Washington, DC—On September 28, the Nicaraguan National Police declared that public demonstrations are now illegal in Nicaragua; the following day, the state deployed riot police against anti-government protestors attempting to exercise their basic right to peaceful dissent. The ban against public demonstrations was preceded by a long, sustained pattern of other abuses against Nicaraguans, including the illegal and arbitrary arrest of hundreds of people under a broad anti-terrorism law and the deaths of over 300 people since mid-April, the majority at the hands of government-linked forces.
By banning all demonstrations, Nicaraguan authorities are signaling that despite ongoing international condemnation, they are intent on trampling basic civil liberties. This blatant disrespect for human rights will only further isolate the Ortega-Murillo government internationally and will likely result in greater scrutiny.
The Nicaraguan government should demonstrate that it is committed to seeking constructive, peaceful solutions to the country’s ongoing crisis by immediately lifting the ban against demonstrations, stopping the persecution of the opposition, and re-committing to meaningful dialogue with the opposition about the fundamental political issues that are dividing the country. Additionally, the Ortega government should promptly follow the recommendations recently issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concerning mass arbitrary detentions, as well as the recommendations issued earlier this year following an official IACHR visit to the country.