Nicaragua

Last updated: 27 September 2022

Introduction

Nicaraguan civil society organizations (CSOs) have formed in waves since the late 1960s in response to a socio-political context that has evolved from a waning dictatorship to revolutionary and post-revolutionary governments and, most recently, to a populist government headed by the former revolutionary leader. Due to these politicized origins, the sector has traditionally been highly polarized. Despite weak collaboration among CSOs, the sector is still highly visible. Through a number of CSO networks and inter-sectoral alliances, Nicaraguan CSOs have led massive protest marches as well as international advocacy campaigns.

CSOs have contributed to Nicaraguan development and have carried out activities when the state has been unable to attend to economic, social and environmental problems. They have also contributed to processes of behavioral change, citizen empowerment, and the promotion and defense of human rights. CSOs have relied heavily on international financial assistance to fund these activities that run the gamut from charity to self-help to advocacy.

Working relationships between CSOs and state entities have increasingly been disappearing or are being prevented from functioning by the state’s political decisions. CSOs’ activities require good relations with the state, particularly at the local level, although they are being hindered. Thus, while Nicaraguan law recognizes the freedoms of assembly and association, in practice respect for these rights has been limited.

Since April 2018, authorities have increasingly restricted the exercise of civil and human rights. The authorities are cracking down on civil society and dismantling civic spaces that are not under government control by using money laundering legislation, the Foreign Agents Law, and the General Law on the Regulation and Control of Non-profit Organizations, which was enacted in May 2022.

The legal framework that regulates CSOs in Nicaragua is rooted in Article 49 of the Constitution, which establishes the right to organize based on the free and participatory will of those who organize “…in order to ensure the realization of their aspirations, pursuant to their own interests, and to participate in the construction of a new society.”

Several laws govern the right of association. The main one is Law 1115, General Law of Regulation and Control of Non-Profit Organizations, whose purpose is to“…establish the legal framework applicable to national Non-Profit Organizations (OSFL, by its acronym in Spanish) and those of other nationalities that carry out their activities in the national territory.”

Some key restrictions and aspects of Law 1115 include:

  • Broad discretion for officials to deny legal recognition to not-for-profit organizations (NPOs).
  • Broad oversight powers and ambiguous grounds to investigate NPOs and intervene in their internal governance.
  • Restricted access to resources for NPOs’ legitimate activities and required prior notification before receiving donations and authorization of projects.
  • The incompatibility of sanctions with the principles of proportionality and necessity by allowing the government to intervene in NPOs’ activities, seize their assets, suspend them, and forcibly dissolve them for minor or ambiguous infractions.
  • Non-conformity with FATF standards because of restrictions that are not targeted or proportionate, limit legitimate charitable activities, and are inconsistent with Nicaragua’s human rights obligations.

The government has also systematically attacked CSOs and enacted legal and quasi-legal strategies to hinder the work of independent civil society. Moreover, on April 18, 2018, the state and its parastatal forces violently repressed a peaceful protest, and in the months and years that followed, the socio-political crisis in the country led to an unprecedented human rights crisis. As evidence of this, between December 2018 and September 15, 2022, the government canceled the legal personality of more than 1,800 NPOs through the National Assembly and the Ministry of the Interior, which is the authority that regulates NPOs.

Organizational Forms Non-profit organizations are classified into:

  1. Religious and/or charitable
  2. Social, cultural and educational
  3. Sports, physical education and physical recreation
  4. Business associations
Registration Body General Directorate of Registration and Control of NPOs, under the Ministry of Governance
Approximate Number Data not available.
Barriers to Entry Excessive government discretion in enforcement of constitutional and legal protections.
Barriers to Activities Excessive government discretion in enforcement of constitutional and legal protections.
Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy Excessive government discretion in enforcement of constitutional and legal protections.
Barriers to International Contact Excessive government discretion in enforcement of constitutional and legal protections.
Barriers to Resources Excessive government discretion in enforcement of constitutional and legal protections.
Barriers to Assembly No spontaneous gathering is allowed without prior police authorization.
Population 6,301,880 (2022 est.)
Capital Managua
Type of Government Republic
Life Expectancy at Birth Total population: 74.78 years
Male: 72.56 years
Female: 77.11 years (2022 est.)
Literacy Rate Total: 82.6%
Male: 82.4%
Female: 82.5% (2015 est.)
Religious Groups Roman Catholic 50%, Evangelical 33.2%, other 2.9%, none 0.7%, unspecified 13.2% (2017 est.)
Ethnic Groups Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 50%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5% (2017 census)
GDP Per Capita $5,300 (2020 est.)

Source:  The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency.

Ranking Body Rank Ranking Scale
(best – worst possible)
UN Human Development Index 128 (2020) 1 – 186
World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 131 (2021) 1 – 138
Foreign Policy: Failed States Index 63 (2022) 179 – 1
Transparency International 164 (2021) 1 180
Freedom House: Freedom in the World Status: Not Free
Political Rights: 5
Civil Liberties: 18 (2022)
Free/Partly Free/Not Free
1 – 40
1 – 60

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International and Regional Human Rights Agreements

Key International Agreements Ratification* Year
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Yes 1980
Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1) Yes 1980
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Yes 2007
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) Yes 1980
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Yes 1990
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Yes 1981
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women No
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) Yes 1978
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW) Yes 2005
Key Regional Agreements Ratification* Year
Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights “Protocol of San Salvador Yes 2010
American Convention on Human Rights Yes 1979

* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty

Constitutional Framework

On February 18, 2014, the text of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua (the “Constitution”) with Incorporated Reforms was published in La Gaceta (official journal). This text included amendments to the Constitution, which were promulgated in 1987 by the Sandinista regime. Among other issues, some amendments affected the freedoms of association, expression, and peaceful assembly. New constitutional reforms entered into force in 2020 and 2021.

