On 15 September, a statement supported by Peace Brigades International and 15 other organisations was presented to the UN Human Rights Council.
The statement, which calls for the guarantee and protection of the right to life for Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities in Nicaragua, was read by Amaru Ruiz, human rights activist, biologist, researcher and environmentalist, president of the Fundación del Río (River Foundation), an institution founded in 190 which focused on conservation and sustainable development in South East Nicaragua. He has lived in exile since 2018.
The full statement is as follows:
“On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we welcome the High Commissioner’s oral update on the situation in Nicaragua. We echo her concerns regarding the profound deterioration of the human rights situation in the country.
In recent months, we have seen arbitrary arrests, raids, criminal prosecutions, criminalization of protest, the cancellation of the legal status of 55 national and international organizations, as well as the implementation of restrictive laws undermining fundamental freedoms.
In particular, since the end of May, 37 people, including seven presidential hopefuls, opposition leaders, activists, human rights defenders, journalists, students and businessmen have been arbitrarily detained, bringing the number of political prisoners to more than 150.
We are alarmed by the State’s omission, negligence and impunity in the face of the recurrent attacks against indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region with the aim of widespread land-grab.
The most recent incident was a massacre of 23 August, in the Mayangna Sauni As Territory, within the core zone of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, in which at least nine people from the Miskitu and Mayangna indigenous peoples are known to have been killed.
Since 2015, these communities have repeatedly denounced the systematic increase in the invasion of their territories, the lack of protection of their collective rights and the environmental deterioration caused by extensive cattle ranching, logging and mining activities. Indeed, some have even had to leave their territories to safeguard their lives.
We call for the guarantee and protection of the right to life of these communities, their right to land and territory, as well as their right to defend human rights, through the restoration of indigenous and Afro-descendant territories, as well as investigation processes that allow for the clarification of the facts, identification of those responsible, access to justice and guarantees of non-repetition for the families of the victims.
Due to the continuous denunciation since 2020 by Amaru Ruíz, president of the Fundación del Río, of the situation of violation of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, on 8 September 2021 the Nicaraguan Public Prosecutor’s Office presented the communiqué 075-2021 in which Mr. Ruíz is accused of infringing article 30 of Law 1042 or the Special Law on Cybercrime, yet another example of the persecution and criminalisation of human rights defenders in Nicaragua.”
1. Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR)
2. Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)
3. Colectivo de Derechos Humanos Nicaragua Nunca Más
4. Fundación del Río
5. Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM-Defensoras)
6. International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR)
7. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
8. Mesa de Articulación LGBTIQ+ en el Exilio Costa Rica (MESART)
9. Movimiento Campesino Anticanal
10. Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT)
11. Peace Brigades International
12. Red Internacional de Derechos Humanos (RIDH)
13. Red Internacional de Derechos Humanos – Europa (RIDH-E)
14. The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights
15. Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos – Guatemala (UDEFEGUA)
16. Women’s Link Worldwide