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Court of Conscience: “State of Nicaragua committed crimes against humanity”

In today's news report: Channel 12 faces an embargo, repression against independent media has escalated and justice finally arrived in El Salvador

These are the news you need to know on September 14th | The Court of Conscience, convened by the Arias Foundation for Peace (Costa Rica), concluded that the State of Nicaragua committed crimes against humanity when police and parapolice forces tortured and sexually raped protesters detained amidst the anti-government protests of April 2018.

The judgment indicates that “the sexual violence committed by the State of Nicaragua constitutes a crime of torture and that such torture was committed in a systematic manner by agents of the state against the Nicaraguan civilian population.”

The judges analyzed four expert reports on legal, chain of command, context, and physiological matters, as well as the testimonies of 18 people who reported having been victims of sexual violence and torture when they were detained during the protests that broke out on April 18, 2018.

2. Repression against independent media has escalated once again

A group of journalists being attacked by the National Police in February 2020. Photo: Carlos Herrera | Confidencial

The television company, NicaVision S.A, operator of channel 12 in Nicaragua, reported this Saturday that the General Directory of Income (DGI) ordered the execution of an “arbitrary” embargo on the facilities of the television station, as well as it’s antennas, signal repeaters, and technical production equipment; for the demand of 21 million cordobas in back taxes that were allegedly evaded between 2011 and 2013.

In a statement, the channel’s administration indicated that Judge Luden Martí Quiroz García also seized all the personal assets of the company’s administrator, Mariano Valle Peters, in a measure that they classify as “excessive and illegal.”

The level of repression against independent media has escalated in recent weeks. For instance, 100% Noticias, a television channel confiscated and expelled from the air by the dictatorship in December of 2018, also denounced an illegal charge sent by the General Directorate of Income (DGI) and the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS) for an amount of eight million cordobas, corresponding to the period that the media outlet stopped operating due to government censorship.

Nicaragua’s private sector denounced that more than 200 companies face a situation like this and accused the government of undertaking a tactic of fiscal terrorism.

This Saturday, the police siege against Radio Darío in León continued, while several independent journalists face arbitrary trials, accused of libel and slander for exercising the right to freedom of the press.

Read more reports on the matter:

3. IACHR denounces 45 detentions in 30 days

A Nicaraguan citizens is detained by the National Police amidst the protest against the Nicaraguan government in March 2019. Photo: Carlos Herrera | Confidencial

The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) reported that it has documented 45 arrests “of protesters and opponents’ of the Government of Daniel Ortega in the last thirty days.

Opposition organizations, such as the Civic Alliance, denounced that the National Police unleashed a new hunt, after the so-called operation “Prisoner 198”, which consisted of pasting posters of Daniel Ortega on the streets of 132 municipalities in the country. At least six opponents were captured and released hours later, after the protest that broke the police fence.

This same week, the Civic Alliance presented a proposal of a country agenda for a post-dictatorship Nicaragua, which establishes profound changes related to justice, the rule of law, the division of power, and the economy.

The document includes 12 different actions and proposes to ratify the Rome Statute to try crimes against humanity, and the creation of an Independent Special Prosecutor’s Office to investigate and punish those involved in the repression against citizens since April 2018.

“In that new Nicaragua, El Chipote (prison) must be closed immediately and all types of torture must be eradicated (…) The Amnesty Law will be annulled, and all confiscated properties should be returned to their new owners”, they stated.

The proposal for the country agenda by the Civic Alliance was presented on the sidelines of the National Coalition, which is going through an internal crisis that has already exceeded six months.

4. Dictatorship promotes massive activities during National Holidays

Photo: Carlos Herrera | Confidencial

On Thursday, the Nicaraguan government announced that it will exempt the sales tax on sales made by food, drink, and lodging establishments during the Nicaraguan Independence Holidays, with the purpose of promoting domestic tourism.

The Ortega regime decreed that the entire week would be free from work for State institutions, followed by the encouragement of massive activities, such as school and recreational activities, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health stalled at three the weekly deaths from Covid-19 in Nicaragua, and 150 new infections, accounting for a total of 4,818 infections and 144 deaths from the pandemic up until September 8.

The official report is very different from the one issued by the independent COVID-19 Citizen Observatory, which on September 2nd reported 10,121 infections and 2,699 deaths linked to Coronavirus.

5. New COSEP president promises not to negotiate with the government

Michael Healy

Last week, the former president of the Nicaraguan Union of Producers (Upanic), Michael Healy, was elected as the new president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep) with 14 votes from 22 business chambers.

Healy affirmed that businessmen will not sit down to negotiate with the government until it has fulfilled its commitments to restore democratic freedoms on human rights, and promises to stay in office for the three years for which he was elected.

6. Diocese of Esteli denounces the government

The Diocese of Esteli denounced, through their social networks, the persistent official persecution of the government against the Catholic Church, which ordered the closure of its Technical Institute of Agriculture and the and the cancellation of the residence of the Colombian priest Luis Carrillo, who belonged to San Judas Tadeo parish, in the municipality of Condega.

“His residency in Nicaragua has been withdrawn, all for speaking out against injustice and human evil,” says the statement of the Esteli diocese.

The bishop of the Esteli diocese, Monsignor Abelardo Mata, lamented the decision that will leave hundreds of young people without their studies.

7. Mothers of April’s Museum receives award

Visitors of “Museo de la Memoria” at UCA. Photo: Carlos Herrera | Confidencial

The website “Museo de la Memoria contra la Impunidad: AMA y no olvida”, run by the Association Mothers of April, was chosen by an international jury as the best portal in the third edition of the Award for Digital Innovation for Public Freedoms, promoted by the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation.

www.museodelamemorianicaragua.org portrays the victims of the manifestations of the Daniel Ortega regime that began in April 2018. This museum presents portraits, a photographic archive collection, memorabilia, and stories of the victims. Furthermore, it counters the official narrative “that criminalizes citizens who participated in the civic protests”.

8. Organized crime leaves more than 20.8 million dollars

Organized crime and drug trafficking left 20.8 million dollars to the National Police between September 2019 and August 2020, according to a report presented by Fransisco Dias, general director of the National Police.

Recently, an investigation carried out by the digital medium Chequialo, demonstrated that so far this year, the seizures of cash, coming from drug trafficking, already almost exceed the historical figures that the police have achieved in a whole year, and that in the majority of the seizures there were no detainees.

9. The perpetrator of a massacre of Jesuits sentenced to more than 131 years

Inocente Montano, former Deputy Minister of Public Security of El Salvador, was sentenced by the Spanish National Court to 133 years and four months in prison for planning and ordering, together with the military leadership and the then Salvadoran President Alfredo Cristiani, the murders of five Spanish Jesuits nearly thirty years ago.

Among the victims of this massacre were the rector of the Central American University of El Salvador, Ignacio Ellacuria, and the former rector of the UCA of Nicaragua, Amando Lopez.

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This article has been translated by Ana Maria Sampson, a Communication Science student at the University of Amsterdam and member of our staff*

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