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Urgent Interventions

Press Release: The arbitrary decision to annul the legal personality of the CENIDH marks the definitive entry of the country into a dictatorial regime


Paris-Geneva, 13December 2018 - The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, apartnership of FIDH and OMCT, rejects the cancellation of the legal status offour organisations by the Nicaraguan National Assembly. This decisiondemonstrates that the Assembly has become a summary court dedicated to therepression of civil society organisations in the country.

On 12 December 2018,the National Assembly, at the urgent request of the Ministry of Interiorpresented on the same day, canceled the legal status of the Nicaraguan Centerfor Human Rights (CENIDH), a member organization of FIDH and the OMCTSOS-Torture Network. The explanatory memorandum states that the CENIDH hasdistorted its legal personality by not acting in accordance with the aims andobjectives for which it was granted legal personality, "such as the achievementof peace and justice in Nicaragua", indicates the text of the request forannulment.

TheObservatory expresses its great concern after having been informed that todaythe public force is surrounding the entrance to CENIDH’s headquarters, therebyobstructing workers from entering there, telling them that "they are nolonger authorised". The Observatory calls on the authorities to respectand guarantee the physical integrity of all CENIDH workers.

"Thisdecision constitutes an arbitrary restriction of the right to freedom ofassociation in violation of Nicaragua's international obligations. This is clearlyan act of retaliation for its active denunciation of human rights violationssince its inception in 1990. We reiterate our solidarity with the CENIDH",said Dimitris Christopoulos, President of the FIDH.

"Thisoutrage is an example of the model of repression aimed at destroyingindependent civil society in Nicaragua. For 30 years, the CENIDH has been ahope for all victims of human rights violations. Its closure seems to be amessage to the Nicaraguan people not to denounce human rights violations, butit will not succeed in silencing the human rights movement," saidGerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.

CENIDH is the fourthNGO to have been stripped of its legal status by the National Assembly in thelast two weeks, arguing that they are all part of a coup attempt tooverthrow the Nicaraguan government. Yesterday, the organization "Let'sMake Democracy" had its legal personality withdrawn, and on 11 December,the Institute for Strategic Studies and Public Policy (IEEPP) also lost itslegal personality. Finally, on 29 November, the National Assembly annulled thelegal status of the feminist organization Centro de Información y Servicios deAsesoría en Salud (CISAS).

In order to dismantlestudent, rural and political activism, the Ortega-Murillo regime has deployedviolent repression in recent months, killing more than 300 people and detaininghundreds of arbitrary detainees. As if that were not enough, the government nowwants to silence civil society by attacking NGOs that are opposed to it by removingtheir legal status.

In this context, theObservatory expresses its concern and strongly condemns the deletion of thelegal personality of the CENIDH. We call on the authorities to immediatelyreverse this decision and put an end to all types of harassment against theCENIDH and other organisations, as well as against all human rights defendersin Nicaragua.

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) is a partnership createdin 1997 by the FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and aimsto intervene to prevent or remedy concrete situations of repression againsthuman rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of,the European Union mechanism for human rights defenders implemented byinternational civil society.

For more information,please contact:

FIDH: Samuel Hanryon(French, English): + 33 6 72 28 28 28 42 94 / José Carlos Thissen (Spanish): +51 95 41 31 650

OMCT: Miguel Martín: +41 22 809 49 39

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