Below are the Constitutional provisions related to freedom of association, expression, and peaceful assembly:

Article 2 defines the mechanisms of direct democracy, including participatory budgeting, popular initiatives, regional councils, sectoral Councils, and other procedures established by law.
Article 7 defines Nicaragua as a republic of direct, participatory, and representative democracy.
Article 50 enshrines the right to full and active participation of the individual, family, and community in the formulation, implementation, evaluation, control, and monitoring of public and social policies and services.
Freedom of Expression. Art. 30.- Nicaraguans have the right to express their thoughts freely in public or private, individually or collectively, in oral, written or any other form.
Effective Participation. Art. 48.- Paragraph 2: The State must eliminate any obstacles that impede in effect the equality among Nicaraguans and their effective participation in the political, economic and social life of the country.
Freedom of Association. Art. 49.- In Nicaragua, urban and rural workers, women, youth, agricultural producers, artisans, professionals, technicians, intellectuals, artists, members of religious orders, communities of the Atlantic coast and citizens in general, with no discrimination whatsoever, have the right to constitute organizations in order to ensure the realization of their aspirations, pursuant to their own interests, and to participate in the construction of a new society.  These organizations shall be formed according to the participatory and elective will of the citizens; they shall have a social function; and they may or may not have a partisan character, according to their nature and purposes.
Participation in Public Affairs and State Management. Art. 50.- Citizens have the right to participate, under equal conditions, in public affairs and in state management. By law, the people’s effective participation, nationally and locally, shall be guaranteed.
Demands, Complaints and Criticisms. Art. 52.- Citizens have the right to make demands, denounce anomalies and make constructive criticisms, individually or collectively, before the powers of the state or any authority; to receive timely resolutions or responses; and to be informed of that result within the terms established by law.
Meeting (Assembly). Art. 53.- The right to meet peacefully is recognized.  The exercise of this right does not require prior permission.
Concentration (Assembly). Art. 54.- The right of public concentration, demonstration and mobilization is recognized, pursuant to the law.
Rights and Guarantees Not Susceptible to Suspension. Art. 150.- The following are powers of the President of the Republic:
9) Enact and enforce the suspension of rights and guarantees as provided by this Constitution, and send the corresponding decree to the National Assembly within no later than seventy-two hours for approval, modification or rejection.

In addition, Article 186 provides, among other things, that the President of the Republic cannot suspend the legal status of individuals or associations, or their participation in public affairs and state management.

National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector

A number of national-level laws and regulations affect civil society:

  • General Law on Regulation and Control of Non-profit Organizations (Law No. 1115, La Gaceta #66, April 6, 2022) and its reform (Law No. 1127, La Gaceta # 152, August 6, 2022). whose purpose is to “… establish the applicable legal framework for the constitution, authorization, regulation, operation, dissolution, liquidation and cancellation of national Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) and of other nationalities that carry out their activity in the national territory”. Law No. 1127, among other reforms, transferred from the National Assembly to the Ministry of the Interior, the power to approve and cancel the legal personality of NPOs.
  • Foreign Agents Regulation Law (Law No. 1040, La Gaceta #192, October 19, 2020) and its normative (Ministerial Agreement No. 03-2021, La Gaceta #20, January 29, 2021). It is applicable to national NPOs and those of other nationalities that operate in the national territory, obliging them to register in the Registry of Foreign Agents and provide the information that is required of them, in accordance with the requirements and procedures established in the Law and its regulations.
  • General Law of Sports, Physical Education and Physical Recreation consolidated text (Law No. 522, La Gaceta #05, January 11, 2019), its reform (see reforming laws at the end of this web page) and its Regulations consolidated text (Decree No. 39-2005, La Gaceta #05, January 11, 2019). Sports, Physical Education and Physical Recreation NPOs must register and/or validate their registration before the General Directorate of Registration and Control of NPOs, in charge of the Ministry of the Interior.
  • Special Law on Potable Water and Sanitation Committees (Law No. 722, La Gaceta #111, June 14, 2010) and its Regulations (Decree No. 50-2010, La Gaceta #172, September 8, 2010). Establishes the provisions for the organization, constitution, legalization and operation of the CAPS (for its acronym in Spanish) in the country, as non-profit community organizations and made up of natural persons democratically elected by the community.
  • General Cooperative Law (Law No. 499, La Gaceta #17, January 25, 2005), its reforms (see reforming laws at the end of this web page) and its Regulations (Decree 91-2007, La Gaceta #174, September 11, 2007). Establishes the set of legal norms that regulate the promotion, constitution, authorization, operation, integration, dissolution and liquidation of cooperatives as persons of cooperative law and of common interest and their interrelationships within that sector of the national economy.
  • Law against Money Laundering, the Financing of Terrorism and the Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (Law No. 977, La Gaceta #138, July 20, 2018), its reforms (see reforming laws at the end of this web page) and its Regulations (Executive Decree No. 15-2018, La Gaceta # 190, October 2, 2018), which aims to protect the national economy and the integrity of the financial system from the risks associated with Money Laundering, the Financing of Terrorism and the Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
  • Law of the Financial Analysis Unit (Law No. 976, La Gaceta #138, July 28, 2018, its reform (Law No. 1002, La Gaceta #176, September 13, 2019) and its Regulations (Decree No. 14-2018, La Gaceta #190, October 3, 2018). The UAF has the power to request directly from Reporting Entities and any public or private entity, including Non-Profit Organizations, financial or legal information that is related to operations allegedly related to ML/TF/PF and predicate offenses associated with ML.
  • Civil Code of the Republic of Nicaragua (Fourth official edition 2019, La Gaceta #236, December 11, 2019).
  • Law of Citizen Participation consolidated text (Law No. 475, La Gaceta #105, June 9, 2021); and its Regulations consolidated text (Decreto No. 8-2004, La Gaceta #105, June 9, 2021).
  • Labor Code (Law No. 185, La Gaceta #205, October 30, 1996) and its reforms (see reforming laws at the end of this web page).
  • Labor and Social Security Procedural Code of Nicaragua (Law No. 815, La Gaceta #229, November 29, 2012).
  • Tax Concentration Law (Law No. 822, La Gaceta #241, December 17, 2012), its reforms (see reforming laws at the end of this web page) and its Regulations (Decree No. 01-2013, La Gaceta #12, January 22, 2013) and reforms (see reforming decrees at the end of this web page).
  • Tax Code of the Republic of Nicaragua (Law No. 562, La Gaceta #227, November 23, 2005) and its reforms (see reforming laws at the end of this web page).
  • Social Security Law (Decree No. 974, La Gaceta #49, March 1, 1982), its reforms (see reforming laws at the end of this web page) and its Regulations (Decree No. 975, La Gaceta #49, March 1, 1982) and its reforms (see reforming decrees at the end of this web page).
  • Tax Plan of the Municipality of Managua (Decree No. 10-91, La Gaceta #30, February 12, 1991).
  • Municipal Tax Plan (Decree No. 455, La Gaceta #144, July 31, 1989).
  • Real Estate Tax (Decree No. 3-95, La Gaceta #21, January 31, 1995).

Pending NGO Legislative / Regulatory Initiatives

We are unaware of any pending NGO legislative / regulatory initiatives at this time. If you are aware of pending initiatives, write to ICNL at ngomonitor@icnl.org.

Organizational Forms

Civil society can be formally organized, as described below, or it can be more informal, such as through social movements.

According to the provisions of Law No. 1115 and its reform, NPOs regulated by the Ministry of the Interior are classified as:

  1. Religious and/or charitable;
  2. Social, cultural and educational;
  3. Sports, physical education and physical recreation; and
  4. Business associations.

