Crimes against humanity likely committed in Nicaragua, says independent rights probe
Unveiling their first report to be delivered to the Human Rights Council on Friday, the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua urged the international community to impose sanctions on those responsible.
The experts concluded that President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo “put into practice these crimes” which continue today.
‘Widespread and systematic’
“Based on this investigation, we can conclude that widespread and systematic human rights violations that amount to crimes against humanity – and are motivated by political reasons – have been committed against civilians by the Nicaraguan Government since 2018,” said Jan Simon, Chair of the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua.
He told journalists: “They have been weaponizing the justice system, weaponizing the legislative function, weaponizing the executive function of the State against the population.”
Pattern of executions
From testimonies gathered, the expert report identified a pattern of extrajudicial executions carried out by agents of the National Police and members of pro-government armed groups.
It is believed that they acted “in a joint and coordinated manner” during anti-government protests between April and September 2018.
“These violations continue to be committed today,” Mr. Simon continued, who noted that the result was Nicaraguans “living in fear” of the Government.
“The scale you’re looking at it is in terms of executions… is more than 100; if it comes to torture, we would come to several hundred (or) even more, and if it comes to arbitrary detentions, this goes well beyond this number.
“Given then the other violations under political persecution, (it comes to) several thousand.”
Asked to confirm the scope of the investigation, co-author Ángela María Buitrago explained that information had been calculated and corroborated on extrajudicial executions, torture and preventive detentions. “There is an unlimited number of elements that allow us to compile this report and its contents about the people who have been threatened,” she said.
The report also indicates that agents of the National Police and the National Penitentiary System and members of pro-government armed groups “committed acts of physical and psychological torture, including sexual and gender-based violence” during arrests, interrogation and detention of opponents.
Assault on democracy
Highlighting how the Nicaraguan authorities had managed to carry out its terrifying campaign of rights violations, Mr. Simon insisted that they were “not isolated incidents, but the product of the deliberate dismantling of democratic institutions and destruction of civic and democratic space”
He added: “These violations and abuses are being perpetrated in a widespread and systematic manner for political reasons, constituting the crimes against humanity of murder, imprisonment, torture, including sexual violence, deportation and persecution on political grounds.”