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Ortega and the List of Foremost Human Rights Violators

“The breakdown of the Rule of Law merits a differentiated response and a thorough follow-up,” says Vilma Nunez, President of CENIDH.

Human rights organizations in Nicaragua asked the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHRC) to include Daniel Ortega’s Government on a list of countries that most fail to comply with international and national standards in human rights matters. It has to do with the inclusion of a country in Chapter IV of its annual report on the serious violations.

National organizations participated in the annual public hearing of the IAHRC, in Washington, United States. The Government of Nicaragua was invited but was absent from the hearing.

“We believe that the breakdown of the Rule of Law experienced in the country warrants a differentiated response and thorough follow-up,” said Vilma Nunez, President of the Nicaraguan Center on Human Rights (CENIDH), during the public hearing, held on Thursday.

The inclusion of a State in Chapter IV is a dishonorable entry into the ranking of countries that violate human rights. It is a kind of “black list” of the countries that most fail to comply with the international and national standards on the issue. However, the commission is always very diligent and careful in making this decision.

“Nicaragua was for a long period of time during the time of the revolution included in Chapter IV. Afterwards, when the Government of Dona Violeta triumphed in 1990, and then during the other governments, the Nicaraguan state was withdrawn from this chapter. Ever since Ortega returned to power in 2007, Cenidh saw the tendency in this matter and when the functioning of State institutions became limited, began to request it and it always remained pending,” explained Nunez on the television program “Esta Noche” (Tonight).

Nunez believes that on this occasion the commission has to be consistent with the assessment that it has made before on the national situation. In addition, at the public hearing there was acceptance and even a strong deliberation by the IAHRC regarding the crisis affecting the country.

“Deliberation and concern that was seconded strongly by the regional representative of the Office the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, Marlene Alejos, which to a certain extent was exceptional, since there is a major concern by these international bodies for the protection of human rights on what is happening in Nicaragua,” assured the President of CENIDH.

Antonia Urrejola, Commissioner of the IAHRC, took note of the requests of the organizations participating in the hearing and said that they are discussing Chapter IV of the global report.

The Nicaraguan organizations also requested the IAHRC the immediate visit of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Edison Lanza, in light of the increase repression against journalist and communication media.

“In this regard, we also demanded that the IAHRC, through its rapporteurs, demand an immediate halt to the repression; document the crisis that Nicaragua is going through from on-site visits and demand that human rights defenders can exercise our role, free from blockades and persecution,” expressed the national organizations through a statement.

IAHRC continues to receive complains

Paulo Abrao, Executive Secretary of the IAHRC, reaffirmed the rule of law in Nicaragua is deteriorating. Photo: Courtesy.

Paulo Abrao, Executive Secretary of the IAHRC, stated that in Nicaragua the situation continues to deteriorate as days go by and that there is no day when this body does not receive a complaint of human rights violations in the context of the repression in the crisis that has been established.

“The environment of intimidation persists; people do not live in full freedom, they live in an environment that restricts their rights. Among the different phases of the repression is the installation of a police state,” said Abrao.

The Secretary of the IAHRC reaffirmed that rule of law in Nicaragua has deteriorated and that the decrees of the National Police prohibiting protests and establishing requirements to demonstrate, in addition to the laws used to restrict private property and accuse people of terrorism, are evidence of the critical situation in the country.

“If the IAHRC also begins to suffer consequences with of the hate rhetoric that was installed within the State, imagine the situation that is inside. To attack the Commission itself for doing in its work to denounce, means going as low as possible. The situation of this country is more than oppressive,” Abrao reiterated.

Antonia Urrejola, commissioner of the IAHRC, expressed her concern about the situation of the country’s political prisoners. She said that she feels overwhelmed when she sees news and knows about the sentences imposed on students and members of the citizen movement.

“There is a lack of guarantees for due process. There is swift justice against citizens who are accused of terrorism for exercising their right to protest, but not with the families of the 325 dead. We will continue permanently. We reiterate to the State of Nicaragua that it should respond to the requests for information and allows us to visit the prisons and go to trials and be able to give the appropriate follow-up,” Urrejola said.

The commissioner of the IAHRC also referred to the situation of the Miskitos’ human rights on the Atlantic Coast, likewise she pointed out the problems that occur in urban and rural sectors, as well as with the indigenous movements.

UN concerned about Nicaragua

Marlene Alejos, Regional Representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, noted during the hearing: “Nicaragua: repression and violation of human rights,” that there are fewer demonstrations and protests in the country, but that “far from being a sign of going back to normal, it seems to be a consequence of the actions of the State to eliminate them.”

“The harassment and threats against journalists and media workers not aligned with the government positions is very disturbing,” said Alejos in the hearing.

The representative of the Office of the High Commissioner expressed her “deep concern” because in Nicaragua continues the repression, criminalization of human rights defenders, detention of community and civic leaders and other people associated to the protests.

“Since the first of September, when the Government concluded the work of the mission, from our office we have followed up the situation. We have sent confidential communications to the Government of Nicaragua on relevant cases of human rights violations. We have also twice published monthly bulletins indicating patterns of observed violations,” Alejos reiterated.

The representative of the Regional Office of the High Commissioner, will make visit next week to Managua, to explore suitable conditions that will allow it to work in the country.

“The interest of the Office of the High Commissioner of maintaining open communication channels with the Government has been demonstrated,” concluded Nuñez.

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