Nicaragua ‘witch-hunt’ against dissent: UN experts

A group of UN human rights experts, including the special rapporteurs on freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and extrajudicial exections, issued a statement Aug. 9 urging the government of Nicaragua to "stop the repression" following 100 days of unrest in which at least 317 people have been killed and 1,830 injured. "Reports indicate that there has been an increase in targeted repression, criminalization and alleged arbitrary detention, which is creating an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty among different communities and among civil society representatives in the country," the statement said. "We are appalled that many human rights defenders, journalists and other opposition voices are being criminalized and accused of unfounded and overly punitive charges such as 'terrorism'."

The protests, which erupted in April, have recently decreased in number and intensity, following the removal of roadblocks by the government. However, UN experts said voices critical of the government, including rural community leaders, students, independent journalists, representatives of the Catholic Church and members of the Civic Alliance, are still subjected to intimidation, threats and deprivation of liberty. Health professionals assisting the injured have faced retribution and have been dismissed from their jobs.

"We deplore what appears to be a smear campaign aimed at discrediting or vilifying human rights defenders as 'terrorists' and 'coup-mongers,' and apparent attempts to undermine the opposition," the statement read.

The experts stressed the importance of the government keeping a clear and up-to-date record of the names and locations of those who have been deprived of their liberty. They added that those who face legal proceedings must be guaranteed their right to a fair trial. The statement also called on the government "to immediately demobilize paramilitary groups and to investigate the extrajudicial executions, killings and reports of enforced disappearances with due diligence," and to "refrain from engaging in practices of criminalization against human rights defenders and other activists, including through the inappropriate use of national security and counter-terrorism legislation." (OHCHR, Aug. 9)

Poto via Noticiias ONU

  1. One dead in new Nicaragua violence

    A new mobilization for the release of detained protesters was held in several cities across Nicaragua Aug. 11. An armed confrontation between protesters and government supporters broke out at the march in Matagalpa, leaving one dead. Accounts were unclear as to which side the fallen was on. (Diario Metro, Nuevo Diario, La Prensa)

  2. Nicaraguan rights groups shut down

    Nicaraguan lawmakers on Dec. 13 blocked five non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that had been critical of President Daniel Ortega from formally operating, a day after blocking five others, including a prominent human rights group. International human rights organizations said the move was retaliation against the groups for highlighting human rights violations committed during eight months of anti-government protests.

    The protests left at least 322 dead and more than 500 people in jail, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH)—one of the organizations that was stripped of legal status Dec. 12 by Nicaragua's Congress, which is controlled by Ortega's allies. 

    The move was protested by the US State Department. (Reuters)

    On Dec. 11, US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA), a bipartisan bill that allows the US Treasury Department to sanction those implicated in rights abuses and corruption in Nicaragua. Human Rights Watch us urging its passage. (Today Nicaragua)

  3. Nicaraguan police ‘beat’ journalists

    Nicaraguan police are reported to have kicked and beaten several journalists who were protesting against raids on their offices. The journalists were outside a police station in the capital Managua, complaining that raids on the offices of a news website were illegal. They included Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who runs the news website Confidencial. He accused the police of acting without any justification. The protest came days after police raided and ransacked the offices of Confidencial, seizing computers. Chamorro is the son of former Nicaraguan President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro who led an anti-Sandinista coalition in 1990 to defeat Ortega in elections. (BBC News, Dec. 16)