Nicaragua: UN expert urges to improve protection of environmental rights defenders

GENEVA (1 February 2021) – A UN human rights expert has condemned the murder of indigenous environmental defender Nacilio Macario on Nicaragua's northern Caribbean coast, urging the Government to investigate his killing and bring those responsible to justice.

Mr. Macario, an indigenous Mayangna, was originally from the Autonomous Region of the Northern Caribbean Coast and campaigned against illegal gold mining and logging taking place in his community. He was allegedly killed by settlers on 14 November 2020 while taking water and food to members of communities protecting their land.

"The Government has a duty to ensure a safe and supportive environment for those who defend the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples in Nicaragua,” said Lawlor. "This time it was Mr. Macario who stood up for his land against the illegal exploitation of people associated with the extractive industry, but if those responsible are not duly investigated and brought to justice, these murders will continue to be carried out with impunity."

These attacks have occurred in a context of socio-political and human rights crisis, that worsened since 2018. The laws approved recently by the National Assembly further restrict the civic and democratic space.

“Finally, I would like to echo High Commissioner’s recommendation and request the Government of Nicaragua to guarantee the exercise of freedoms of peaceful assembly, expression and association; and publicly condemn and sanction any attack or intimidation against human rights defenders and community leaders, among others,” said Lawlor.

The expert’s call has been endorsed by: Mr. David R. Boyd, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment,Mr. Dante Pesce (Chairperson), Ms. Anita Ramasastry, Mr. Surya Deva, Ms. Elżbieta Karska, and Mr. Githu Muigai, UN Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises

The expert is in contact with the authorities on this matter.


* Ms Mary Lawlor, (Ireland) is the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. She is currently an Adjunct Professor of Business and Human Rights in Trinity College Dublin. She was the founder of Front Line Defenders - the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. As Executive Director from 2001-2016, she represented Front Line Defenders and had a key role in its development. Ms. Lawlor was the Director of the Irish Section of Amnesty International from 1988 to 2000, became a Board member in 1975 and was elected Chair from 1983 to 1987.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, Country Page: Nicaragua