By public deed before a notary, associations, foundations, federations and confederations can be constituted, while associations and foundations require the appearance and agreement of at least five and three people, respectively. Articles 16 and 18 of Law 1115 establish the contents of the public deed of incorporation and the statutes of the NPO.

In addition, several other Nicaraguan laws provide for additional organizational forms. For example, there are Potable Water and Sanitation Committees (CAPS) under Law No. 722 on Potable Water and Sanitation Committees, which was approved in June 2010. It is regulated by Decree No. 50-2010, which aims to “establish the provisions for the organization, constitution, legalization and operation of the Potable Water and Sanitation Committees” (CAPS). This law defines the legal framework of the CAPS and their operation, attributing to them the characteristics of not-for-profit legal entities.

There are also Cooperatives, which are governed by Law No. 499 on Cooperatives, which was approved in September 2004. It “establishes the set of legal norms that regulate the promotion, constitution, authorization, operation, integration, dissolution and liquidation of cooperatives as persons of cooperative law and common interest and their interrelations within that sector of the national economy.”

Lastly, there are Trade Union Associations, which are regulated by the legal framework of Title IX of Law No. 185, the Labor Code. Article 203 states, “The establishment of unions does not need prior authorization. For the purposes of obtaining their legal status, unions must register in the Registry Book of Trade Union Associations of the Ministry of Labor.” Trade Union Associations are also regulated by Decree No. 55-97 on Regulations of Trade Union Associations, which was approved in September 1997.

Pursuant to the Civil Code, there may also be organizations that lack legal status but are considered simple civil or commercial associations depending on their aims or purposes. Governed by the provisions of the Civil Code, these civil organizations must be legally constituted, establish bylaws, and be registered in the Commercial Registry. Such organizations may be for-profit.

Public Benefit Status

At the national level, article 32 of the Law on Tax Coalition provides income tax exemptions for three categories of institutions:

  1. Churches, denominations, confessions and religious foundations that have legal personality, in terms of their income from activities and assets exclusively for religious purposes;
  2. Non-profit institutions of a nature: sports, artistic, scientific, educational, cultural, business associations, labor unions, political parties, Nicaraguan Red Cross, Fire Departments, charities and social assistance institutions, indigenous communities; organized as: civil associations, union organizations, foundations, federations, confederations and business chambers; that they have legal personality;
  3. Legally constituted cooperatives up to a certain annual amount of gross income.All three categories are exempt from payment of income tax.

However, Article 33 of the Law on Tax Coalition states: “When the exempt subjects habitually carry out remunerated economic activities that imply competition in the market of goods and services, the income from such activities will not be exempt from the payment of this tax.”

According to Article 111 of the Law on Tax Coalition, churches, denominations, and religious faiths with legal standing are also exempt from the Value Added Tax (Impuesto al Valor Agregado IVA) for goods intended exclusively for religious purposes.

In terms of municipal taxes, exemptions from payment of the income tax and property tax (Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles IBI) are given to:

  • churches and religious faiths, with respect to temples and offices used for religious purposes;
  • non-profit charity and social assistance institutions;
  • cultural, scientific, sports and artistic institutions;
  • unions and associations of workers and professionals;
  • professional associations, as long as they are not for profit; and
  • non-profit civil associations, foundations, federations and confederations with recognized legal standing, with respect only to their assets and incomes related exclusively to the fulfillment of their own aims and purposes.

Public Participation

The legal framework for citizen participation in Nicaragua consists of a range of Constitutional provisions, laws and regulations that guarantee citizen participation in public affairs at the local and national levels, including for indigenous communities, disabled persons, and the LGBTI community. Several such laws and regulations include:

  • Law of Citizen Participation consolidated text, Law No. 475, La Gaceta No. 105, June 9, 2021
  • Regulation (consolidated text) of Law No. 475, Law of Citizen Participation, Decree No. 8-2004, La Gaceta No. 105, June 9, 2021.
  • Law of Municipalities with Incorporated Reforms, Law No. 40, La Gaceta No. 6, January 14, 2013 (Articles 1, 16, 28, 34, 35, 36 and 37).
  • Regulation to the Law of Municipalities and its reforms, Decree No. 52-97, La Gaceta No. 171, September 8, 1997.
  • Statute of Autonomy of the Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua consolidated text, LAW No. 28, La Gaceta No. 180, October 1, 2020.
  • Regulation to Law No. 28, Statute of Autonomy of the Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, Decree A.N. No. 3584, La Gaceta No. 186, October 2, 2003.
  • Family Code, Law No. 870, La Gaceta No. 190, October 8, 2014 (Articles 32 to 36).
  • Text of Law No. 606, Organic Law of the Legislative Power of the Republic of Nicaragua with its Incorporated Reforms, La Gaceta No. 58, March 25, 2022 (Articles 5.3, 33.26, 54.5, 102, 109, 174 to 177, 185 to 189).

Relevant Constitutional provisions include the following:

  • Article 2: Sovereign power is exercised by the people through their representatives and other direct mechanisms, such as participatory budgets, citizen initiatives, territorial councils, territorial and communal assemblies of indigenous and Afro-descended peoples, sector councils, and other procedures established in this Constitution and the laws.
  • Article 50: Citizens have the right to participate on equal terms in public affairs and in state management. In the formulation, execution, evaluation, control and monitoring of public and social policies, as well as public services, the Law will guarantee their effective participation, nationally and locally.
  • Article 101: Workers and other productive sectors, both public and private, have the right to participate in the preparation, execution and control of economic plans.
  • Article 111: Peasants and other productive sectors have the right to participate in the definition of agrarian transformation policies, through their own organizations.
  • Articles 118 and 126: It is the duty of the State to promote the participation of the people in education and culture.
  • Article 160: The administration of justice recognizes citizen participation through the traditional leaders of the original peoples of the Caribbean Coast and Judicial Facilitators throughout the country, as alternative methods of access to justice and alternative conflict resolution, all in accordance with the law.

Unfortunately, however, Nicaragua lacks the political will, suitable institutions, and committed officials to protect these rights in practice. While government officials may be aware of the laws, the implementation of the laws is excessively discretionary in favor of those whom the State supports.

The key national law concerning public participation used to be the Law of Citizen Participation (Law No. 475, La Gaceta No. 241, December 19, 2003). Technically, the Law of Citizen Participation and its regulations have been in force since 2003 and have never been modified or repealed. However, the law is no longer implemented because the Ortega government has ignored it and promulgated other laws, such as the Family Code of 2014, which conforms to the modalities of citizen participation that the Ortega government envisions, tied to the interests of party entities that are portrayed as “state entities.”

Barriers to Entry

No limits are established in terms of the constitutional right to organize. Those who desire to associate may do so for any reason, except to commit a crime or act against the constitutional order.

