Panama City (16 October 2020) – The UN Human Rights Regional Office for Central America, Panama and Dominican Republic expresses its concern about the Foreign Agents Law passed yesterday, 15 October, by the National Assembly of the State of Nicaragua.
«I regret that the State of Nicaragua has not taken into account our remarks or accepted our offer to provide technical assistance to the National Assembly for the purpose of bringing the law proposal into line with the international human rights standards,» said Alberto Brunori, UN Human Rights Regional Representative, in reference to the communication he sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 25 September.
The law will impose undue restrictions on individuals and entities that receive funds from abroad. Although some exceptions have been incorporated into the law, its provisions may jeopardize, among others, freedom of association, the right to privacy and freedom of expression by contravening a number of international obligations in the field of human rights accepted by the State of Nicaragua. Likewise, political rights could be undermined in view of the 2021 electoral process.
On several occasions, different United Nations human rights mechanisms have expressed their rejection to this type of norms, arguing that they could, inter alia, promote stigmatization and harassment against beneficiaries of foreign funding. «Grounding this law on the protection of national sovereignty is not acceptable as a legitimate motive to limit freedom of association», said Brunori.
Furthermore, taking into account the events registered in the last two years, the amplitude of its provisions and the ambiguous wording of part of its content, the law could be used to persecute civil society organizations, including those engaged in defending human rights, some media outlets and other dissident voices.
The Regional Office calls on the State of Nicaragua to modify this law, as well as to refrain from adopting other norms that are incompatible with international human rights standards. In particular, the Office reiterates to the State its disposition to assist it in redrafting the Special Cybercrime bill, whose adoption would lead to greater restrictions on the democratic space.