Enforced Disappearance, Ortega’s New Strategy, says Amnesty Int.

By La Prensa

HAVANA TIMES – The latest Amnesty International report “Where are they? Enforced disappearance as a strategy of repression in Nicaragua,” published on August 25, denounced that in Nicaragua enforced disappearance is a new repressive tactic used by the Ortega regime to silence critical citizens and opponents.

Erika Guevara Rosas, Director for the Americas at Amnesty International, pointed out that the government of Daniel Ortega is implementing “a new strategy to try to silence those who speak out. By disappearing opponents, activists and journalists, Ortega shows his fear of criticism and denunciation.”

Amnesty International, in its 30-page report, documents 10 cases of people arrested for their activism or for exercising their right to freedom of expression, who today are subjected to enforced disappearance, in the custody of Nicaraguan authorities. The cases pertain to the opponents: Daysi Tamara Dávila, Miguel Mendoza, José Pallais, Suyén Barahona, Víctor Hugo Tinoco, Félix Maradiaga, Ana Margarita Vijil, Violeta Granera, Jorge Hugo Torres and Dora María Téllez.

AI notes that the documented cases are “a sample of a new pattern of arrests that are followed by enforced disappearances and bear enormous similarities with the cases of dozens of other people who could be in the same situations.”

In the presence of a new phase of repression

Amnesty International points out that the regime has entered a new phase of repression that stands out with the arrest of a new group of government opponents, which began on May 28, 2021, and that as of August 2, were already more than thirty citizens deprived of liberty, who are added to the more than 120 male and female longer standing political prisoners.

For this reason, Amnesty points out that these arrests, followed by the concealment of their whereabouts, constitute “the crime of enforced disappearance, in light of the international obligations that the Nicaraguan state has in terms of human rights.”

The report highlights that in all the documented cases, up to August 2 -the date the investigation closed-, even though the authorities reported the arrests, they did not officially reveal the exact location of the detainees, nor have they allowed the detainees relatives or lawyers to see them.  

“In most cases, the only information received on their possible location has been provided due to the insistence of relatives, verbally and by police officers who are at the gate of the Nuevo Chipote Police Complex. However, mere utterances from the guards, in charge of admittance to the detention center, are not sufficient, official and credible proof of the whereabouts and conditions of the detainees,” indicates the organization.

Given this situation, Guevara Rosas insisted that “families deserve to be certain whether their loved one are alive and where they are being held. The anguish they experience is one more punishment of the repressive policy of the Ortega government.”

Long list of victims

Immediately, the international agency assured that the 10 documented cases “are not isolated cases,” that they occur in a context where there are repeated complaints of other situations that bear important similarities and, therefore, Amnesty International maintains that “the cases analyzed would be only a reduced group of a longer list of victims.”

The director for the Americas of Amnesty International, Guevara Rosas, recalled that “this week there will be 90 days since most recent arrests began. However, the authorities continue to refuse to provide official information on the whereabouts and the conditions of detention.”

Along the same lines, the international organization reiterated that since the beginning of the human rights crisis in Nicaragua, in April 2018, “reports on acts of harassment against people identified as opponents of the government, human rights defenders, journalists, victims of human rights violated and their families, have not ceased.”

“Unabated” human rights violations

Finally, the international organization in its report underlines that the human rights crisis in Nicaragua “has continued unabated” in the last three years. So far, the authorities have not demonstrated the will to respect human rights and implement the recommendations of international organizations.

“On the contrary, the authorities continue to turn their backs on international scrutiny and refuse to comply with their human rights obligations,” indicates Amnesty International, for this reason, it urges once again to stop the repression, persecution and arbitrary detentions and provides the Ortega administration with the following recommendations:

  1. End the harassment and intimidation of critics or people perceived as opponents.
  2. End arbitrary detentions and immediately release those detained solely for exercising their rights.
  3. Put an end to the practice of forced disappearance and make reparations to the victims, including the families of the missing, as well as investigate and, where appropriate, punish those responsible for these disappearances.
  4. Immediately comply with the precautionary and provisional measures ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.
  5. Accede promptly to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and implement that treaty in Nicaragua´s domestic legislation.
  6. Accede to the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Forced Disappearance without reservations and implement its provisions in Nicaraguan legislation, ensuring to accept the jurisdiction of the Committee on Enforced Disappearance to receive and consider complaints made by victims or their representatives, and by other State parties.