Law 1115 and its reform transferred the power from the national assembly to the Ministry of the Interior to grant legal status to NPOs. Establishing an NPO requires a three-step process:

  1. The legal representative of the NPO must submit to the General Directorate of Registration and Control of Non-Profit Organizations, the request to obtain legal personality addressed to the Minister of the Interior accompanied by the documents required by Law No. 1115 (article 20).
  2. If the request is approved, the Minister issues a ministerial agreement that must be published in La Gaceta.
  3. To start their functioning and operation, NPO must be registered in the General Directorate of Registration and Control of NPOs; and once registered, their Statutes must be published in La Gaceta, too.

Article 25 provides for the refusal of registration when:

  • The requesting NPO is not included in the scope of application of Law 1115.
  • Formal defects are identified in the application or in the accompanying documentation.
  • Document is contrary to what is established in the NPO Constitution Act or Statutes.
  • There is a presumption of illegality of the act or document that is intended to be registered.
  • The requirements established in Law 1115 are not met.

If registration is denied by the General Directorate of Registration and Control of Non-Profit Organizations, an appeal for review (Recurso de Revisión) may be filed before the Directorate. A subsequent appeal (Recurso de Apelación) may be filed with a higher authority, in this case the Minister of Governance. This would exhaust the administrative alternatives for appeal, leaving open the alternative of filing for judicial protection (Recurso de Amparo).

Barriers to Operational Activity

Supervision and control
Law No. 1115 provides that:

  1. The Ministry of the Interior, through the General Directorate of Registration and Control of NPOs, has the power to carry out supervision and control visits to NPOs, with the aim of verifying compliance with the provisions of Law 1115, its Regulations, the Act of Constitution and Statutes.
  2. Government entities and financial institutions must request from NPOs the proof of registration and fulfillment of their obligations issued by the Ministry of the Interior, before processing documents requested by them.
  3. NPOs must request authorization to establish headquarters, subsidiaries, branches and offices.
  4. NPOs are required to provide the information required by the competent authorities on their objectives and purposes, statutes, activities, beneficiaries, national or foreign funding sources, donors, donations, assets, administrative and financial operations, and use of public funds. that they receive, among others.
  5. The General Directorate of Registration and Control of NPOs can apply administrative sanctions (fine, intervention and suspension), without prejudice to the corresponding civil and criminal responsibilities. Its application is at the discretion of the competent authority, for breaching obligations (article 34), incurring in prohibitions (article 35) or infractions (article 37).

Cancellation
The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for canceling the legal status of national NPOs, upon request from the same NPO, or from the General Directorate of Registration and Control of NPOs, by means of a Ministerial Agreement, which must be published in La Gaceta, Official Gazette. The following are grounds for cancellation:

  1. Dissolution and liquidation;
  2. When it was used to commit illicit acts;
  3. When it was used to violate public order;
  4. For hindering the control and surveillance of the General Directorate of Registration and Control of the NPO;
  5. When they distort the objectives and purposes for which it was created, according to the Constitutive Act and its Statutes;
  6. When they have at least 1 (one) year of noncompliance before the enforcement authority, by not reporting financial statements and changes in the Board of Directors;
  7. When their activities are contrary to the nature of the legal personality, including the profit motive;
  8. For using the organizational scheme to promote destabilization campaigns in the country, supporting, facilitating and inciting the affectation of citizen security and the legitimate exercise of human rights of Nicaraguan families;
  9. Due to administrative sanction derived from non-compliance with obligations or carrying out prohibited actions in accordance with the provisions of this Law, its Regulations and Regulations.

Regarding their assets, the law states that: “In case the destination of the assets is not specifically established in the Constitutive Act or Statutes, they will pass to the name of the State of Nicaragua.” Further, when the legal status of an NPO is canceled by the Ministry of the Interior, its assets will become the property of the State (article 47).

Excessive Discretion
As enforcement authority, the Ministry of the Interior continues to exercise great discretion in its in its capacity as super administrative power in charge of the constitution, authorization, regulation, operation, dissolution, liquidation and cancellation of NPOs. Examples of abuses of discretion by the Ministry of the Interior include:

  • insistence on changes to NGO by-laws that are not required by law
  • demands to include information in an NGO’s assembly minutes that is not required by law
  • not receiving annual financial reports to NPOs, repeatedly alleging defects
  • not responding to or delaying the response to requests from NPOs, under the pretext of not having updated their obligations
  • withholding official recognition of an NGO’s compliance with the law for reasons not established by law

ML/TF/PF prevention
On July 20, 2018, two laws entered into force: Law No. 976, Law of the Financial Analysis Unit, and Law No. 977, Law against Money Laundering (LA), Financing of Terrorism (FT) and Financing the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (FP). The inclusion of a special chapter on non-profit legal persons suggests a legislative intention to impose excessive regulations, which is likely based on a misinterpretation of Financial Action Task Force Recommendation 8.

Law 1115 has endorsed provisions already contained in Law 977 and its Regulations, including that:

  1. The term Non-Profit Legal Entities (PJSFL), used since 1992, is replaced by Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs).
  2. NPOs are obliged to include:
    • Apply the following measures to know one’s donors, grantees and partner organizations;
  • Verify the identity and good reputation of your donors and their organizations;
  • Verify the identity of your beneficiaries and/or final destination of your donations;
  • Document the identity of your funders.
    • Keep for a period of 10 (ten) years:
  • Annual financial statements with detailed breakdowns of income and expenses;
  • Records of local and international transactions;
  • Information about the identity of your funders, your beneficiaries and your associated organizations.

Barriers to Speech / Advocacy

There are no legal provisions that restrict the rights to free speech or to the free exercise of political rights, including the defense of such issues as democracy and human rights. On the contrary, the legal framework guards and protects such rights. However, with the implementation of the Model of the Citizen Power, 2007, the State has hindered the free exercise of these rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution. Furthermore, the last Constitutional reform in 2014 established a limited model of citizenship, stating that “the Nicaraguan State recognizes the person, the family and the community as the origin and end of their activity.” This neglects that citizen activities transcend the national, regional and international domains and extends to universal human rights.

Barriers to International Contact

Although there are no legal barriers to establishing international contacts, government actions that have restricted the legal environment for not-for-profit organizations reflect the will of the authorities to dismantle the Nicaraguan civil sector. Democratic institutions have been weakened, such as the judicial power that denies justice to organizations, or the legislative power that has approved laws that criminalize freedom of association and put development cooperation at risk.

Barriers to Resources

The Nicaraguan government has been interested in controlling the financing from international organizations. One of its first manifestations became in September 2015 when the government informed the foreign diplomatic corps and representatives of international organizations that they would no longer be able to directly receive resources from abroad. Resources instead would have to be channeled through government institutions. The first result of these changes was the removal of a representative of the United Nations Development Programme and the closure of at least five projects.

