UN human rights panel accuses Nicaraguan government of crimes against humanity

Mar 1, 2024 | 0 comments

A panel of U.N.-backed human rights experts on Thursday accused Nicaragua ‘s government of committing “serious systematic human rights violations, tantamount to crimes against humanity.” The allegation follows an investigation into the country’s expanding crackdown on political dissent.

Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega

The government of President Daniel Ortega has gone after opponents for years, hitting a turning point with mass protests against the government in 2018 that resulted in violent repression by authorities.

But in the past year, repression has expanded to large swaths of society with a focus on “incapacitating any kind of opposition in the long term,” according to the independent group of U.N. experts investigating the issue since March 2022. The experts do not speak for the world body, but work under a mandate from the Human Rights Council.

“Nicaragua is caught in a spiral of violence marked by the persecution of all forms of political opposition, whether real or perceived,” Jan Simon, an expert who headed the investigation, said in a statement. “The government has solidified a spiral of silence incapacitating any potential opposition.”

Ortega’s government has repeatedly said the mass demonstrations against it in 2018 constituted a failed coup attempt orchestrated by the United States, and often responds similarly to criticisms.

The state has targeted civilians, including university students, Indigenous and Black Nicaraguans, and members of the Catholic Church. Children and family members are now targeted simply for being related to people who raise their voices against the government.

ln December, police also charged the director of the Miss Nicaragua pageant of a “beauty queen coup” plot, saying she rigged the competition against pro-government beauty queens. In February, the government shut down yet another round of social groups, including the country’s Boy and Girl Scouting organizations and a Rotary club.

The report said the crackdown has expanded past Nicaragua’s borders to the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled government repression, largely landing in the United States and Costa Rica. Hundreds of Nicaraguans have been stripped of their citizenship and left stateless, unable to access fundamental rights.

The U.N. report urged the Ortega government to release “arbitrarily” detained Nicaraguans and called on global leaders to expand sanctions on “individuals and institutions involved in human rights violations.”
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Credit: El Pais

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