He Group of Experts on Human Rights on Nicaragua* concluded in a report released Thursday that since the demonstrations that sought social reforms in 2018 “serious violations and abuses have been committed and continue to be to human rights” in that Central American nation.
The abuses highlighted in the report include “extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, torture, arbitrary deprivation of nationality and the right to remain in one’s country.”
The experts indicated that “these violations and abuses were perpetrated in a widespread and systematic manner for political reasons, constituting in crimes against humanity of murder, imprisonment, torture, including sexual violence, forced deportation and persecution for political reasons”, and indicated that the population “She lives in fear of the actions that the government itself may take against her.”
In the same way, they pointed out that the violations of human rights, which have been taking place since April 2018, “are not an isolated phenomenon, but rather the product of a planned process of dismantling the separation of powers and democratic guarantees and of a strong concentration of power in the figures of the President and Vice President of the Republic”.
They added that all this planning led to the “destruction of civic and democratic space” and that “the high authorities of the Government have managed to instrumentalize the Executive, Legislative, Judicial and Electoral Branches, to develop and implement a legal framework whose purpose is to repress the exercise of fundamental freedoms and persecute opposition members”, with the aim “of eliminating, through various means, any type of opposition in the country.”
Arbitrary detention and extrajudicial executions “as a pattern of conduct”
The Group also identified a “widespread and systematic use of arbitrary detention as a result of the instrumentalization of criminal law and the justice system to persecute, impute and accuse persons from the civilian population of Nicaragua, opponents of its Government or perceived as such”.
during the investigation the existence of extrajudicial executions was verified“as a pattern of conduct” led “by agents of the National Police and members of pro-government armed groups who acted jointly and in a coordinated manner,” said expert Angela Buitrago.
The specialist added that after the protests that took place between mid-April and the end of September 2018, “the government obstructed all kinds of investigations into these and other deaths.”
In addition, the Group has “information that agents of the police and the National Penitentiary System and members of pro-government armed groups committed acts of physical and psychological torture, including sexual violence and gender violence in the context of the apprehensions, interrogations, and detention of opposition people”, declared Jan Simon, also a member of the Group of Experts.
“All these actions are possible because the State has been instrumentalized as a weapon of persecution against the population. To expedite this process, the authorities have sought the persecution, criminalization and elimination of any opposition voice. Thousands of human rights defenders, NGO workers, activists, journalists, student leaders, religious figures, and artists, as well as the main national and territorial leaders of the political opposition, were forced to leave the country,” added Buitrago.
Virtually all independent media and human rights organizations operate from abroad and, from December 2018 onwards, 3,144 civil society organizations have been cancelled, almost half of the organizations registered in 2017.
The experts considered that having documented the abuses, both the Nicaraguan State and the international community have the information needed to act and listed a series of recommendations for both.
Among what the Group recommends to the country are the immediate release of all persons arbitrarily detained; cease the arbitrary deprivation of nationality and forced deportation among other modalities of political persecution; independently and thoroughly investigate abuses and violations for accountability; guarantee repair and non-recurrence; defend the right of victims to know the truth; and implement legislative and public policy measures to guarantee democratic principles and the separation of powers.
Recommendations to the international community include initiating legal action against those responsible for the documented violations and crimes; expand sanctions to institutions and individuals involved in crimes and violations; and prioritize respect for human rights when negotiating cooperation and investment projects in Nicaragua.
*The Working Group is part of what is known as procedures specials of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name for the Council’s independent human rights monitoring mechanisms. The Working Group informs the Human Rights Council Yet the general Assembly from the ONU. Special Procedures mandate holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address specific country situations or thematic issues around the world. The experts are not UN staff and are independent of any government or organization. They provide their services individually and do not receive a salary for their work.