Additional restrictions on non-profit legal persons can be found in Law No. 976 (Law of the UAF and Law against Money Laundering, Financing of Terrorism) and Law No. 977 (Law on the Financing the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction).

Law No. 1040, Foreign Agents Regulation Law,,and its normative:

  • Requires NPOs to register as foreign agents
  • Grants broad powers to the Ministry of the Interior to require any information that verifies the use of the funds received.
  • Establishes, among others:
    • A system of sanctions that allows requesting the cancellation of the legal personality of an NPO based on terms not defined as “violating public order”
    • Strict controls to receive and make use of the donations received
    • Onerous reporting requirements on receipt and execution of resources from abroad
    • Unlimited information requirements
    • Undefined information requirements to identify certain donors, which could result in the competent authority exercising great discretion

Along the same lines as Law 1040, Law 1115 and its reform establishes the obligation of NPOs to “inform at least 15 (fifteen) days in advance to the General Directorate of Registration and Control of NPOs of the Ministry of the Interior of the steps prior to receiving donations from abroad, as well as the final destination.”

Barriers to Assembly

The Constitution of Nicaragua protects the freedom of assembly. Article 53 states that, “The right to meet peacefully is recognized. The exercise of this right does not require prior permission.” Article 54 declares, “The right of public concentration, demonstration and mobilization is recognized, pursuant to the law.” Nevertheless, since September 2018 has continued to ban public demonstrations organized by any group critical of the Government. Through several press releases starting in September 2018, the National Police limits the constitutional rights of peaceful assembly and demonstration. Releases contain statements like:

The National Police blames the organizations and persons who have summoned these illegal activities that are not at all peaceful for any threat, damage, or risk to life to the dignity of the person or damage to private or state property. The conveners are responsible and will answer before the justice for the threats, criminal actions and aggressions that appear in the conduct of these activities.” (No. 115-2018 on September 28, 2018)

“The National Police ratifies that no activity can be carried out without the corresponding authorization and police coverage, in order not to affect the social, economic, commercial, financial, religious and recreational life of the Nicaraguan people.” (No. 116-2018, October 13, 2018).

“The national police does not authorize and will not authorize public mobilization for people, associations or movements that participated and are being investigated for their actions in the failed coup attempt.” (Resolution 029-2018). Resolution 30-2018 of December 9, 2018 reiterated this stipulation.

Enforcement
The Truth Report, published in November 2021 by the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH, for its acronym in Spanish), covers the stages of state action, from generalized repression to citizen demonstrations, the imposition of a State of Terror and “Operation Cleanup”, the criminalization of protest, arbitrary arrests and political prisoners, the prohibition of social protest, the road to a State of Exception, express kidnappings, torture and evidence of clandestine prisons, even the imprisonment and criminalization of electoral opponents. As a result, the report indicates, among others, the death of 55 people, including 27 children and/or adolescents, nearly 2,000 people injured, more than 1,614 people deprived of liberty, more than 100,000 people forced into exile, including more than 90 journalists and media workers.

The report concludes: “An Exceptional Police State has been consolidated where a practice of State terrorism persists and crimes against humanity continue to occur with total impunity”. (See the full report in Spanish here)

Criminal Penalties
Since 2008, Title II of the Penal Code, which covers misdemeanors against public order and peace includes six criminal misdemeanors (Articles 528 through 533): disobedience of authority; refusal to assist an authority, public official or public employee; hindrance of authority, public official, or public employee; and refusal to self-identify. These misdemeanors can be applied against organizers or participants in peaceful demonstrations.

According to the GIEI (Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts) Report of December 21, 2018, the “Criminal justice system – comprised of the Office of the Public Prosecutor and the Judiciary – has played an additional role in the scheme of human rights violations observed in Nicaragua, through the criminalization of civilians who participated in the protests. These judicial processes improperly charged students, rural and social leaders with crimes such as terrorism and organized crime, among others, in order to persecute and punish legitimate acts of opposition against the government. The GIEI corroborated the existence of a pattern of judicial criminalization, in which there is no correlation between the facts and the codified criminal conduct.”

As of December 20, 2020, Law No. 1055, Law for the Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-determination for Peace, has been in force and consists of a single article that establishes:

Nicaraguans who lead or finance a coup d’état, who alter the constitutional order, who promote or encourage terrorist acts, who carry out acts that undermine independence, sovereignty, and self-determination, who incite foreign interference in internal affairs , request military interventions, organize themselves with financing from foreign powers to carry out acts of terrorism and destabilization, that propose and manage economic, commercial and financial operations blockades against the country and its institutions, those who demand, praise and applaud the imposition of sanctions against the State of Nicaragua and its citizens, and all those who harm the supreme interests of the nation contemplated in the legal system, will be “Traitors to the Homeland” for which they will not be able to apply for positions of popular election, this without prejudice to the corresponding criminal actions established in the Penal Code of the Republic of Nicaragua for “‘Acts of Treason”, “Crimes that compromise Peace” and “Crimes against the Political Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua”.

Even though it is not a criminal law, Law 1055 mandates the application of the criminal law established in Title XVIII of the Criminal Code, “Crimes against State security” (articles 409 to 431):

  • Acts of treason
  • Betrayal
  • Undermining national integrity
  • Treason committed by foreigners
  • Provocation, proposition and conspiracy
  • Crimes that compromise the peace
  • Hostile acts
  • Violation of immunity
  • Violation of state secrets
  • Reckless disclosure of state secrets
  • Intrusion
  • Diplomatic infidelity
  • Violation of contracts of military interest
  • Crimes against the Political Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua
  • Rebellion
  • Mutiny
  • Provocation, Proposal and Conspiracy
  • Seduction, usurpation and illegal retention of control
  • Violation of the duty of resistance
  • Discrimination
  • Promotion of discrimination
  • Crimes against freedom of expression and information
  • Obstacle to the assistance of the lawyer or the rights of the accused, accused or sentenced
  • Suspension of Constitutional Guarantees.
UN Universal Periodic Review Reports September 2019 (Third Cycle)
Reports of UN Special Rapporteurs Nicaragua
European Parliament Resolution Situation in Nicaragua (March 14, 2019)
USIG (United States International Grantmaking) Country Notes Not available
US State Department Human Rights Report (2019)
Wilson Center Nicaraguan Tragedy: From Consensus to Coercion (2019)
Amnesty International 2019 Report
IMF Country Reports Staff Concluding Statement of the 2019 Article IV Mission (November 20, 2019)

2019 Article IV Consultation-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for Nicaragua (February 27, 2020)

Social Progress Index
Lower Middle Social Progress

Score 64.02 / Rank 105 (1–163)
Basic human needs 75.09 / Foundations of wellbeing 72.83 / Opportunity 44.13 (1–100)

Wilson Center Nicaraguan Tragedy: From Consensus to Coercion (2019)
Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH) 623 DÍAS DE REPRESIÓN Y RESISTENCIA: LA SITUACIÓN DE LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS EN NICARAGUA (18 DE ABRIL 2018- 31 DE DICIEMBRE 2019) (Spanish)
CIVICUS Civil Society Index Reports Nicaragua (2020)
International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Online Library Nicaragua

While we aim to maintain information that is as current as possible, we realize that situations can rapidly change.  If you are aware of any additional information or inaccuracies on this page, please keep us informed; write to ICNL at ngomonitor@icnl.org.

