We express grave concern at the continued disregard of Nicaragua for its international human rights obligations, including to respect the right to freedom of religion or belief.
We note and condemn a marked increase in hostility, discrimination and persecution in Nicaragua, in particular the restrictions relating to the Catholic Church. According to NGO reporting, in less than four years the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has been the target of 190 attacks and desecrations, including a fire in Managua Cathedral as well as police harassment and targeting of bishops and priests, and the unwarranted closure of at least eight Catholic radio stations. The Nicaraguan Government has also expelled the Apostolic Nuncio, Bishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, and members of the Sisters of the Cross and Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, some of whom had been working in Nicaragua for over 30 years. We also note the expulsion of religious organisations in Nicaragua who ran schools and medical centres.
We note and condemn the targeting of Catholic leaders and in particular the Catholic bishop of Matagalpa, Bishop Rolando José Álvarez, who has been placed under house arrest and threatened with prison or exile. We also note that a number of Catholic priests are being held unjustly, some without charges, in the El Chipote prison.
We call for the immediate release of Bishop Alvarez and other priests being unjustly detained, and for freedom of religion or belief for all to be restored.
We join with international calls for Nicaragua to respect human rights, following the Resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 31 March 2022. We also call upon Nicaragua to cooperate with international and regional human rights mechanisms, particularly the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, including its regional office in Central America, and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council.
Signatories who associate themselves with this statement: U.S., UK, Croatia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Malta, Georgia, Romania, Taiwan, Sweden, Brazil, Poland, Slovenia, Colombia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Estonia, the Netherlands, Sovereign Order of Malta.