Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination Considers Situation in Nicaragua in Absence of Delegation

OHCHR

Committee Experts Express Concern Regarding Reports of Violence Against Indigenous Peoples and People of African Descent in Nicaragua

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Dissemination today considered the combined 15th to 21st periodic report of Nicaragua in the absence of the delegation, with Committee Experts expressing concern regarding the violence faced by indigenous peoples and people of African descent in the State.

Verene Albertha Shepherd, Committee Chairperson, said the delegation of Nicaragua was absent from the room, which was an unusual circumstance. Ms. Shepherd said that she and the Committee had taken all the necessary steps to cooperate with Nicaragua and assist the State to appear for the dialogue with the Committee, including remotely. A letter had been sent to the Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the United Nations Office, expressing the Committee’s concern about the lack of response from the State party and requesting it to provide a response and indicate the list of the members of the delegation. The Secretariat had not received any response to this letter.

The Committee deeply regretted Nicaragua’s lack of response to all communications sent, which was considered as an evident lack of cooperation, but had nevertheless decided to consider its 15th to 21st periodic reports in absence of a delegation, and a letter had been sent to the State party for information. Ms. Shepherd stated that the ratification of the International Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination entailed several international obligations and engagements with respect to the Committee. The doors for cooperation were open and the Committee looked forward to having Nicaragua present for dialogue in future sessions.

While presenting findings from the report, Eduardo Ernesto Vega Luna, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur, said that the invasion of indigenous territories had generated a situation of violence, with allegations that the State was promoting the internal migration of non-indigenous persons in territories that had traditionally been occupied by indigenous peoples, causing the forced displacement of the affected communities. It was important to have information from the State on these allegations. Mr. Vega Luna also called for information on the measures taken to prevent the invasion of indigenous territories by third parties, and on measures to avoid conflicts concerning the occupation and use of indigenous peoples’ land and territories. In August 2021, the Kiwakumbaih massacre occurred, the fourth attack in 2021 in the Mayangna Sauni As indigenous territory. There were between 13 and 18 indigenous people killed-including a child, a teenager and two indigenous Mískitu women, one of who was mutilated. The wife and daughter of a miner were sexually assaulted by several of the attackers.

A Committee Expert said alarming reports had been received regarding what was happening to African descendant communities and indigenous communities. According to reports, in the areas of the Caribbean coast where there was a past policy of autonomy, people were being victims of kidnapping, sexual assault and arson attacks on their home by local Government authorities. There was cause for great concern for what was happening in those areas, based on all reports received from reliable sources. The Expert called on the Government to cease and desist and respond to these charges, and invited them to appear before the Committee.

In concluding remarks, Mr. Vega Luna thanked the Committee for their questions and comments. When the time came to consider the concluding observations, the Committee would have to develop three very specific plans on what could be done. A more urgent plan would focus on what could be done to protect those currently in danger, as there were people in the country right now whose life was at risk. The second plan related to what the Committee typically did when there was minimal information. The third plan would present some possible outcomes and open doors for the future. The way out would involve the United Nations system and its various bodies.

The Committee will issue its concluding observations on the report of Nicaragua after its one hundred and seventh session, which concludes on 30 August. Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here. The programme of work of the Committee’s one hundred and seventh session and other documents related to the session can be found here.

The Committee will next meet in public on Thursday, 11 August at 3 p.m. to review the combined 10th to 12th report of the United States of America (CERD/C/USA/10-12).

Report

The Committee has before it the combined 15th to 21st report of Nicaragua (CERD/C/NIC/15-21).

Statements by Committee Experts

VERENE ALBERTHA SHEPHERD, Committee Chairperson, said the delegation of Nicaragua was absent from the room, which was an unusual circumstance. Ms. Shepherd said that she and the Committee had taken all the necessary steps to cooperate with Nicaragua and assist the State to appear for the dialogue with the Committee, including remotely. A letter had been sent to the Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the United Nations Office, expressing the Committee’s concern about the lack of response from the State party and requesting it to provide a response and indicate the list of the members of the delegation. The Secretariat had not received any response to this letter. Ms. Shepheard reiterated that a State party was expected to be present at meetings of the Committee when its reports were being examined, in order to participate in the discussions and answer questions concerning the reports. The dialogue was a key component of the consideration of the report and provided a unique opportunity for the Committee and the State party to hold constructive and in-depth discussions. Such discussions allowed the Committee to assess the progress made in the implementation of the Convention and to indicate the areas where further efforts were needed.

The Committee deeply regretted Nicaragua’s lack of response to all communications sent, which was considered as an evident lack of cooperation. The Committee had nevertheless decided to consider its 15th to 21st periodic reports in absence of a delegation, and a letter had been sent to the State party for information. Ms. Shepherd stated that the Committee reminded Nicaragua that the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination entailed several international obligations and engagements with respect to the Committee. The doors for cooperation were open and the Committee looked forward to having Nicaragua present for dialogue in future sessions. Nicaragua was considered a friend and an important State party.

EDUARDO ERNESTO VEGA LUNA, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur, expressed regret at the absence of the State party during the session. The last report was submitted by the State party in 2019, with an eight-year delay. It was important to have the State present to provide up-to-date information on the country’s situation. In 2018, there was a social and political crisis in the country which led to violent repression by the police. The State party had shown a lack of cooperation and commitment to dialogue, both regionally and within the United Nations system. More than 200 organisations had been shut down in Nicaragua, including the largest non-governmental organisations protecting the rights of women. The State had developed a framework to bring greater protection to indigenous people and people of African descent. However, there had been testimonies that the State party had taken measures that ran counter to its own legislation, which would represent a possible regression in the protection of the rights of indigenous and Afro-descendants. This required an explanation from the State.

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