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Nicaragua: Rights experts decry persecution of Government opponents

President Daniel Ortega and other high-level officials should be held accountable “as should Nicaragua, as a State that goes after its own people targeting university students, indigenous people, people of African descent, campesinos and members of the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations,” they said in a statement

The accusation comes in their latest report which details how the situation in the country has deteriorated over the past year. 

Long-term objective 

The report found that violations, abuses and crimes have been perpetrated not only to dismantle active opposition efforts, but also to eliminate all critical voices and dissuade any new organization and initiative to mobilize society in the long term. 

Nicaragua is caught in a spiral of violence marked by the persecution of all forms of political opposition, whether real or perceived, both domestically and abroad,” said Jan Simon, the group’s chair. 

As the Government has moved closer to its goal of total destruction of critical voices in the country, patterns of violations of the right to life, and personal security are less prevalent today, the experts noted. 

Instead, there has been an exponential increase of patterns of violations focusing on incapacitating any kind of opposition in the long term. 

‘Violations by extension’ 

People who have left Nicaragua have also been affected as they have been deprived of nationality and access to official documentation, as well as consular support.

Nicaraguan citizens have been left stateless and devoid of access to legal remedies. Relatives of victims of human rights violations are also victimized by the Government for their connections to real or perceived opponents. 

The experts said these “violations by extension” are particularly serious when they affect children, many of whom have been separated from parents who were deported or banned from entering Nicaragua. Some have been denied valid passports to join their parents. 

Centralization of State power 

The report also highlighted the consolidation and centralization of all State powers in the hands of President Ortega and his Vice-President Rosario Murillo, particularly the total control exerted over the judicial branch. 

“Centralization of power not only ensures impunity for perpetrators, but also undermines efforts towards accountability, “said Ariela Peralta, one of the experts.  

They urged the Government to immediately release all persons who have been arbitrarily detained, while also calling for expanding sanctions against individuals and institutions involved in human rights violations.  

Sanctions are a minimum form of accountability in a country where impunity and criminalizing democracy is the rule,” they said. 

The Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua is an independent body mandated by the UN Human Rights Council.  

Independent experts are not UN staff and do not receive payment for their work. 

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