MIL-OSI Europe: MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION On the instrumentalisation of justice as a repressive tool in Nicaragua – B9-0301/2022

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Source: European Parliament

B9‑0301/2022

European Parliament resolution on the instrumentalisation of justice as a repressive tool in Nicaragua

(2022/2701(RSP))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Nicaragua, in particular those of 16 December 2021, 8 July 2021, 7 October 2020, 19 December 2019, 14 March 2019 and 31 May 2018,

 

 having regard to the Declarations of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on behalf of the European Union and in particular the one of 8 November 2021 on the elections in Nicaragua,

 

 having regard to the Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/607 of 4 May 2020 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1276 of 30 July 2021 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Nicaragua and to the decision renewing such sanctions until 15 October 2022,

 

 having regard to the oral update by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet at the 49th Session of the Human Rights Council of 14 December 2021 on the situation of human rights in Nicaragua,

 

 having regard to the Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Nicaragua,

 

 having regard to the press release of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of 11 February 2022,

 

 having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966,

 

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

 

 having regard to the American Convention on Human Rights “Pact of San Jose” of 1969,

 

 having regard to the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998,

 

 having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders of June 2004, as updated in 2008,

 

 having regard to the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean,

 

 having regard to the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and Central America on the other, in particular to its Article 1,

 

 having regard to Articles 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure.

 

 

A. Whereas, in recent years, the Nicaraguan government has adopted an increasingly repressive regulatory framework, such as the “Law for Regulation of Foreign Agents”, the “Special Law of Cybercrime”, the “Law against Hate Crimes”,  “Law No. 1055 on the defence of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-Determination for Peace”, “Law No.977 against Money Laundering, Financing of Terrorism”, “Law No.1060”, which amends Nicaragua’s Code of Criminal Procedure to extend the previous 48-hour pretrial preventive detention period for suspects and the Constitutional Amendment to Article 37;

B. Whereas human rights defenders, environmental activists and others expressing dissenting opinions of the Nicaraguan Government have increasingly become the targets of death threats, intimidation, online defamation campaigns, harassment, surveillance, assault, judicial persecution and arbitrary deprivation of liberty for political reasons;

C. Whereas the human rights situation in Nicaragua remains particularly worrying, especially with regard to the exercise of political rights during the elections of 7 November, in a context of systematic and arbitrary arrests and incarceration, harassment and intimidation of presidential pre-candidates, opposition leaders, students and rural leaders, journalists, human rights defenders and indigenous representatives; whereas those arbitrarily arrested face ambiguous criminal allegations without sufficient evidence in a process marred by serious violations of procedural guarantees;

D. Whereas attacks on freedom of expression have intensified and threats by the Public Prosecutor’s Office against several journalists and media workers have prompted many of them to leave Nicaragua to seek protection; whereas similar patterns of repression are being registered against human rights defenders, environmental defenders, women and LGBTIQ activists, social and political leaders, business leaders, lawyers and medical and NGO personnel, among others; whereas, since April 2018 the National Assembly has cancelled more than 400 non-profit organizations and foundations, including at least 40 women’s organizations and they have also cancelled the legal status of several universities to quash student dissent;

E. Whereas the ongoing deterioration of human rights and civil and political rights is taking place in a context of growing endemic violence; whereas the indigenous peoples of Nicaragua have been suffering frequent aggressions and lack of protection of their rights, in addition to the environmental deterioration caused by extensive cattle ranching, illegal logging and mining activities; whereas homicides and aggressions related to territorial disputes and against indigenous people in Nicaragua registered since January 2020, especially in the Northern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region, remain unpunished;

F. Whereas the development and consolidation of democracy and the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is an integral part of the EU’s external policies, included in the Association Agreement between the EU and the countries of Central America of 2012;

1. Stresses that the judicial system lacks independence from the Executive branch; expresses concern about the manipulation of criminal law and the use of the justice system as a tool to criminalise the exercise of civil and political rights, such as freedom of expression and protection of human rights;

2. Calls for the repeal of restrictive laws such as the “Law for Regulation of Foreign Agents”, the “Special Law of Cybercrime”, the “Law against Hate Crimes”, the “Law on the Defence of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-Determination for Peace”, and the reform to the related Code of Criminal Procedure; strongly condemns the improper use of institutions and laws by Nicaragua’s authoritarian government with the intention of criminalising civil society organisations, human rights defenders, the media and political opponents;

3. Deeply regrets that no judicial action has been taken to ensure justice and reparation for the victims of serious human rights violations since the 2018 crackdown against protests;

4. Condemns the abusive detention, the lack of guarantees in trials and illegal convictions of political prisoners that have been taking place in Nicaragua; urges the Government to restore guarantees for the full exercise of the civil and political rights of all Nicaraguans, to cease the persecution of the opposition, the press and civil society and to immediately and unconditionally release those detained since April 2018 and to annul the legal proceedings against them; recalls that the ongoing repression, arrest, intimidation and harassment are undermining the trust in the Nicaraguan institutions;

5. Denounces the lack of democratic guarantees for the elections held on 7 November 2021, condemns the elimination of all credible electoral competition, depriving the Nicaraguan people of their right to freely elect their representatives and the crushing of the integrity of the electorate by the systematic incarceration, harassment and intimidation of presidential pre-candidates, opposition leaders, student and rural leaders, journalists, human rights defenders and business representatives;

