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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Evolving Human Rights Crisis in Nicaragua

Thursday, September 27, 2018 - 9:30am
2200 Rayburn House Office Building


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on the human rights situation in Nicaragua in the context of ongoing socio-political unrest. 

Last April, demonstrations erupted in several Nicaraguan cities due to opposition to social security reforms decreed by President Daniel Ortega that would have increased taxes and decreased benefits. President Ortega cancelled the reforms five days later, but the protests continued and have grown into a broad opposition movement that is calling for the president’s resignation and a range of democratic reforms. The government has responded with repression, provoking the deadliest violence since the end of the country’s internal armed conflict in 1989.

National and international human rights bodies including the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IACHR) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have documented excessive use of force, including hundreds of protest-related deaths, torture and ill-treatment, and enforced disappearance, as well as violations of the fundamental human rights to freedom of expression, assembly and due process. Students, activists, religious leaders, journalists, and medical personnel are facing persecution and judicial harassment. The abuses are attributed primarily to the government, its police force, and pro-government armed groups. Thousands of Nicaraguans have been forced into hiding or have fled the country, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In spite of the violence deployed against it, the opposition movement has remained firmly committed to non-violence.

Witnesses will provide up-to-date information on the human rights situation in the country and offer recommendations for reducing violence and advancing necessary reforms.  

This hearing will be open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. The hearing will be livestreamed via the Commission website,, and will also be available for viewing via the House digital television system. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton at (202) 225-3599 or (for Mr. McGovern) or Jamie Staley at (202)226-1516 or (for Mr. Hultgren).

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
Randy Hultgren, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC

Opening Remarks


Panel I

  • Maria Claudia Pulido, Assistant Executive Secretary for Monitoring, Promotion and Technical Cooperation, Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR)
    Written testimony
  • Guillermo Fernández-Maldonado, Senior Human Rights Officer, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
    Written testimony

Panel II

  • George Henriquez, Member, Platform for Social Movements and Civil Society Organizations (Articulación de Movimientos Sociales y OSC)
    Written testimony
  • Julio Martinez Ellsberg, Member, Platform for Social Movements and Civil Society Organizations
    Written testimony


Submitted for the Record




115th Congress