Parishioners at the church of San Jeronimo in Masaya, Nicaragua surrounded by riot police enforcing the ban on festivities Parishioners at the church of San Jeronimo in Masaya, Nicaragua surrounded by riot police enforcing the ban on festivities  (ANSA)

Nicaragua: UN experts accuse government of crimes against humanity

A U.N. human rights groups releases a report detailing abuses committed by the government of Daniel Ortega against dissidents of the regime.

By Linda Bordoni

The United Nations Human Rights Group on Nicaragua said the government of Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega executed at least 40 people and ordered hospitals not to treat demonstrators wounded in anti-government protests.

In a report released this week, the experts listed abuses that they say constitute “crimes against humanity”. It explained that the violent crackdown began with the jailing of opponents and the outlawing of civic groups following the 2018 anti-government protests.

President Ortega claimed those protests were part of a foreign-orchestrated plot to oust him.

The report also condemned Ortega’s government for stripping 222 opponents of their nationality, after they were loaded aboard a plane and flown to the United States last month.

Crackdown against Catholic Church

The independent group’s findings come in the wake of a series of actions taken by Ortega against the Catholic Church. These include a 26 jail sentence for Bishop Rolando Alvarez of Matagalpa, who was falsely accused of conspiracy and false news, and an order to strip Bishop Baez of Managua of his citizenship.

A number of priests, a deacon and two seminarians have also been condemned to 10 years imprisonment on charges of conspiring against the government.

In the past few days, the government has also banned the celebration of traditional public processions of the Way of the Cross during the Lenten season.

Extrajudicial executions and torture

According to the report, Ortega's government engaged in “extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, torture, and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.”

The report found that “between 70 and 80% of the deaths of demonstrators were caused by firearms, and revealed that police and doctors demanded that relatives sign documents renouncing their rights to an autopsy of the victims' bodies or to file criminal complaints in the deaths.

It said those implicated in the killings include Ortega's Frente Sandinista party, its youth group, government employees, former members of the military and even street gang members recruited by people linked to high-ranking officials.

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04 March 2023, 15:53