MEXICO CITY (HPD) — The United Nations Human Rights Committee warned of the “serious deterioration” of human rights in Nicaragua since the 2018 social protests, during a session held Wednesday in Geneva and to which the Nicaraguan government Daniel Ortega did not send representatives.
The meeting was convened to review the IV periodic report on Nicaragua and its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 29 topics were discussed, such as the situation of imprisoned opponents, restrictions on freedom of movement, press censorship, irregularities in the elections and lack of judicial independence.
“It is clear that, in light of the information received, the human rights situation has been deteriorating very seriously,” said the committee’s president, Photini Pazartzis, at the closing of the meeting. She regretted that the State of Nicaragua “has chosen not to engage in a constructive dialogue” with the members of that UN body.
He added that due to the absence of a representative of the Nicaraguan State, the session scheduled for Thursday was suspended, although the Managua government has 48 hours to send its opinions on the issues raised.
The Spaniard Carlos Gómez, rapporteur of the Committee, referred to the “mistreatment” of the Ortega government towards imprisoned dissidents (more than 200, according to opposition figures), who have been sentenced to up to 13 years in prison.
They “have been sentenced in closed-door trials, some in the same detention centers and without allowing prior interviews with their lawyers,” he said. He added that judges and prosecutors are appointed “for reasons of political affiliation” and not for professional capacity.
For her part, the Egyptian Wafaa Ashraf Bassim, pointed out that the situation in Nicaraguan prisons is “concerning” and that the government “has not responded to questions about the conditions of detention,” such as overcrowding, poor sanitation and food, and lack of access to medical care.
Bassim expressed alarm at the death, in February, of imprisoned opposition leader Hugo Torres, who was transferred to a hospital “belatedly” from the El Chipote police jail, as well as restrictions on family visits to detainees and for the “excessive” time of preventive detention (90 days) before the beginning of the trials of human rights defenders, journalists and opponents.
On the issue of freedom of expression, Gómez indicated that between 120 and 150 Nicaraguan journalists have been forced into exile and that the government has confiscated three media outlets since 2018. This year alone it has closed 23 radio and television stations, he added. .
One of the confiscated media is the newspaper La Prensa, whose manager Hugo Hollman was sentenced to 9 years in prison. Six other journalists have been sentenced to up to 13 years in prison, including Miguel Mora, owner of the also confiscated channel 100% Noticias, who had been imprisoned for the first time in 2018-2019 along with his press officer Lucía Pineda, he added.
The rapporteur highlighted that Ortega prohibited since September 2018 all opposition public demonstrations, as well as concentrations of political parties that do not participate in elections.
In turn, the Portuguese José Santos Pais indicated that in 2021 11 women and 39 men were convicted “for wanting to participate in politics, including seven candidates for the presidency” in the elections last November, in which Ortega was re-elected for the third time. time for a fourth consecutive term.
He stressed that today in Nicaragua “all powers have been concentrated in the Executive” and that in May 2021 a reform to the Electoral Law “favored the hegemony of the ruling party,” the leftist Sandinista Front.
The Committee session was attended by delegates from Nicaraguan civil society organizations, who presented ten reports in which they denounced human rights violations.
“Once again the State of Nicaragua fails in its international obligations, because it did not appear before the committee and did not respond to the list of questions from the group of experts,” said Wendy Flores, of the human rights group Nicaragua Nunca Más.
Olga Valle, director of the Urnas Abiertas social network, for her part urged the government to “immediately end the repression, the full freedom of political prisoners, the appointment of new electoral authorities and the return of the legal status of political parties. arbitrarily cancelled.
The Nicaraguan government has not reported the reasons for his absence.
Nicaragua is plunged into a crisis that began with the protests of April 2018, which were suffocated by police and paramilitaries with a balance of 355 dead, more than 2,000 injured, 1,600 detained at different times and at least 100,000 exiled, according to organizations. international.