Amid ‘inhumane’ conditions, Bachelet urges Nicaragua to release all detainees |
Her latest delivery update across the country to the UN Dong Nhan Quyen Association in Geneva, Ms. Bachelet said many people are still detained after the political, human rights and electoral crises of the past four years.
Widespread protests broke out in Nicaragua in April 2018 after President Daniel Ortega announced planned social security reforms. Hundreds of people were killed in the crackdown.
Release all detainees
Last year, dozens of political opponents were arrested ahead of the November presidential election, which saw Mr Ortega take power for a fourth straight term.
“I take this opportunity to once again call on the competent authorities to ensure the prompt release of all those arbitrarily detained, and to ensure the physical and mental integrity their. Likewise, I strongly urge the authorities to conduct an independent verification of the conditions of detention,” Ms. Bachelet said.
Citing civil society sources, the High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that 173 people are being held in detention centers in connection with the 2018 crisis.
Another 50 people are being held as the 2021 elections are being held under conditions that contravene United Nations standards for the treatment of prisoners.
Children are denied contact
39 men and 11 women were sentenced to up to 13 years and ineligible for public office. Eleven people are currently under house arrest.
Most have been convicted of crimes including spreading fake news and/or undermining national integrity, while six have been charged with money laundering and related crimes. Ms. Bachelet said the charges were made based on allegations that were not proven in the judicial proceedings.
“Most of these detainees are still deprived of their liberty in police custody. This year, they are only allowed four times from their adult relatives, and children continue to be denied access to their parents in detention,” she said.
“Families report that their loved ones are being held in inhumane conditions, with particular concern for those in need of urgent, routine or specialized medical care, which authorities refuse to provide. ”
Ms. Bachelet also expressed concern about the significant reduction in residential space in Nicaragua.
Civil society is silent
Parliament has closed at least 454 institutions since November 2018, affecting not only national and international groups working in areas such as human rights, education and development, but also associations medical and occupational.
Academic freedom and university autonomy are also threatened. At least 12 organizations are now under State control after their legal status was arbitrarily canceled. In addition, study programs at all universities are now subject to central approval.
“Authorities have stated that affected organizations and institutions have failed to comply with their administrative duties and regulations regarding money laundering and terrorist financing. However, we know that their representatives have been prevented from defending their position with due process before an independent authority,” she said.
Furthermore, a new law that went into effect last month also makes it harder to register nonprofits. It gives the Government complete discretion over information about their funds, operations and beneficiaries. Other provisions prohibit participation in political activities and limit “foreign members” to a maximum quota of 25%.
The ‘unprecedented’ migration
The socio-political, economic and human rights crises are also forcing thousands of people to seek a better life elsewhere.
Ms Bachelet told the Council: “The number of Nicaraguans leaving the country is increasing in unprecedented numbers, even higher than in the 1980s.
In neighboring Costa Rica, the number of Nicaraguan refugees and asylum seekers has doubled in the past eight months, with a total of 150,000 new applicants since 2018, representing 3% of the total population.
The US is also seeing an “unprecedented increase” in the number of Nicaraguans blocked at their border. The numbers jumped from 3,164 in September 2022 to more than 92,000 this past April.
The 16,088 intercepts in March represent the highest number recorded so far in a month and eight times higher than recorded in March 2021.
Harassment and intimidation
Ms. Bachelet said her office has also recorded a number of cases of harassment and intimidation by the Nicaraguan government, putting the right to freedom of movement under serious threat.
“Passport renewals at consulates abroad have been refused in some cases, requiring individuals to go through the process in Nicaragua, where their safety could be at risk,” she said. threaten.
“Nicaraguars who intend to leave the country have also had their passports withheld without justification. In addition, entry into the country of an alleged Nicaraguan citizen was denied. ”
Nicaraguan police have also resumed harassment of Catholic priests, she said. The government also ordered the removal of the Catholic Channel from cable television.
Last month, international media reported that Bishop Rolando Álvarez, a critic of the Ortega regime, had begun an “indefinitely fast” inside a church after being followed by police.
Upholding human rights
Ms Bachelet pointed to “serious concerns” that the Government may be seeking to further intensify its campaign of repression against the political opposition.
In April, two parliamentary committees completed an analysis of the criminal law used to suppress dissidents, recommending tightening penalties and introducing other repressive measures such as confiscation. asset.
“I strongly urge the Government of Nicaragua to uphold – not to stray away from – its human rights obligations. I urge the authorities to immediately put an end to today’s policies that only aim to isolate the country and its people from the regional and international community,” she said.