At 6:30 p.m. on Friday, 8 September, Community Judge Celedonia Zalazar Point was murdered along with her husband, Tito José González Bendles, while they were at home in the community of Tungla in the remote territory of Prinzu Awala of the Municipality of Prinzapolka. It seems that the day before they had received a warning from a stranger.
According to the Center for Justice and Human Rights of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (CEJUDHCAN), Celedonia Zalazar was the substitute judge for the indigenous territory and her murder, carried out with firearms, could be related to a dispute over territorial property between settlers and indigenous people.
Celedonia Zalazar is the second defender of indigenous territory murdered in the Caribbean Coast. In November of 2016 Bernicia Dixon Peranta was shot dead along with members of her family. It is estimated that the conflict over land in the North Caribbean has so far caused 50 deaths, 3 disappearances, 80 injured people and hundreds of displaced persons, in a context of total impunity and omission on the part of the Nicaraguan State.
Human rights organisation IM-Defensoras issued a statement in which they said “we regret and condemn this crime and given the clear evidence of systematic discrimination against indigenous people in the justice system, often shown by the failure to investigate cases in which indigenous people are victims, we demand that the Nicaraguan authorities carry out an effective, expeditious and unprejudiced investigation, so that justice is done. This case should not become yet another example of the prevailing climate of impunity…Finally, we call on international human rights organisations and bodies to remain vigilant about the grave situation facing the indigenous communities of the Caribbean Coast”.