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Ortega-led Nicaragua accused of abuses ‘tantamount to crimes against humanity’

  • The United Nations-backed Human Rights Commission on Thursday condemned human rights violations by the Nicaraguan government that “amount to crimes against humanity.”
  • Daniel Ortega’s government’s violent crackdown on political opposition has since expanded into a campaign aimed at “neutralizing all kinds of opposition in the long term” and will be the subject of an investigation starting in 2022. It has become.
  • For more than 40 years, Nicaragua has been under the on-and-off leadership of Mr. Ortega, a figurehead of the socialist Sandinista movement.

A UN-backed panel of human rights experts on Thursday condemned systematic human rights abuses by the Nicaraguan government as “amounting to crimes against humanity” and blamed various senior officials in President Daniel Ortega’s government.

The allegations, which have been vehemently rejected by the Nicaraguan government, follow an investigation into the country’s growing crackdown on political opposition. Ortega’s government has long pursued dissidents, but a turning point occurred in 2018 when mass protests against the government erupted and led to a violent crackdown by authorities.

According to the UN’s Independent Group of Experts, which has been investigating the issue since March 2022, the crackdown over the past year has focused on “neutralizing all types of opposition in the long term” and targeting large swaths of society. expanded to.

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The experts do not speak on behalf of the world organization, but work on behalf of the Human Rights Council.

“Gross and systematic human rights violations that amount to crimes against humanity continue to be perpetrated by the Nicaraguan government for political reasons,” the group said in a statement.

Yann Simon, the expert who led the investigation, told a news conference in Geneva on Thursday that the Nicaraguan government’s persecution targets “all forms of opposition, real and perceived, both domestically and internationally.” He said there was.

The state has targeted civilians, including university students, indigenous and black Nicaraguans, and members of the Catholic Church. Children and their families are now being targeted simply for their association with those who speak out against the government.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega arrives to attend the inauguration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on January 10, 2019. (Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Ortega’s government has repeatedly said that mass demonstrations against it in 2018 were an attempted coup orchestrated by the United States, and typically defends any crackdown as part of an anti-government conspiracy.

The government responded to the report Thursday, saying it was “manipulated” by a group of imperialist powers funded to “distort the reality of our country.”

“We do not accept these self-proclaimed human rights experts,” Attorney General Wendy Morales said in a video, calling them biased and basing their conclusions on “unrealistic and irrational” standards. denounced.

The human rights report, released after hundreds of interviews, implicates many senior officials in a crackdown that has cemented power in the hands of Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo.

The report says Gustavo Porras, the country’s speaker of parliament, is pushing for the passage of legislation that would further the crackdown. The paper said Supreme Court Chief Justice Marvin Aguilar Garcia received direct orders from Ortega’s government, ordering lower judges to follow suit. Meanwhile, the office of Chief Prosecutor Ana Julia Guido Ochoa is fabricating evidence against real and perceived opponents, the report said.

Experts also cited senior officials from the Home Office, the government agency that regulates immigration, and the agency that regulates non-governmental organizations.

Yader Morazán, a former Nicaraguan law enforcement official in exile, welcomed the report, saying it could help fight impunity in Nicaragua.

“This report presents a well-documented study that for the first time identifies the main perpetrators of abuses and crimes against humanity” and “reveals the structure and chain of command of repression by state institutions,” Morazan said. said.

In December, police charged the director of the Miss Nicaragua beauty pageant with a “beauty queen coup” conspiracy, accusing her of rigging the pageant against pro-government beauty queens. In February, the government further closed social organizations in the country, including scout organizations and Rotary clubs.

The report said the crackdown has spread across Nicaragua’s borders to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing government repression, with the majority landing in the United States and Costa Rica. Hundreds of Nicaraguans have been stripped of their citizenship, rendered stateless and unable to access basic rights.

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UN report calls on Ortega’s government to “arbitrarily” release detained Nicaraguans and calls on world leaders to expand sanctions on “individuals and entities involved in human rights violations” ing.

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