Press Release

Four Days Ahead of Nicaraguan Election, IACHR and OHCHR Denounce Lack of Guarantees for Rights and Liberties in the Country

November 4, 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 lack of guarantees for rights and liberties in Nicaragua's election process, four days ahead of the election scheduled for November 7. Both institutions believe it is essential to restore those guarantees and to remove all obstacles for the full participation of all individuals in the election process, in compliance with Nicaragua's international human rights obligations.

The IACHR and the OHCHR have observed increased repression and violations of human rights and fundamental liberties in the election context, and they have repeatedly urged Nicaraguan authorities to comply with the country's international human rights obligations. The IACHR and the OHCHR have stressed that cancelling the legal status of three political parties, arbitrarily arresting seven presidential candidates (and more than 30 further social and political leaders), and disqualifying a vice presidential candidate have destroyed the political plurality that the Government should have preserved during this election process. The IACHR and the OHCHR have also expressed their concern about the refusal to allow several foreign journalists to enter Nicaragua in recent weeks, and about the lack of response to requests for accreditation filed to be able to report on election day. Attacks on media outlets and journalists (including the August 13 raid on the daily La Prensa and the arrest of its general manager a day later) have also illegitimately restricted freedom of expression and the right to information, which are essential during electoral campaigns.

There have also been arbitrary restrictions of civil society's freedom of association, including those imposed by the Foreign Agents Act and the cancellation of the legal status of 45 civil society organizations during 2021, which further reduced civic platforms at a time when they should have been carefully protected. Public demonstrations are banned in the country, particularly those organized by individuals and organizations who are regarded as government critics.

The IACHR and the OHCHR stress their call on the Nicaraguan government for it to restore appropriate conditions to hold free and fair elections, agreed on through inclusive, constructive dialogue with all sectors in Nicaraguan society. It is essential for the government to restore the rule of law, release all the people who have been arbitrarily detained, and end attacks against individuals and organizations who are considered critical of the government, as well as against the media and against civil society. The IACHR and the OHCHR will continue to monitor the human rights situation in Nicaragua through all the mechanisms at their disposal. The IACHR has long been monitoring the country through its Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI, by its Spanish acronym). On October 28, 2021, the IACHR published its report . In the case of the OHCHR, its conclusions will be the basis for the oral update that the High Commissioner will deliver before the Human Rights Council during a special session devoted to Nicaragua that is set to be held on December 14, 2021. It will also lay the groundwork for a written report that will be sent to the Human Rights Council during the Council's 49th session.

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 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.

No. 292/21

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