As we of IM-Defensoras denounced during the month of June and the first week of July, the Nicaraguan government has arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned a group of women human rights defenders, feminist activists, and women political leaders, as well as other government critics and candidates running in the upcoming presidential elections.
These illegal arrests have involved constant violations of the rights of those detained, which include the denial of the right to publicize the trials, the obstruction of the right to a defense, the rejection of the right to have family visits and meetings with their lawyers, and the unwillingness to verify their physical and emotional health and integrity. Family members, lawyers and human rights defenders have repeatedly requested this information from both the National Police and the Judiciary, but to no avail.
This encirclement of the women political prisoners, as well as the concealment of information and implied lack of communication, has recently escalated, reaching its high point last Monday afternoon, July 5th, when the National Police set up a control post to prevent family members from taking water to the people imprisoned at the New Chipote prison. That same July 5th, the National Police also attacked a group of women human rights defenders from the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH), who were seeking information about two detained persons at the Judicial Assistance Department (DAJ). They were violently removed amidst both verbal and physical attacks from the National Police.
It is important to note that IM-Defensoras has registered extremely grave acts of violence against women political prisoners, which come to approximately 540 acts of violence against women defenders in the first quarter of this year. They include comrades who have been granted precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights and provisional measures issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The aggression includes acts of surveillance and harassment; violation of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and movement; threats; and persecution. The main persons responsible for this aggression have been identified as police officials, agents of the Department of Special Police Operations (DOEP), and armed civilian personnel.
For all the above reasons, we hereby express our deepest concern for the integrity and security of the arrested women defenders and their families. We also demand respect for their constitutional rights and guarantees and, specifically, their rights to due process of law, the presumption of innocence, defense, publicity of their causes, and immediate freedom. In this context, we urge the international community to remain vigilant regarding the difficult situation of women human rights defenders in Nicaragua.