IACHR Condemns Growing Harassment in Nicaragua

January 6, 2021

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Washington, DC—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemned the escalation of harassment in Nicaragua against people who have been identified as dissidents, human rights defenders, and victims of human rights violations and their families. In response, the IACHR urged the State to cease these acts immediately.

Based on the information and testimonies received by MESENI, the IACHR warned of the intensification of acts of harassment against people who have been identified as dissidents, human rights defenders, and victims of state repression. These acts take the form of deployment of police teams and civilians outside people's homes during the day. The operations in question aim to prevent these individuals and their families from leaving the premises and to identify and search any other person who enters or leaves. Other individuals have allegedly been subjected to monitoring, threats, and raids.

In addition, the IACHR was informed that in the early hours of December 4, 2020, Carlos Pavón and Anielka Mendoza—relatives of Richard Pavón and Hammer García, who were murdered in April 2018—and the leaders of the Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco, Neyma Hernández and Ivania Álvarez, were summoned to appear before the police, despite no legal grounds or justification for this having been provided. According to the available information, when they attempted to leave their homes to attend the police summons, both they and their families were prevented from doing so by the very police officers who were surrounding their homes, as described above.

The IACHR also heard the testimony of Karen Lacayo, a relative of prisoner Edward Lacayo. Ms. Lacayo reported that her livelihood has been seriously affected as she has been prevented from leaving her home in recent weeks due to the intimidating effect of permanent police surveillance there. This police presence is also jeopardizing the small business selling basic goods that she runs from her home due to the fear that it allegedly generates among her clients. According to publicly available information and MESENI reports, this type of "police confinement" and surveillance, monitoring, and harassment have also been experienced by Miguel Mora, a former prisoner and director of the 100% Noticias media outlet; Medardo Mairena, a former prisoner and active Campesino leader, who the police are preventing from leaving Managua; as well as various leaders from Managua, Tipitapa, Diriá, Granada, and Nandaime, among other locations.

The IACHR was also informed of the arrest of Dorlin Antonio Montenegro Muñoz on November 29, 2020, in the town of Meloconcito, 10 kilometers from Wiwilí. No warrant was shown nor was a reason given for his arrest, nor was information provided on where he would be detained. It took his family two days to ascertain his whereabouts. After he had been arrested, the homes of two of his relatives were violently raided by the police, without a warrant being shown. Furthermore, four members of the Montenegro family were murdered in 2019, and no investigation into these events has been announced to date.

The IACHR also received testimonies regarding the police detention of a team from the Permanent Committee on Human Rights (CPDH) at a two-hour meeting on December 8. In addition to being subjected to permanent police surveillance of their facilities, three members were detained in Somoto by the local police when collecting testimonies and providing support for the family of Gerardo de Jesús Gutiérrez Gutiérrez, who was murdered on December 6, 2020, in Honduran territory. They were also mistreated, and the information they had collected on the case was confiscated, after which they were released and forced to leave Somoto for Managua under threat of arrest or legal charges.

The IACHR observed that this increase in acts of harassment coincided with the "no political prisoners at Christmas" campaign, which civil society organizations launched to demand the release of all people who have been deprived of their freedom during the human rights crisis. The IACHR urged the State of Nicaragua to immediately cease these acts of harassment and release those who have been deprived of their freedom since the human rights crisis began and to restore democratic guarantees and ensure truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of nonrepetition in response to 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. 002/21