Key Events

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a preliminary report after its visit to the country on May 17-21, 2018, which included the following recommendations:

  1. Cease immediately the repression of the demonstrators and the arbitrary detention of those who participate in the protests.
  2. Respect and guarantee the full enjoyment of the right to protest, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and political participation of the population.
  3. Create an international investigation mechanism on the acts of violence that occurred, with guarantees of autonomy and independence to ensure the right to the truth and to properly identify those responsible.
  4. Guarantee the life, integrity and security of all the people who are demonstrating and exercising their rights and public liberties and suffering the consequences of the environment of repression, especially students, children and adolescents.
  5. Offer effective guarantees to protect the people who gave testimony to the IACHR or who in some way participated in its activities in the country; and refrain from taking or allowing retaliation against them.

The GIEI (Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts) mission in Nicaragua began on July 2, 2018 and lasted until December 19, 2018, when its members were expelled from the country by the Nicaraguan authorities, one day before the group of experts presented its report. The MESENI (Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua) was also expelled on that occasion.

Among its recommendations, the GIEI report included:

  • That the government guarantee that the right of assembly be fully respected and ensured through due protection of public demonstrations, in conformity with applicable international standards and human rights norms.
  • That the government cease the harassment against human rights defenders, journalists and other social leaders, and ensure the necessary conditions so they can fully exercise their rights and perform their job. In particular, freedom of expression, right of assembly and freedom of association.

That was the beginning of pressure from the international community, which continued to mount during more than four years, including actions taken by UN, OAS, the U.S government and other governments, European Parliament, and European Union, among others.

Chapter IV of the IACHR Annual Reports have included a special section on Nicaragua: 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. In its latest report, the IACHR observes with alarm the amplification of administrative and legislative obstacles and measures to prevent the sustainable functioning and effectiveness of civil society organizations defending human rights and institutions that provide basic humanitarian services in Nicaragua. …contrary to inter-American standards because they seek to curtail democratic debate and undermine the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, participation in public affairs, protest, and the right to defend rights.”

On August 29, 2022, the IACHR presented a report (available in Spanish) with an assessment of the activities held by its Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI)—which has been in place for four years—and the results they have attained.

On March 2019, UN Human Rights Council issued a resolution expressing concern over the increasing restrictions on civic space and expressions of dissent in Nicaragua, including the closure of independent media outlets and the cancellation of legal registration and seizure of assets and goods of a number of CSOs, particularly human rights organizations. However, on March 2022, a new resolution was adopted and the last report on the human rights situation in Nicaragua pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 49/3 was presented on September 13, 2022. This report stated that “attacks on the freedom to associate have increased exponentially. This year, the legal personalities of 1,512 human rights, development and other organizations, professional associations, including medical associations, entities linked to the Catholic Church and others, have been cancelled, totaling at least 1,578 over the past four years.”

The Decision of the Human Rights Council on September 20, 2019 adopted the outcome of the review of Nicaragua, comprising the report thereon of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which contained 259 conclusions and/or recommendations that were submitted by 90 delegations and called on Nicaragua to respect civil society, freedom of association, and peaceful demonstration, among other human rights.

On May 5, 2022, in a letter addressed to the Nicaraguan Government (available in Spanish), UN experts (Special Rapporteurs) stated the cancellation of the legal personality of hundreds of associations “represents a clear pattern of repressing civic space.”

The European Parliament has also adopted resolutions on Nicaragua, with the last one on December 16, 2021, in which it considered that the Nicaraguan regime deprived the people of Nicaragua of their civil and political rights and the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, outlawed scores of civil society organizations and did not respect its commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms under Nicaragua’s Constitution, the Inter-American Democratic Charter and international covenants to which the country is a party.

General News

Nicaragua’s dictatorship is criminalizing democracy (September 2022)
In Nicaragua, businesses are extorted by mafia-like police officers, Catholic leaders are persecuted for supporting democracy, residents (even Americans) are detained and sentenced for decades, and civil society organizations have been shuttered. The family Ortega dynasty has criminalized democracy, ensuring that freedom of expression, political participation, movement and beliefs are legally eliminated.

Ortega Tightening Authoritarian Grip (August 2020)
Member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) should urgently raise concerns about Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s efforts to tighten his government’s grip on independent journalists and human rights groups, Human Rights Watch said today. On September 22, 2020, pro-government lawmakers introduced a “foreign agents” bill that would allow Ortega’s government to exert control over the work of virtually anyone who receives funding or support from abroad, including rights groups and independent media outlets.

Riot control besieged express picket in Managua (August 2019) (Spanish)
A human fence of more than 40 riot agents surrounded the entrance of the premises, preventing protesters from taking to the streets to exercise their right to civic protest. Civic resistance that demands democracy and justice in Nicaragua remains on the streets, but the harassment of the National Police continues towards citizens who decide to raise their voices, as happened at the entrance of the Holiday Inn Hotel in Managua.

Inter-American Court’s President orders Nicaragua to adopt urgent measures to protect the life and integrity of the members of two human right defense organizations (July 2019) (Spanish)
A resolution was concluded between the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) and the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH) regarding Nicaragua. In the resolution, the President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights requested the State to immediately adopt the necessary measures to avoid irreparable damage and to effectively protect the life and personal integrity of the members of the organizations working in defense of human rights without being subjected to harassment, threats or aggression.

Letter from Human Rights Watch to the EU on Nicaragua (July 2019)
The purpose of the letter was to “share with you the findings of Human Rights Watch’s recent report on the crackdown by National Police and heavily armed pro-government groups in Nicaragua, and to urge you to take concrete steps to increase pressure on the Nicaraguan government to curb human rights violations…to redouble pressure on the Nicaraguan government, we urge the EU and its member states to impose targeted sanctions, such as travel bans and asset freezes, against senior government officials who bear responsibility for gross human rights violations.”

