Fri, Aug 31, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Ortega government behind widespread repression: report


Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega holds up documents with signatures in his support at an event in Managua on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

A UN report released on Wednesday on four months of unrest in Nicaragua described a comprehensive effort of repression by the government that extends from the streets to the courts.

The report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to immediately halt the persecution of protesters and to disarm masked civilians it alleges are responsible for many of the killings and arbitrary detentions.

More than 300 people have been killed in violence since the middle of April in the Central American nation.

The report described illegal arrests, torture and closed trials.

Doctors, professors and judges who have spoken out or protested have been dismissed from their jobs to discourage people from participating in or supporting protests, the report said.

“The level of persecution is such that many of those who have participated in the protests, defended the rights of the protesters, or simply expressed dissenting opinion have been forced to hide, have left Nicaragua or are trying to do so,” the report said.

“Repression and retaliation against demonstrators continue in Nicaragua as the world looks away,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the report “highlights what we have been saying for months: Ortega is terrorizing his own people.”

“Until the Nicaraguan people are able to use their voices freely and peacefully, the international community must continue to pressure the regime. Failure to do so will lead to another Venezuela,” Haley said.

Ortega’s government dismissed the report as baseless and relying on anti-government media accounts. It denied accusations of excessive use of force against protesters.

“The report is biased and slanted with subjective assertions,” the government said, adding that it included no mention of Ortega’s allegations of an attempted coup.

The UN had not been invited to evaluate the human rights situation, but rather to accompany the verification commission established as part of the national dialogue, the government said, accusing the UN of overstepping its authority and violating Nicaragua’s sovereignty.

Ortega has accused international agents and internal enemies of conspiring to overthrow his government, saying that he would not step down before his term ends in 2021.

The protests have continued, but are smaller, as student leaders have been arrested or forced into hiding or exile.

“There are currently no conditions for the free and safe exercise of the rights to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association,” the UN report said.

The UN team said it reached its conclusions, despite government obstacles thrown in its path.

It said team members could not access government agencies or observe court hearings for those accused of crimes ranging from organized crime to terrorism for participating in the protests.

When the team attempted to travel outside the capital, it said the Nicaraguan Ministry of Foreign Affairs forbade it, citing security reasons.

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