Published Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Expert condemns environmental
defender’s death in Nicaragua
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
An independent United Nations human rights expert, on Monday, condemned the murder of an indigenous environmental defender in Nicaragua, calling for those responsible to be “duly investigated and brought to justice.”
According to Mary Lawlor, a special reporter of the situation of human rights defenders, Nacilio Macario was slain on Nov. 14. He was allegedly killed by settlers while taking water and food to communities protecting their land on Nicaragua's northern Caribbean coast.
The U.N. expert urged the government to investigate his killing. The U.N. demands that the government has a responsibility “to ensure a safe and supportive environment for those who defend the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples in Nicaragua.”
Macario, an indigenous Mayangna leader, originally from the Autonomous Region of the Northern Caribbean Coast, had campaigned against illegal gold mining and logging taking place in his community, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, OCHA.
"The government has a duty to ensure a safe and supportive environment,” the U.N. said in its statement. “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.”
According to OCHA, these attacks have occurred in a context of socio-political and human rights crisis, which has worsened since 2018. Laws recently approved by the National Assembly in Nicaragua further restrict the civic and democratic space.
The U.N. independent expert concluded by echoing U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s request that the Nicaraguan government “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.”
Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not paid for their work.
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