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CERLAC Letter regarding CEJUDHCAN

CERLAC Letter regarding CEJUDHCAN

March 29, 2022

On Thursday, March 17 2022, the Nicaraguan National Assembly cancelled the legal status of the Center for Justice and Human Rights of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (CEJUDHCAN), whose director, Lottie Cunningham, was scheduled to participate in an upcoming virtual event organized by the Center for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) at York University. Besides CEJUDHCAN, 25 other non-profit civil organizations that have actively promoted the citizenship and human rights of all Nicaraguans were also closed.

CEJUDHCAN is a not-for-profit NGO that provides educational programs, legal support, and practical assistance to Indigenous Peoples and Afro-descendant communities on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. Since 2015, its director, Lottie Cunningham, has advocated tirelessly on behalf of Indigenous communities at the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), denouncing the abuses committed by settlers against the lives and communal property of the Miskitu peoples of the Northern Caribbean Coast. For her commendable work Ms. Cunningham received the prestigious, international Right Livelihood Award, which recognizes the actions of individuals who work for a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world for all.

CERLAC has had a long relationship with the Caribbean coast and with NGOs and universities in the region. Together we have fostered opportunities for faculty and staff at the University of the Caribbean Coast (URACCAN) which have enabled faculty to complete graduate degrees at York University.   

We deeply value CEJUDHCAN’s work as defenders of Indigenous, Afro-descendant, and all peoples’ human rights in Nicaragua and for promoting educational opportunities and social and economic wellbeing for communities on the Caribbean Coast. We consider the cancellation of  CEJUDHCAN’s legal status to be arbitrary and unjustified.  CERLAC calls on the Nicaraguan authorities to reverse this decision and to end the intimidation of human rights activists and independent civil society organizations in the country. 

This decision by the Nicaraguan government is particularly worrying because when NGOs are stripped of their legal status this leaves their membership vulnerable to other abuses, such as the confiscation of legally owned property and the criminalization of their activist work. We fear what will come next for Lottie, CEJUDHAN, and the 25 other organizations that just lost their legal status, and we fear what will come next for the Indigenous and Afro-descendant  people and communities that are served by them.ères-actualités/nicaragua-government-cancels-permits-of-another-15-ngos-for-holding-activities-outside-the-law-and-acting-expressly-against-the-law/