Treasury Sanctions Members of Nicaraguan President Ortega’s Inner Circle (June 2019)
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated four Nicaraguan government officials, Gustavo Eduardo Porras Cortes, Orlando Jose Castillo Castillo, Sonia Castro Gonzalez, and Oscar Salvador Mojica Obregon, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13851. Additionally, Sonia Castro Gonzalez and Gustavo Eduardo Porras Cortes have been designated pursuant to the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018 (NHRAA). Today’s action targets Nicaraguan government officials who persecute Nicaraguan citizens exercising their fundamental freedoms, enact repressive laws, silence news media, and deny medical care to the Nicaraguan people.

MEPs demand sanctions against the Ortega government for democratic deterioration in Nicaragua (April 2019) (Spanish)
The MEP mission that traveled to Nicaragua last January has asked the European Union to take action against the Government of Daniel Ortega for the democratic deterioration in Nicaragua, including sanctions against members of its Executive and the suspension of commercial relations.…Thus they ask that sanctions be imposed on “some of the members of the Government”, for example the freezing of assets and the prohibition of entering the EU, and that the necessary steps be taken to “suspend Nicaragua from the Association Agreement between the EU and Central America for breach of the democratic clause.”

State must put an end to a year of brutal repression (April 2019) (Spanish)
Ahead of the first anniversary of the Nicaraguan government’s violent crackdown on protests over social security reforms on April 18, 2018 – the beginning of a dark chapter of state repression that continues to this day – Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said “The Nicaraguan government must put an immediate end to its strategy of repression and release all the students, activists and journalists detained solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly…”

International organizations set up International Observatory on the situation of Human Rights in Nicaragua (January 2019) (Spanish)
Faced with the blocking of spaces for civil society organizations that track human rights violations, the criminalization of human rights defenders, and the closure of civil society organizations, the need to establish a mechanism for the international observation of the situation in Nicaragua has become urgent.

State of Nicaragua suspends presence of MESENI and GIEI (December 2018)
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported that “the State of Nicaragua communicated today its decision to temporarily suspend the presence of the Special Follow-up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI) in the country and visits by the IACHR to Nicaragua from this date forward. The State also communicated the expiration of the term, mandate and mission of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI)”.

Treasury Sanctions Three Nicaraguan Individuals for Serious Human Rights Abuse and Corrupt Acts (July 2018)
The United States is deeply concerned about the ongoing crisis in Nicaragua. We condemn the violence perpetrated by security forces and others that have resulted in the death of at least 220 demonstrators, and nearly 1,500 injured. Since protests began on April 18, the Nicaraguan government’s violent response has included beatings of journalists, attacks against local TV and radio stations, and assaults on mothers mourning the deaths of their children.

Escalation of violence in Nicaragua (July 2018) (Spanish)
As part of our response to the flagrant human rights abuses committed by the Nicaraguan government, the State Department has imposed additional visa restrictions on the United States to individuals responsible for human rights abuses or the undermining of democracy in Nicaragua, as well as their families.

Carter Center Condemns the Continued Violence in Nicaragua (June 2018)
The Carter Center strongly condemns the violent retaliation and excessive use of force against demonstrators in Nicaragua, and calls on the government to cease all acts of violence and repression and to dismantle para-police groups and riot squads.

Rights commission condemns abuses during Nicaragua protests (May 2018)
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemned Nicaragua’s response to weeks of protests against President Daniel Ortega, criticizing a crackdown that resulted in rights abuses including torture and possibly even murder. In a preliminary report of its findings, the IACHR said that since April 18, it had documented at least 76 people killed, and 868 injured, after protests broke out over discontent with a new law that raised worker and employer social security contributions while cutting benefits. The protests mark the most sustained crisis of Ortega’s 11-years in power.

Report on Nicaragua: the democratic deterioration and the Ortega-Murillo dynasty (March 2018) (Spanish)
The Bertelsmann Foundation of Germany, in the BTI 2018 Transformation Index, points out that “During the period under review, the Ortega government strengthened its control over the political and economic system. (The full report is here).

Nicaragua at the Highest Level of Corruption in Latin America (February 2018) (Spanish)
In 2016, Nicaragua had already worsened its rating on corruption, according to the 2016 report of Transparency International. In 2015, the country ranked 130 out of 167 countries and in 2016 ranked 145 out of a total of 176 countries, evaluated by the agency. In 2016, Nicaragua was then the third most corrupt country in Latin America.

IACHR speaks on denial of entry to Nicaragua of its officials (November 2017) (Spanish)
According to the IACHR, the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS) confers powers for the defense of human rights in the various nations of the world. It regrets that Nicaragua caused Managua’s commitment to human rights to be weakened by preventing entry of the officials of the IACHR.

Government prevents entry of human rights rapporteur of the IACHR (November 2017) (Spanish)
The Government of Nicaragua did not allow the entry into the country of the rapporteur for the rights of children and adolescents of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, who in turn canceled the appointments that she had made with different organizations.

Actions of the Ministry of the Interior affect other 24 local organizations (October 2017) (Spanish)
The Foundation for the Conservation and Development of the Southeast of Nicaragua (Fundación del Río) denounced that the Ministry of the Interior has denied without any explanation documentation that proves its compliance with the requirements of law and that “certifies” the work they carry out in the struggle for the defense of the territory and natural resources.

Nicaragua lives “modern authoritarianism” (June 2017) (Spanish)
Nicaragua is one of the countries that has been defined as “modern authoritarianism” , according to a study by the international human rights organization Freedom House, based in Washington. This definition was raised during the publication of the report on the state of democracy in the world, called Rupture of Democracy: Goals, Strategies and Methods of Modern Authoritarianism, by Arch Puddington, an expert on democracy studies at Freedom House.

Nicaraguans are less free, according to US index (June 2017) (Spanish)
In this year’s global index, Nicaragua ranked 81st out of 128 countries, according to the index published last week by the US Social Progress Imperative. The index, designed by Harvard Business School faculty and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, assesses three areas: basic needs, well-being and opportunities. In this last one the situation of the personal rights and freedom of expression in each country is analyzed.

European Union calls for respect for democracy and human rights in Nicaragua (February 2017) (Spanish)
The European Parliament has issued a resolution condemning the lack of protection of human rights defenders in Nicaragua and calls for the cessation of the harassment of the Government of Nicaragua.

Amnesty International Annual Report 2016/17 (February 2017)
Conflict over land in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region sparked violent attacks against Miskitu Indigenous Peoples. Human rights defenders continued to experience threats and intimidation because of their work. Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities denounced violations of their rights to consultation and free, prior and informed consent in the context of the development of the Grand Interoceanic Canal. Communities and human rights organizations expressed concern at the potential negative impact of the Canal on their lives. A total abortion ban remained in place.

Carlos Fernando Chamorro denounces intimidation and political espionage (October 2016)
The editorial staff of Esta semana and Confidencial have been the victims of an escalation of intimidation “instigated by official policy that seeks to restrict freedom of information and expression in Nicaragua.”

