Nicaragua: Rights experts denounce closure of more than 700 civil society organizations


In a letter to the Nicaraguan government on Monday, the group of 16 UN experts confirmed that the action “represents a clear pattern of suppression of public space”.

The UN experts reiterated a statement from the High Commissioner for Human Rights about the crackdown earlier this year.

They were shocked at the magnitude of the closures by the National Assembly at the request of the government – ​​more than 700 closures, of which 487 were in the past month.

Counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering legislation is being abused – UN experts

bending laws

While the space for non-governmental organizations to operate in has diminished since the political protests against President Daniel Ortega’s administration began in 2018, recent enforcement of a 2020 Foreign Agents Act and a 2022 Act on the Regulation and audit of non-profit organizations Organizations (NPO) has implemented accelerated closures.

Ahead of the NPO law that came into effect in May, the experts provided legal analysis and their reservations.

In particular, the law imposes cumbersome administrative and registration procedures, the disclosure of beneficiaries’ data and significantly limits foreign funding.

To date, the experts have received no response to their concerns.

“We are sorry to see that, once again, anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering laws are being abused to unnecessarily and disproportionately restrict the activities of civil society and fundamental freedoms,” the experts said, pointing to a global trend.

Squash rights

They claimed the closures have affected not only human rights organizations, including those working for the rights of women and indigenous peoples, but also organizations that promote democratic values ​​and counter the negative effects of climate change.

The move has also affected associations providing humanitarian aid and medical services, as well as educational, cultural and artistic institutions and religious foundations.

“This situation will have even more devastating consequences for marginalized individuals and groups who depend on these services for their survival, for example, rural and indigenous communities, children and young people, women, migrants and asylum seekers,” the experts said.

Activists expelled abroad

The UN experts expressed concern about the deterrent effect these closures are having on civil society, noting that hundreds of activists have already fled the country and have taken refuge in neighboring states for fear of reprisals.

We urge the state to refrain from further closures and to immediately reverse these severe restrictions on associations,” said the experts.

“A well-functioning, well-established and diverse civic and political space is key in any democratic country.”

Special rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to investigate and report on a specific human rights issue or situation in a country. The positions are honorable and the experts are not paid for their work.

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