Washington, DC—This morning, the Nicaraguan National Assembly revoked the legal status of two leading human rights organizations, the Nicaragua Center for Human Rights (Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos, CENIDH) and Hagamos Democracia. This will force the organizations to shut down operations and have their goods and assets seized by the state. The National Assembly justified the move by asserting the NGOs have misused their legal authority in order to incite violence and promote events to destabilize the country. However, no evidence supporting this account has been made public. The arbitrary, baseless revocation of the legal status of these non-profits fits into a broader pattern of aggressive repression of civil society groups and individuals working to uphold human rights, justice, and democracy in Nicaragua, according to research and advocacy group the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).
“This is another example of the Nicaraguan government moving to criminalize and silence civic organizations doing legitimate work to defend the rights of Nicaraguans,” said WOLA Director for Citizen Security Adriana Beltrán.
CENIDH has long been a leading human rights organization in Nicaragua. In its 28 years of work, the group has defended thousands of victims of human rights crimes. CENIDH has been documenting human rights abuses that have taken place since the outbreak of political unrest in mid-April. On December 10, the Nicaraguan police denied CENIDH a permit for a peace march commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stating that the organization was under investigation for terrorism charges. Asides from CENIDH, other civil society groups have had their legal status revoked in recent days, including CISAS (Centro de Información y Servicios de Asesoría en Salud), an organization that promotes health and human rights, and policy think tank the IEEPP (Instituto de Estudios Estratégicos y Políticas Públicas).
“WOLA strongly condemns all government actions that seek to intimidate and obstruct the brave work of organizations that are supporting victims of human rights violations in their search for truth, justice, and rule of law in Nicaragua,” said Beltrán.