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Nicaragua: 51 Political Prisoners Moved from Jail to House Arrest

Political prisoners still have not received full liberty and their cases remain open



Daniel Ortega ordered the release of 51 of his political prisoners to house arrest on Thursday, while another 182 remain in prison and more than 90 of them are not recognized by the government as political prisoners.

The government describes the political prisoners as “terrorists” for participating in protests against Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, after the outbreak of the April Rebellion, in 2018.

The Ministry of the Interior informed that it complied with 50 orders “in favor of persons who were detained for having committed crimes against public security and tranquility.”

Once again, the released political prisoners do not receive an order of full liberty, but a change to house arrest, remaining as Ortega’s political hostages.

The 49 men and two women (one of them freed in another list of more than 200 common prisoners, on the occasion of the Nicaraguan Mothers’ Day on May 30th), were taken to their homes in vehicles of the Penitentiary System.

According to the authorities, the process of releasing 50 political prisoners to house arrest takes place by unilateral decision of the Government, with the observation of delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

For its part, the ICRC said in a statement that, following an invitation from the Government, it observed the process of releasing 50 people from the detention center located in Tipitapa, 25 kilometers north of Managua.

“We are happy that today, coinciding with Mother’s Day in Nicaragua, 50 families are reunited with their loved ones,” it said.

The statement added that in the coming days the ICRC delegates will proceed to call the people who were moved to their homes today to follow up on their cases and provide guidance.

Yonarqui Martinez, a lawyer who has defended dozens of political prisoners, told reporters that the inmates were transferred under secrecy from the prisons of the National Penitentiary System to their homes in the early  morning hours.

On the day before, the opposition Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, the government’s counterpart in the currently stalled negotiations to find a way out of the crisis, denounced that a list of 142 political prisoners disclosed by the Executive concealed 91 of them, since the total documented by the opposition is 233.

Another 336 political prisoners have been released to house arrest between the end of February and the beginning of May, according to official information.

Ortega committed in March to give absolute freedom (not house arrest or pending cases) to all political prisoners, no later than June 18th.

According to the latest report of the Committee for the Release of the Political Prisoners, some 730 people, including demonstrators and journalists, are under some type of prison regime in Nicaragua, for thinking differently from Ortega.

The Executive so far recognizes 468 prisoners, which it describes as “terrorists”, “coup mongers” or “common criminals”.

In addition to the political prisoners, the Nicaraguan crisis, which began with the social outbreak against Ortega on April 18, 2018, has left at least 325 dead, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which accuses Ortega, Murillo and their Police and paramilitary forces of committing crimes against humanity.