[Urgent Alert] NICARAGUA / The National Police, paramilitary groups, and local authorities intensify threats, harassment, and criminalization against human rights defenders, independent news media, activists, and opposition leaders.

Since the first of December, a number of defenders, activists, and journalists from independent news media have denounced police harassment and restriction of movement, including orders to refrain from leaving their homes, backed up with the establishment of police squads carrying arms of war (AK47). 

There are also reports of the reception by women defenders and activists in different parts of the country of subpoenas requiring their appearance at police headquarters; those subpoenaed include defenders who have already been released from prison. Moreover, some have awakened to find their homes marked with threatening messages of hatred and stigmatization, such as “LEAD.”  

This wave of harassment and threats is taking place during the onset of religious Christmas festivities and the beginning of the Christmas without Political Prisoners Campaign, which consists of a series of collective actions as well as processes of territorial organization by groups opposing the government.   Some of these groups have made an effort to hold meetings in different areas of the country, but have been restricted and threatened with imprisonment. 

The right to professional legal counsel regarding police citations has been denied, and those women defenders who have appeared in court have been threatened with criminalization if they engage in any anti-government activities whatsoever in their communities. It is important to mention that in the cases of former political prisoners, the threats have been related to new trials and imprisonment.

The National Police continues to be the main perpetrator of these actions of persecution, with the support of armed civilians (paramilitary forces) and territorial control networks of the ruling party. 

These acts of political persecution are part of ongoing attacks experienced by feminist organizations and independent news media, along with women defenders and activists. .  

We call on the international community, international organizations, and human rights protection mechanisms to denounce this new upswing in persecution; to continue demanding that the Nicaraguan government put an end to repression and reestablish liberties; and to monitor this new stage of persecution and repression by the Nicaraguan government against organizations of the civil society.  

We of IM-Defensoras hereby denounce acts that place the personal integrity of women defenders, activists, and journalists at risk.  We express our solidarity with the organizations, feminist groups and news media persecuted by the Daniel Ortega government.

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