“Neither Free, Fair nor Transparent”
Report shows restrictions to political rights, modifications to pluralism and a legal framework incompatible with international standards.
HAVANA TIMES – The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stated in a “quick report” that the recent municipal elections in Nicaragua “did not comply with international human rights standards” and —like the 2021 general elections— were not “free, fair or tra nsparent,” so that their results lack “democratic legitimacy.”
The report entitled Crisis in Nicaragua: Municipal Elections and Violation of Civil and Political Rights,” emphasizes the context of repression in which the electoral process took place and points out that the results presented by the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), allocating 100% of the country’s City Hall’s to the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), was predictable.
“The electoral result confirms the trend seen since the 2012 elections, in which an incremental control of the local administrations began, which has been consolidated with these elections with the total control of the 153 municipal governments,” explains the document.
Likewise, in the pre-electoral context, OHCHR observed restrictions to the civil and political rights of Nicaraguans, affecting political pluralism, an electoral legislative framework incompatible with human rights standards and alterations in the voter registration lists and verification mechanisms.
Arrests in several municipalities
OHCHR received information that between November 1 and 8, there were “31 alleged arbitrary detentions linked to the election process.” To date, 13 of these detainees remain deprived of freedom.
The arrests, warns OHCHR, were characterized by “the use of violence by the security forces and were directed at activists of political parties, student groups, civil society organizations and relatives of other people detained in the context of the sociopolitical crisis in Nicaragua.”
The report also points out that the largest number of arrests took place in the department of Carazo, with 10 detentions in six different municipalities, followed by Rio San Juan.
Regardless of the detentions recorded, “no incidents of physical violence were publicly reported on election day,” says the quick report. However, the voting was marked among other things “by abstentionism,” the absence of election observers and a greater police presence in municipalities with anti-Sandinista tradition.
Additionally, in the days after the elections “the Yatama Party supporters claimed to have won in the Waspam municipality in the Northern Caribbean Coast. Following the denunciation, incidents were reported in the municipality and in Bilwi, with police harassment and repression, detentions, searches, and checkpoints,” OHCHR highlighted.
The OHCHR report also notes that the events registered in the electoral context in Nicaragua “compromise” the rights of citizens to participate in the conduction of public affairs, voting and being elected, as is established in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Prior to the elections, “the institutional and legislative framework in Nicaragua did not comply with international standards in electoral matters because it did not guarantee equality, independence, transparency or freedom,” the document notes.
In this sense, the UN organization points out that “the free communication of information and ideas regarding political issues between citizens and political candidacies is indispensable to ensure access to electoral rights. For this, it is necessary to have an independent press that can provide information without censorship or restrictions to public opinion.”
In addition, “an adequate election calendar, allowing the necessary time to develop an effective electoral campaign, public information efforts, voter registration, etc.,” is necessary “to guarantee the political rights of citizens and a “genuine” electoral process.
However, during the pre-electoral and electoral phase, “the Nicaraguan authorities failed to ensure a safe and enabling environment in which human rights were respected and enjoyed, particularly political rights, peaceful assembly, equality and non-discrimination, freedom of expression and association,” the quick report concludes.