Is Ortega demolishing Freedom of Association in Nicaragua?

"This systematization serves as a fighting tool for the defense of Human Rights and also for the construction of historical memory," says Mónica López Baltodano of Fundación Popol Na

This Monday, February 21, three organizations of the Civil Society of Nicaragua, the Nicaraguan Platform of NGO Networks, Popol Na and Fundación del Río, presented two systematization reports “on the demolition of Freedom of Association in Nicaragua”, Said documents according to indicate the panelists were formally presented and handed over to people delegated by the Diplomatic Corps accredited in Costa Rica and allied organizations.

“In 2019, there were nine legal statuses canceled and assets seized from non-profit organizations in Nicaragua, including Fundación del Río and Popol Na. In this month of February 2022, almost three years later, “the State of Nicaragua not only did not attend to the recommendations of the UPR to guarantee Freedom of Association, but also canceled 96 legal statuses of national and international NGOs, medical associations, cultural associations, universities, trade unions and business organizations,” the organizations said in a statement.


With these cancellation of legal personality and the confiscation of property and real estate, from these organizations in all the aforementioned sectors, it left those who benefited from the projects carried out by the organizations helpless and vulnerable. “In many of these cases, assets were confiscated defected their assets and left thousands of Nicaraguans who were beneficiaries of their development projects unattended; It sent dozens of professionals and workers into exile and unemployment,” the activists point out.


The government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, through the Ministry of the Interior, Migob and the National Assembly, has legislated and established a financial control that “stifles freedom of association in the country, to replace it with absolute political control of the citizenry.” reads in the statement.


The two reports presented by the Nicaraguan Platform of NGO Networks, Popol Na and Fundación del Río, explain the absolute power that the Ortega Murillo government wants to have, through repressive laws, assert the signatory organizations “document the instrumentalization of power that denies justice to organizations, and the instrumentalization of the legislative power that has created a regulatory body (foreign agents, sovereign security and cybercrime) that criminalizes freedom of association, which is even putting development cooperation at risk.”


The repression against all forms of organization, criticism or protest has been documented by multiple organizations at the national and international level. For this reason, in December 2021 the Civicus Monitor gave the scale of civic space “CLOSED” in Nicaragua.

You can see the full conference here

The environmentalist Amaru Ruiz, director of Fundación de Río, explained that every four years the HRC reviews the countries’ compliance with Human Rights and every two years there is an intermediate review, in the third review cycle in “the year In 2019, Nicaragua received 259 recommendations, which according to the Ortega government received 135 recommendations and noted 124 “are unfounded and distort reality.” According to the Environmentalist, it is currently in the fourth review period.


The recommendations given to the State of Nicaragua were: fundamental freedoms, access to justice, these are linked to politics and arbitrary arrests, access to human rights organizations, as well as development and inequality, these were the emphasis of the recommendations. elaborated by the States of 27 countries in the review of the Universal periodic review, 29 of these recommendations are linked to the freedom and association of Nicaragua. Of which the State of Nicaragua “accepted 12 recommendations, 5 were noted down and 7 received by Nicaragua”, explains Ruiz.


The State of Nicaragua has failed to comply with the recommendations, among them, to restore the legal personality, property and real estate of Human Rights Defenders Associations and the media, on the contrary, more organizations had their legal personality canceled and their assets seized, among them political parties, trade associations, universities, international organizations, non-profit organizations and the media.

For her part, Mónica López Baltodano, an activist from the Popol Na Foundation, points out that the commitment with these documents is to keep the situation in Nicaragua current, in 2020 they delivered the first report to embassies and international organizations as a contribution to different campaigns, as an act of resistance “we have managed to make this systematization considering that the systematization serves as a fighting tool for the defense of human rights and also for the construction of historical memory,” argues the activist.


The delivery of these two reports to the Diplomatic Corps of 16 countries represents an effort to contribute to the detailed documentation of the crimes of the Ortega-Murillo regime against civil liberties and the Human Rights of the people of Nicaragua, to pay to ensure that , “in the future all crimes will be judged and that we will win justice,” the organizations point out.


She adds that this report contributes to the felt demand of the Nicaraguan population that demands the release of more than 170 political prisoners and achieve memory, preparation and justice for all victims of crimes”.


Important data that appears in these texts is the documented compilation of “115 attacks on different associative forms in the country, during the period 2007-2022. We are certain that there is a greater number of non-profit organizations that have had to close in Nicaragua.” the signatory organizations stand out.


The Nicaraguan Platform of NGO Networks, Popol Na and Fundación del Río publicly committed to continue defending rights and assure that they do not require a legal personality to fulfill their objectives. “No legal status is required to fight for a better Nicaragua. We affirm with absolute conviction that the confiscation of property and legal status will not prevent us from continuing to exercise our right to defend rights.”


You can read and download the full report by going here

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