Nicaragua must protect indigenous peoples and their land, Right Livelihood says in joint statement
Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in Nicaragua are experiencing alarming levels of land-grabs and violent attacks by illegal armed settlers, Right Livelihood warned on Monday, calling on the UN Human Rights Council to ensure their protection.
Right Livelihood delivered the statement jointly with the Center for Justice and Human Rights of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (CEJUDHCAN) during a debate on the situation of human rights in Nicaragua at the 49th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“Entire communities were forcibly displaced due to deliberate attacks on their means of subsistence. Impunity for these crimes is structural,” the statement said.
Since 2015, 62 indigenous people have been killed due to conflicts over land, 56 have been injured, 49 have been kidnapped and four have disappeared.
Despite having granted land rights to indigenous peoples, the Nicaraguan authorities often favour business interests over upholding the law. In many cases, the government event actively promotes illegal land grabs.
“Those daring to defend the rights of indigenous peoples are subject to systematic and widespread violence,” the statement said. “The few organizations left to document abuses in the territories are facing serious threats of being shut down under the Law on Foreign Agents.”
Right Livelihood and CEJUDHCAN called on the Human Rights Council to “respond robustly to this crisis” and ensure that the Nicaraguan government guarantees indigenous peoples’ territorial rights, immediately removes non-indigenous settlers from the demarcated territories, and promptly carries out independent investigations into the violations.