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As democracy continues to deteriorate in Nicaragua, Indigenous peoples pay the price

The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), which represents Miskitu Indigenous peoples before the Interamerican Court of Human Rights, has denounced the closure of the NGO, issuing the following statement:  

“CEJUDHCAN has been instrumental in drawing attention to the looting of lands that Miskitu and Mayangnna Indigenous peoples on the Caribbean coast have suffered; it has also shed light on the way the Nicaraguan authorities have done nothing to stop looting from happening. CEJUDHCAN has documented how this has a specific impact on these communities, including forced displacements, generalised hunger, and the loss of ancestral practices. By taking away CEJUDHCAN’s right to exist as a legal entity, the Nicaraguan state seriously undermines the rights of Indigenous peoples, who have been historically marginalised. It denies them the protection and backing that the authorities themselves have failed to provide”. 

Indigenous peoples have historically been more vulnerable to attacks perpetrated by governments and other stakeholders. According to CEJUDHCAN, the attacks have escalated since the political and human rights crisis erupted in 2018.  

In the particular case of Miskitu and Mayagna Indigenous peoples, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights stated in a resolution to grant precautionary measures on February 15th, 2022 that, between April 2018 and January 2021, 17 individuals have been killed, 31 have been injured (including beating and sexual violence) and 10 have been disappeared.  In addition, 53 families have been forcefully displaced and 37 properties have been burnt or destroyed.  

Furthermore, between 2018 and October 2019, CEJUDHCAN has documented 41 direct attacks against members of the organisation whilst doing their work standing up for the Indigenous communities. 

In this context, forests in Nicaragua are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Centro Humboldt, an environmental NGO, found that 1.4 million hectares of forest were lost between 2011 and 2018. The organisation has now also seen its legal status and right to exist revoked.  

This dire situation makes accessing and publishing information even more important, particularly in the face of the aggressive expansion of extractive industries. The lack of urgent action could result in irreversible damage.  

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