DemocracyALERT: The Crackdown on Civil Society and Opposition Figures in Nicaragua Must Stop
The World Movement for Democracy is alarmed by the ongoing crackdown and arrest of civil society activists and presidential candidates in Nicaragua. The World Movement calls on the Nicaraguan government to immediately cease in its repression of opposition and civil society figures, release all political prisoners, and respect the rights of freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly in the lead up to elections in November 2021. The Nicaraguan government is detaining pro-democracy activists for allegedly violating the December 2020 treason law. In addition, the government is arresting student activists for their involvement in protests in 2018, accusing them of a host of crimes with no legal basis.
Since his return to power in 2007, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has changed laws to consolidate power and be allowed to run for re-election, which was not previously permitted in the Nicaraguan constitution. In 2018, peaceful protests erupted challenging unpopular reforms to the social security system. Since then, more than 100,000 Nicaraguans have gone into exile in neighboring countries, and over 140 political prisoners remain behind bars.
With elections scheduled for November 7, 2021, President Ortega and his government have accelerated their crackdown against the political opposition. Since June 2021, more than 20 political prisoners have been detained, including student activists and six presidential candidates. Families of activists are also being threatened and harassed, and their homes are routinely raided at all hours of the day. Close supporters and family members of these individuals have fled to neighboring countries in fear for their lives.
The Nicaraguan state’s continued detainment of opposition leaders and activists signals a reversal on the principles outlined in the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Democratic Charter and violates universally recognized human rights norms.
The World Movement expresses its solidarity with all those struggling for democracy in Nicaragua and joins other international voices in condemning President Ortega’s repressive and illegal actions.