua and urge the State to end arbitrary arrests and release all individuals detained in the context of the ongoing crisis.

According to reports received by the Commission, Nicaragua's National Police arrested Medardo Mairena Sequeira, Pedro Joaquín Mena Amador, Freddy Alberto Navas López, Lesther Lenin Alemán Alfaro, and Max Isaac Jerez Meza on July 5. The first three are members of the Peasant Movement and the last two are members of the Nicaraguan University Alliance. Lesther Alemán and Freddy Navas are also beneficiaries of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR. The Commission is concerned that the Government of Nicaragua appears to be targeting peasant and student groups, which played key roles in the protests launched on April 18, 2018, and in the national dialogue held that year. One of these detainees, Medardo Mairena Sequeira, had publicly expressed the wish to be a presidential candidate in the election that is scheduled for November 7. These five arrests join 21 others that have been reported in recent weeks by the IACHR and the OHCHR, including five presidential candidates, opposition leaders, well-known human rights defenders, businesspeople, and independent journalists. More than 130 individuals remain in detention for their involvement in protests held in April 2018, according to civil society.

The National Police said in a press release that recent detentions are linked to crimes allegedly committed in 2018 and to alleged violations of Act 1055, "Defense of the People's Rights to Independence, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination for Peace," using ambiguous definitions of these alleged crimes.

None of the recent detainees have so far been able to contact their families or legal representatives of their own choice. The IACHR and the OHCHR have also been informed that, on July 6, the legal team of Nicaragua's Permanent Human Rights Commission (CPDH, by its Spanish acronym) was forced to leave the facilities of the Legal Assistance Department, where they were seeking information about the place of detention of peasant leaders they represent. The same thing happened to the families of student leaders and to independent journalists who were trying to cover these events.

The IACHR and the OHCHR will continue to cooperate—based on their mandates to protect, promote, and defend human rights—to get Nicaraguan State authorities to end repression and take action to restore democratic safeguards in the country. The IACHR and the OHCHR urge the international community to step up its efforts to achieve an end to human rights violations in Nicaragua.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is the main UN body in the field of human rights. The General Assembly entrusted the High Commissioner and her Office with the mission of promoting and protecting all the human rights of all people. At States' request, the OHCHR provides assistance to develop technical capacities and 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.

No. 171/21

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