News / 4 August 2017

Nicaragua Canal undermines human rights

A report published yesterday by Amnesty Central America shows that the plans for a new canal leads to numerous violations of human rights in Nicaragua. And that's even before the works have started. Many organisations therefore protest against the canal, supported by Both ENDS.

To enable the construction of the canal and various sub-projects like harbours, pipelines and an airport, Nicaragua has designed a special law. This so-called 'Law 480' has been pushed through by the government in just one week, in June 2013. The concession for the canal has been granted to the Chinese investment company HKND.

Report 'Danger: rights for sale'
The report 'Danger: rights for sale - The Interoceanic Grand Canal Project in Nicaragua and the erosion of human rights' provides an overview of how Law 840 came into being, what it entails and its possible future implications. The report shows that the law allows for large scale land expropriations and does not comply with national and international rules for participation and compensation, such as FPIC*. Furthermore the Nicaraguan government oppresses any form of protest against the canal.

Both ENDS' partner organisation Fundación Popol Na has also contributed to the Amnesty report. Director Mónica López already told us that "Law 840 gives the Chinese investor access to all natural resources throughout Nicaragua in the next 100 years to develop his projects. Under this new law, anyone can be evicted from their land for no reason and with no possibility to object."

Supporting education about and upholding of human rights
It is clear that Law 840 puts HKND's rights over the rights of the local, often indigenous population. As many Nicaraguans are barely aware of their rights, human rights activist Maria Luisa Acosta of partner organization CALPI made a trip along indigenous communities in August 2016, with support of Both ENDS. She informed them about their right to FPIC and investigated to what extent the government has followed these principles. This turned out to hardly have happened.

Now, indigenous leaders will use her report to submit their case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, with the support of CALPI, Popol Na and Both ENDS.

Both ENDS therefore welcomes Amnesty's report and will continue to follow the developments in Nicaragua closely.

More information:
Report by Amnesty 'Danger: rights for sale'
Also read our story about the Nicaragua Canal

*FPIC (free, prior and informed consent) means that local communities have a say in projects conducted in their own territories, without being put under pressure (free), before the projects begin (prior) and on the basis of correct information (informed).

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