Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (13 December) on recent developments in Nicaragua:
In a week in which we are commemorating the adoption 70 years ago of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights around the world, the abrupt revocation yesterday by the Nicaraguan National Assembly of the legal personality of respected human rights organisations fills us with the greatest concern. This measure is tantamount to a ban. The NGOs that have been affected by this punitive measure have stood up for the human rights of all peace-loving Nicaraguans. Freedom of association and assembly as well as the right to demonstrate as part of the freedom of assembly are essential to any democracy. I call on those responsible to facilitate the important work of human rights organisations and to return to a national dialogue.
Yesterday, the Nicaraguan National Assembly revoked the legal status of two leading human rights organisations, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH)) and Hagamos Democracia. This step was intended to force the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to suspend their work. The arbitrary revocation of the legal status of these human rights organisations that are critical of the government is part of a series of measures against civil society groups and individuals working to uphold human rights, justice and democracy in Nicaragua.
CENIDH has long been one of Nicaragua’s leading human rights organisations. Over its 28-year history, the organisation has defended thousands of victims of human rights violations. CENIDH has also documented human rights violations taking place since the outbreak of political unrest in mid-April this year. On 10 December, the Nicaraguan police denied CENIDH permission to hold a peace march on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and declared that the organisation was under investigation for terrorist attacks. In addition to CENIDH, other NGOs have also had their legal status revoked in recent days, including CISAS (Centro de Información y Servicios de Asesoría en Salud) and the think tank IEEPP (Instituto de Estudios Estratégicos y Políticas Públicas). In the past, Germany has supported projects by and worked closely with affected organisations such as CENIDH, Hagamos Democracia, IEEPP and CISAS.