Civil society organizations punished (August 2016)
Civil society organizations carried out a self-assessment of their current situation in the context of the government of president Daniel Ortega’s punishment of CSOs that have a critical position of his administration.

Civil society marchers harassed by government shock forces (August 2016)
A march conducted by civil society organizations to demand the convening of new elections with opposition participation concluded in the city of Masaya but it was sieged by government shock forces.

Deterioration of Human Rights in Nicaragua (August 2016)
According to surveys conducted in the Nicaraguan community, there is unanimous confirmation that there is legal uncertainty and a constant deterioration of human rights in the country, and that citizens are totally defenseless.

Deterioration of human rights in Nicaragua (June 2016) (Spanish)
CENIDH executive director Mauro Ampié considers that the deterioration of the human rights of Nicaraguans somehow reflects “a political design that is oriented to the permanence of an authoritarian government.” The most restricted rights are legal security, physical integrity, access to justice, the guarantees of due process, and individual liberty and property.

AI denounces threats to indigenous human rights defenders in Nicaragua (February 2016) (Spanish)
Amnesty International denounced “threats” and “intimidation” in Nicaragua suffered by the human rights activists, particularly indigenous groups opposed to the Interoceanic Grand Canal. In its 2015 report on the situation of human rights in the world, Amnesty International also criticized the “harassment” suffered “some media and civil society” in Nicaragua.

CENIDH Appeals Unconstitutional Security Act (February 2016) (Spanish)
The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) presented Thursday before the Judiciary an appeal of unconstitutionality against the law of ‘Sovereign Security of the Republic of Nicaragua’, as it believes that it “seeks to silence” critical voices against the government of commander Daniel Ortega. The legislation was approved in December 2015 and establishes a national system of military coordination that integrates all state institutions to “investigate threats and security risk sovereign” country.

Freedom House Latin America Director Denied Entry to Nicaragua (February 2016)
In response to Nicaragua’s expulsion of Latin America Programs Director Carlos Ponce, Freedom House issued the following statement: “We are appalled by the Nicaraguan government’s decision to deny entry to Carlos Ponce, and its broader strategy of persecuting human rights defenders,” said Mark P. Lagon, president. “Barring the representative of a human rights organization signals the deteriorating protections for civil society in Nicaragua.” Ponce traveled to Nicaragua to meet with local civil society organizations, and diplomatic and government officials. He was denied entry to the country February 2, held overnight, and forced to return to Washington. Nicaraguan officials said he was denied entry due to an “administrative decision.”

The government does not like people to organize (January 2016)
Members of the Civil Coordinator made an evaluation of 2015, calling it the year of the social movements, but also confirmed that during the two consecutive periods of government of Daniel Ortega the impact of civil society organizations (NGOs ) critical government was crushed by diverting foreign aid they received.

Human rights situation in Nicaragua is negative at the end of the year (December 2015)
More than 1,500 complaints of civil rights violations records the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, an organization that went onto the streets in the international Human Rights Day to demand respect and for constitutional guarantees of people are met.

La guerra de Ortega contra las ONGs (October 2015) (Spanish)
In an extraordinary meeting held on September 22 at the Chancellery of Nicaragua, the government of President Daniel Ortega informed the diplomatic corps and representatives of international organizations that henceforth NGOs will not be able to directly receive resources from abroad. Resources will instead be channeled through government institutions. The first result of this change was the removal of the Uruguayan representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the closure of at least five projects.

UNDP to close projects (October 2015) (Spanish)
The UNDP will have to close 11 projects after the decision of the government of President Daniel Ortega to control all cooperation funds. 11 more projects are under review, said a source. The government called a meeting at the Foreign Ministry with agencies and bilateral donors to inform them of the decision and to implement a change in the guidelines for cooperation. They noted that they preferred to deal directly with donors. In this move, the biggest loser is UNDP, which has acted as an intermediary.

Circulation of Draft Amendments to the Law of Non-profit Legal Entities (July 2015) (Spanish)
The Ministry of the Interior circulated a draft Amendment to the General Law on Non-profit Legal Entities. According to sources, the new law will double the number of articles of the current legislation. Under the guidance of the Department of Civil Registration and Control of Associations of the Ministry of the Interior, officially, there are currently in operation about 6,150 non-governmental not-for-profit organizations.

Government Deports Lawyers of CEJIL (July 2015) (Spanish)
Immigration agents of Augusto C. Sandino Airport refused entry into the country to lawyers from the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Luis Carlos Buob and Marta González. Buob is one of the lawyers who accompanied the Nicaraguan organizations that reported at the 154th session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) about violations of human rights related to the Interoceanic Canal project in Nicaragua.

Report on Human Rights and Conflicts in Central America: Nicaragua Recedes in Citizen Participation (April 2015) (Spanish)
The Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (CENIDH) presented the ninth “Report on Human Rights and Conflicts in Central America 2013-2014” about the outlook for human rights in the region. Nicaragua “showed some progress in citizen participation it is facing setbacks from constitutional and legal forms.”

Government Creates Law to Control Internet (April 2015) (Spanish)
The Government of Nicaragua has prepared a law to control the Internet through the creation of a state company that will manage broadband services in the Central American country, have the right to decide who will deliver concessions to offer services, and be able to receive information about Nicaraguan Internet users.

Carter Center Blasts Nicaragua’s Electoral System (June 2014)

Regression in human rights in Nicaragua (Spanish) (June 2014)

Delegation from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) visits Nicaragua (August 2013)

Protecting Human Rights through comics (November 2012)

Private sector gives “votes of confidence” for new UAF head, despite concerns about the UAF as a tool for repression (October 2012)

NGOs worried about security in Central America (September 2012)

A more active civil society is necessary (August 2012)

NGOs disagree as to whether to mobilize to get out the vote (August 2012)

Youth protesters attacked while protesting electoral fraud (July 2012)

The current problem in Nicaragua is the Unit of Financial Analysis UAF, says expert (July 2012)

Nicaragua to expel USAID? (July 2012)

Consultation held on Bill to Reform the Law on Municipalities (June 2012)

Civil society groups support political negotiation between Montealegre and Ortega (March 2012)

Civil society calls for protests against electoral fraud (November 2011)

Civil society organizations promote freedom of association (October 2011)

Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council accepted President Daniel Ortega registration to run for re-election (April 2011)

Civil Society Organizations called the attention of the international community (March 2011)

More funding required for rural potable water – NGO (January 2011)

President Ortega received a summons (September 2010)

Report presents serious concern regarding the situation of human rights defenders in the region (September 2010)

The foregoing information was collected by the ICNL Civic Freedom Monitor partner organization in Nicaragua.