UN experts denounce ‘exponential increase’ in human rights violations in Nicaragua

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By LatAm Reports Editorial Team

The report of the Human Rights Group on Nicaragua states that President Ortega’s government is committing “abuses and crimes” to “eliminate all critical voices and deter, in the long term, any new organization and initiative of social mobilization.”

A group of UN experts accused the Nicaraguan government of raising exponentially human rights violations last year, presenting on Thursday a report calling for strengthening international sanctions against Managua.

The report of the Human Rights Group on Nicaragua states that the government of President Daniel Ortega perpetrated “abuses and crimes” to “eliminate all critical voices and deter, in the long term, any new organization and initiative of social mobilization.”

“The Nicaraguan government continues to carry out serious systematic human rights violations, equivalent to crimes against humanity, for political reasons,” the Group said, reiterating expressions of the report presented a year ago.

However, “the situation has worsened” over the past year due to the “consolidation and centralization of all the powers and institutions of the State,” especially the judiciary, in the hands of Ortega and his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, he adds.

“During 2023 there has been an exponential increase in rape patterns focused on incapacitating any kind of long-term opposition,” according to the document.

“President Ortega, Vice President Murillo and high-level officials identified in the investigation must be accountable to the international community,” said the president of the expert group, Jan Simon.

The group of experts is independent and was created in 2022 by mandate of the UN Human Rights Council to investigate abuses committed in Nicaragua since April 2018, when protests broke out against the Ortega government, whose repression left 355 dead and hundreds of detainees (ongicemen, social leaders, businessmen, journalists).

Spiral of silence

The report stresses that the repression of any real or imaginary opposition “has become more subtle,” and points out in particular “university students, indigenous peoples, peoples of African descent, peasants and members of the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations.”

On February 9, 2023, the Ortega government released 222 political prisoners, expelled them to the United States and stripped them of their nationality, accusing them of “traitors to the homeland.” A week later, 94 dissidents were removed from the nationality of them in exile, including writers Sergio Ramírez and Gioconda Belli.

A week ago, Ortega justified the dispossession of nationality to these 316 Nicaraguans who sent into exile, accusing them of “traitors” and “selling.”

A bishop, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, was also imprisoned and stripped of his nationality in 2023, but preferred prison to exile. Last January he was released, along with 16 other priests and two seminarians, and sent to Rome under an agreement with the Vatican.

In addition, more than 3,500 oenegés, many of them religious, have been closed in Nicaragua since 2018 and their property has passed into the hands of the State. Catholic universities, the Red Cross and the Boy Scouts association have run the same.

“The government has consolidated a spiral of silence that incapacitates any potential opposition,” Simon said.

Immediate action

The report argues that “children and girls have been violent” by the activities or opinions of their parents or relatives, and “deportations and prohibitions of entry into Nicaragua have resulted in the separation” of many families.

“The centralization of power not only guarantees impunity for the perpetrators, but also undermines efforts to achieve accountability. The government has made sure to stay in an increasingly solid bubble to perpetuate itself in power,” said expert Ariela Peralta.

In addition, “the persecution extends beyond Nicaragua’s borders, given the effects of the deprivation of its nationality and legal personality, the lack of access to official documentation and consular support,” said expert Angela Buitrago.

“The effect on the Nicaraguan population is devastating. It will take a significant amount of time and resources for the people of Nicaragua and the international community to recover everything lost,” Simon said.

Ortega, 78, in power since 2007 and successively re-elected in questioning elections, faces a wave of condemnation from the international community because of his authoritarian drift.

The group urged the international community “to take immediate action, including by expanding sanctions against individuals and institutions involved in human rights violations.”

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in Diario El Mundo