On November 1, 2022, two student activists affiliated with the Nicaraguan University Alliance (AUN), Mildred Rayo and Miguel Flores, were arrested by military personnel near the city of Sapoa, while en route to Managua. They were transferred to a military base in Managua, charged with conspiracy to undermine national integrity and propagation of false news, and convicted after nearly three months in detention.
Although Rayo and Flores are no longer students, both are long-time members of the AUN, which was established during the 2018 student protests that engulfed the country. The specific factual bases for the charges against them are unclear, but the charge itself is the same one that was brought against two of their AUN colleagues, Lesther Alemán and Max Jerez, both of whom were sentenced to 13 years in prison, apparently in connection with their activism. (See Reports) Rayo and Flores were found guilty in a non-public trial on January 25, 2023.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest and conviction of student activists, in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and association – conduct which is protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which to which Nicaragua is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting expressive activity, so long as it is nonviolent and responsible. In addition to harm to the immediate victims, the arrest of nonviolent protesters undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.
On February 9, 2023, Rayo and Flores were released, along with Alemán and Jerez and about 200 other political prisoners, and sent to the United States.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)