Nicaragua: Lawyer Eilyn Margarita Cruz Rojas into forced exile
14th of september, 2021
Nicaraguan lawyer Eilyn Margarita Cruz Rojas was forced into exile after suffering continuous harassment and is currently in a very vulnerable situation.
Eilyn Margarita Cruz Rojas is a Nicaraguan lawyer and a member of the organisation Acción Penal, which is made up of former prosecutors. The Acción Penal initiative was created in response to the need for legal defence of political prisoners and legal assistance to people whose rights have been violated.
Eilyn Margarita served as a prosecutor in the Public Prosecutor’s Office for 13 years, resigning from the post in 2017. Since 2018, she began working as a lawyer advising and defending political prisoners and direct victims of Nicaraguan state repression.
In August 2019, Eilyn and two other colleagues were subjected to an attempt of intimidation by the police, who surrounded the offices of Acción Penal in Managua. Members of the organisation have publicly denounced the events, which are related to their professional activity and their critical stance against the arbitrariness of the Nicaraguan judicial system..
In Eilyn’s case, the harassment and risk increased from the end of May 2021, when she began to provide legal assistance to Cristiana Chamorro and members of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation. This harassment materialised in the form of a siege of her home by people dressed as civilians, men on motorbikes and in vehicles, as well as police. She was also detained when she left the Public Prosecutor’s Office on 27 May 2021, after presenting official documentation on Cristiana Chamorro’s file. This retention was carried out by members of the national police and people in civilian clothes, who photographed her vehicle, the documents she was carrying and herself.
In view of this situation, Eilyn was forced into exile. She left the country and was warned of regular visits to her home by people dressed as civilians, who asked to see her with the intention of handing over documents.
The lawyer is currently subject to precautionary measures imposed by the Nicaraguan State, such as the freezing of her accounts, the lifting of bank secrecy and a ban on leaving the country.
On the other hand, in addition to the social and political crisis that the country is experiencing, with the latest attacks on judicial operators, there is also the current crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Especially in prisons due to the impossibility of adopting preventive measures to avoid contagion, unsanitary conditions, limited access to drinking water, inadequate food and insufficient medical care.
Faced with this situation, the OIAD recalls that the independence of lawyers is one of the main indicators of democratic health and consolidation of the rule of law. This is in accordance with the provisions of the UN Principles for the Role of Lawyers.
Therefore, in accordance with the provisions of the UN Principles for the Role of Lawyers, and in particular Principles 16, 17 and 18 which state the following:
Principle 16: ” Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.”
Principle 17: ” Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.”
Principle 18: ” Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.”