A second wave of annulments of legal status was carried out this Wednesday, July 28, by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Deputies of the Daniel Ortega regime approved, with 72 votes in favor, a decree to annul the legal status of 24 NGOs, including 15 medical associations, comprised by specialists who have criticized the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in Nicaragua.
The FSLN deputies argued that the organizations “have failed to comply with their legal and bylaws obligations.” In addition, they were accused of “not reporting their financial statements to the regulatory body for several years” and of not presenting “the agreements they have with donors,” “identity documents of their donors” and “income receipts.”
They also indicated that these organization were “without leaders,” noting that the terms of their board of directors had expired.
The initiative of the decree was introduced on July 22 by the Sandinista deputy Filiberto Rodriguez Lopez, at the request of the Department of Registration and Control of Associations of the Ministry of the Interior, which sent a “report” where—according to officials—prove that these 24 NGOs have carried out their activities “outside the law” and have “violated” Law 147 regarding Non-Profit Legal Entities, and Law 977, against money laundering, financing terrorism and financing the proliferation of restricted weapons.
Among the medical associations whose legal status was annulled are: Assistance to Chronic Renal Insufficiency Patients Association Las Segovias (ASEIRCSE); Nicaraguan Association of Nephrology (ANINEF); International Action for Nicaraguan Health Association (AIS-Nicaragua); Nicaraguan Association of Diabetology (ANIDIAB); Nicaraguan Association of Pneumology (ANINE); Nicaraguan Association of Climacteric and Menopause (ANCYM); Urological Society of Nicaragua (ASUNIC); Julio Cortazar—National League Against Childhood Leukemia and Cancer; and the Nicaraguan Society of General Medicine (SONIMEG).
The legal status was also annulled of the Nicaraguan Medical Association (AMN); Nicaraguan Association for the Study and Treatment of Pain (ANETD); Nicaraguan Association of Dermatology and Syphilology (ASONIDEFI); Nicaraguan Association of Anesthesiology and Resuscitation (ANARE); Nicaraguan Association of Infectious Diseases (ANI); and Nicaraguan Association of Psychologists (ANIPS).
The decree establishes in its article 2 that the “assets that belong to the associations, foundations, will be liquidated, the allocation foreseen in its constitutive act or in their bylaws. If nothing was established for such an occasion, they will become the property of the State.”
The regime’s strategy against NGOs
The Nicaraguan Platform of NGOs Networks, made up of 100 non-governmental organizations, expressed its rejection of the annulment and pointed out that the decree is part of the Government’s “political-party strategy,” which argues breaches of the laws to violate the right to freedom of association.
It indicated that the Ministry of the Interior does not receive the updated paperwork of boards of directors, which forces the NGOs to remain without their respective certifications.
The NGO coalition urged international NGO networks in Latin America and the world to “condemn and show solidarity” with Nicaraguan organizations that “are demanding an end to repression and harassment of non-profits.”
The Ortega regime has denied that the annulments arise as a reprisal against organizations that are critical of its management. Sandinista deputy Wilfredo Navarro said during the session that “there is no persecution zeal” but rather the search for “compliance with the law.”
So far, the affected medical associations have not commented on the accusations made by Sandinista officials, who argue that they were based on a Ministry of Interior report.
In December 2018, deputies from the Sandinista Front also approved the annulment of the legal status of nine NGOs who publicly denounced the human rights violations committed in Nicaragua.
The NGOs whose legal status was cancelled in 2018 are: Information Center & Advisory Services in Health (CISAS), Institute of Strategic Studies and Public Policy (IEEPP), Hagamos Democracia, Communication Research Center (CINCO), Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), Popol Na Foundation, Institute for Development and Democracy (IPADE), Rio Foundation and Leadership Institute of Las Segovias.