6. Expresses its concern for the life and physical and psychological integrity of political prisoners who are suffering abusive treatment in detention which may amount to torture; in particular, expresses deep concern for those who suffer from serious health problems worsened during their detention, such as Jorge Hugo Torres Jimenez who died on 12 February 2022; expresses deep concern at the situation of women prisoners who face additional aggressions due to their gender; underlines the increase in intimidation, aggression and ill-treatment of prisoners’ families, especially during visiting hours; recalls that Nicaragua must comply with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules);

7. Expresses its concern at the situation of lawyers and organisations providing legal assistance to victims of human rights violations, who face increased intimidation and obstacles to their work, especially arbitrary detentions; calls on the Nicaraguan government to end human rights violations against human rights defenders and political opponents, including sexual violence and other ill-treatment in detention, to publicly condemn and sanction any attack or harassment against political activists, journalists and human rights defenders and to ensure that all political prisoners have access to a lawyer and that their families are given visiting rights;

8. Strongly condemns the increasing legal restrictions on civic space and expressions of dissent taking place in a broader context of growing polarisation and a climate of intimidation and threat, as denounced by human rights defenders in the country; condemns the existence of a pattern of serious violations of civil and political rights with a worrying increase in acts of intimidation, stigmatization, threats, seizure of equipment and arbitrary arrests against opposition parties, journalists and other media workers, students, indigenous people, human rights defenders and civil society as well as their family members; condemns furthermore the increasing violence and intimidation faced by human rights defenders, LGBTIQ people, women and indigenous activists in the country, including femicides;

9. Expresses its deep concern over the repressions of free and independent media in the country, including the confiscation of media outlets, police harassment, prosecution, threats and arbitrary detentions of journalists, which have forced more than 100 journalists into exile; underlines the importance of free and independent media in a democratic society; calls on the Government of Nicaragua to respect media freedom and to stop the criminalisation and judicial prosecution of journalists and independent media;

10. Highlights and commends the key role played by civil society, human rights and environmental defenders and journalists in Nicaragua and calls on the European Commission and Member States to agree and deliver support to civil society organisations, human rights defenders and environmental defenders in the country and to implement actions and programmes aimed at improving the security situation for exiled human rights defenders;

 

11. Stresses the importance of building, promoting and defending a vibrant and empowered civil society, rooted in democracy, equality and freedom of speech and association; reiterates, once more, to this end, its call on the Government of Nicaragua to refrain from any judicial action limiting the space of civil society and human rights defenders and to allow civil society organizations to operate in a safe and enabling environment, without fear of reprisal;

 

12. Is appalled by the increasing criminalisation and judicial persecution of environmental defenders in the country; condemns the continued attacks and aggressions against the indigenous people of Nicaragua, which, in addition to the environmental deterioration caused by extensive cattle ranching, illegal logging and mining activities, is seriously putting their human rights at risk; calls on the government of Nicaragua to fulfil its obligations under the Escazú Agreement, to guarantee access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters;

 

13. Calls on the government of Nicaragua to urgently allow the return of international organizations into the country, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in order to monitor the human rights situation in the country;

 

14. Calls on the government of Nicaragua to implement the UN Human Rights Council resolution that establishes for one year a group of human rights experts to oversee credible, impartial and exhaustive investigations, preserve evidence and ensure accountability for the serious violations that have occurred since 2018; calls on the Nicaraguan institutions to ensure that impunity does not persist with respect to the serious human rights violations and abuses that have occurred, providing victims with access to justice and full reparation;

 

15. Calls on the Government of Nicaragua to initiate an inclusive national dialogue to ensure a peaceful and democratic solution to the political, social and human rights crisis;

 

16. Calls on the Government of Nicaragua to take steps to re-establish a credible, fair and transparent electoral process for the municipal elections scheduled in November 2022;

 

17. Calls on the European Union to continue prioritising, through its external action and dialogue, the promotion of democracy, the rule of law, equality and media freedom and to work with the international community to defend dialogue, democracy and human rights in Nicaragua; asks the EU Delegation to closely monitor developments that are taking place in the country, including trial monitoring and visiting opposition leaders and government critics in prison or under house arrest; calls on the Commission to ensure that its cooperation assistance enhances support to civil society, notably human rights defenders, and that it does not in any way contribute to the current repressive policies of the Nicaraguan authorities;

18. Calls on the Council to consider enlarging the list of individual and entities to be sanctioned and underlines that the implemented sanctions should not harm the Nicaraguan people; recalls that, in light of the Association Agreement between the EU and the countries of Central America, Nicaragua must respect and consolidate the principles of the rule of law, democracy and human rights; and demands that, in the light of the current circumstances, the democratic principles and fundamental human rights clause of the Association Agreement be triggered as concerns Part IV of the agreement; calls on the Council to continue avoiding any measures that could potentially add to the hardship of the Nicaraguan people and to consistently target only those responsible for anti-democratic developments in Nicaragua;

19. Calls on the EU Delegation and the Member States with diplomatic missions on the ground to fully implement the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders and to provide all appropriate support to those human rights defenders that are detained, including prison visits and trial monitoring and to publicly denounce abuses against human rights defenders and independent media and to support their work and calls on the EU Delegation and the Member States to use all available instruments to increase their support for human rights defenders’ work, and, where appropriate, to facilitate the issuing of emergency visas, and provide temporary shelter in the EU Member States;

20. Calls on European companies operating in Nicaragua to ensure strict due diligence in respect of human rights throughout their supply chains;

21. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States, the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly, the Central American Parliament, and the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Nicaragua.

 

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