Defending Defenders in Nicaragua

Lottie Cunningham is helping the Miskito protect their traditional lands.

ELAW Bulletins, The New York Times, Al Jazeera, and The Guardian have reported on the courageous work of ELAW partner Lottie Cunningham to defend the Miskito and others from violence “fueled by the promise of cheap virgin land, precious timber and gold, which has lured people to the lush tropical rainforests.” (The Guardian, 3/1/17)
Sadly, violence targeted at indigenous and Afro-descendent communities on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua continues, and Lottie and her organization, CEJUDHCAN, have also come under attack.

For two years, Lottie and her team have been harassed and received many threats by phone, text message, Facebook, and more.
ELAW has worked closely with Lottie through our Defending Defenders Program to ensure that she is safe.
We are pleased to report that the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) has granted precautionary measures to safeguard Lottie.
CEJUDHCAN and the Center for Justice and International Law petitioned IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to protect indigenous communities of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua and the human rights defenders working to protect them.
The IACHR issued the measures because it found Lottie “in a situation of emergency and urgency, since her life and personal integrity are threatened and at risk.”
The situation in the region is precarious. The Guardian reported earlier this year:
“Since 2015, dozens of men in the area from the Miskito indigenous people – and other groups, including the Rama and Ulwa – have been killed, women have been raped and families taken captive on the way to their farms, hunting or fishing.”
“This order from the IACHR is a big step forward,” says Bern Johnson, ELAW Executive Director. “Now, the Government of Nicaragua should heed IACHR’s request to safeguard Lottie so that she can do her work without harassment and violence.”
For more information about ELAW’s work with Lottie, please contact:
Maggie Keenan
Communications Director

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