According to the Nicaragua Nunca Más Human Rights Collective’s June 29 report Nicaragua: Between Repression and Citizen Resistance, the Nicaraguan Population Human Rights Situation 2021-2022, “political persecution; harassment; siege; state violence; and arbitrary imprisonment of journalists, human rights defenders, civil society activists, members of organizations and non-profit associations, opponents, and members of political parties” are the main causes of the wave of Nicaraguan refugees.
During a mid-June oral update before the United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights Council, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet stressed that fundamental guarantees in the Central American nation have continued to worsen in the last three months, due to the sociopolitical, economic, and human rights crisis, and that the number of Nicaraguan leaving the country is increasing at a faster rate than before. “In the last eight months, the number of Nicaraguan refugees and asylum seekers in Costa Rica has doubled, reaching the number of 150,000, or 3 percent of Costa Rica’s population,” Bachelet said.
The Nunca Más Collective indicated that there are “incalculable underreporting of those persons who, due to ignorance or lack of information, do not have legal assistance; they are even victims of scams by unscrupulous people who charge them excessive amounts to get a refugee appointment, which never reach migratory authorities and therefore do not initiate the refugee process.”
“Between January 1 and June 30, 2022, more than 40,000 people requested refuge in Costa Rica, exponentially increasing the figures that have historically been handled,” Braulio Abarca, attorney for the Nunca Más Collective, told Diálogo. “In that same period of 2022, we have documented […] serious violations of fundamental rights and freedoms of the Nicaraguan population, mainly the rights to freedom of expression, mobility and movement; as well as the right to physical and psychological integrity.”
Costa Rican Minister of Foreign Affairs Arnoldo André Tinoco appeared June 16 before the International Relations Commission of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica and said that the migratory situation could worsen due to the deterioration of the sociopolitical and economic situation in Nicaragua.
Manuel Orozco, director of the Migration, Remittances, and Development program at the U.S.-based think tank Inter-American Dialogue, who has been investigating the Nicaraguan migratory processes, stresses that this exodus repeats itself for political reasons.
“In the 1980s, during the so-called Sandinista revolution, many Nicaraguans left to escape repression, military service, and a ramshackle economy. The reasons for leaving differ substantially between the two generations,” Orozco told Diálogo. “Almost half of those who left after the sociopolitical crisis of 2018 did so for reasons of insecurity and political situation. This number is much higher than in other countries of the Central American region going through situations of violence associated with gangs or organized crime.”
On March 31, 2022, the U.N. Human Rights Council appointed a group of independent experts to investigate human rights violations in Nicaragua, but the regime still hasn’t allowed them in. “The importance of collaborating with multilateral organizations is fundamental so that Nicaragua does not end up in an isolation that is almost inexplicable,” Bachelet said.
“The High Commissioner once again offered Nicaragua support to overcome the crisis situation that has been going on for a long time,” Alberto Brunori, representative of the Regional Office for Central America of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told Nicaraguan magazine Confidencial. “Offers like this should be seized without a thought to start building a society much more respectful of human rights, and try to help the Nicaraguan State, civil society, etc., to overcome the crisis. Not abiding by those resolutions leads nowhere.”