Nicaragua: Sixty-one Political Prisoners Still Remain in Ortega’s Jails

Family members of the political prisoners at a December 2019 press conference to demand freedom for their imprisoned relatives.  Photo: Carlos Herrera

The preliminary count of the political prisoners includes 35 awaiting trial, 21 declared guilty and sentenced for different fabricated crimes, and 5 who are currently detained with no accusation.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The release of eight dissidents in the last two days still leaves at least 61 protesters and opponents of Daniel Ortega’s government as political prisoners in the regime’s jails. The number is according to data from the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy.

Up until Thursday, February 13, the opposition counted over 65 political prisoners, but the number changes daily, due to the frequency with which people suspected of not being in sympathy with the Ortega government are arrested.

The latest eight prisoners to be released were sent home on February 13, under varying modalities of conditional release.

Thirty-five awaiting political trials

The count of 61, considered “preliminary”, includes 35 dissidents awaiting trial, 21 who were found guilty and sentenced for various fabricated crimes, and five who are in jail with no accusation yet leveled against them, specified the opposition movement in their report.

A group of students held a protest on the campus of the Central American University, for the liberation of the political prisoners. Photo: Carlos Herrera

Of these prisoners of conscience, 48 are in different Nicaraguan prisons, eight are being held in police stations, and five are in the National Police facility known as “New Chipote”. The latter jail is considered by human rights organizations to be a torture center, according to the Alliance.

The recent list of “political prisoners” establishes that 58 of the political prisoners are men and three are women. It includes ten who were recaptured after having been released by the government under the Amnesty Law, a law the opposition and the victims of the Ortega repression have rejected, because they maintain that the released political prisoners in reality haven’t committed any crime and don’t need Amnesty; at the same time, the Amnesty Law leaves hundreds of government-sponsored crimes in impunity.

The report issued by the Alliance also warns that there are two ongoing cases of physical mistreatment of  political prisoners, while an unspecified number of opposition prisoners continue with a total or partial hunger strike that was begun days or weeks ago in demand of their freedom, with no sign of the government complying with their demand.  

Persecution and harassment outside of prison

Another 56 people who are not in jail have complained of “political persecution, most commonly in the form of harassment from the police and paramilitary,” added the Alliance report.

“The regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo hasn’t ceased the political persecution against the opposition. This year, at least 34 new detentions have been reported. Eleven of those people are still in jail at the moment of this list’s publication,” the Alliance highlighted.

According to the organization, “many of the detentions have been carried out through illegal searches of homes or through abductions perpetrated by the paramilitary.”

The capture of dissidents forms part of the socio-political crisis that Nicaragua has been going through since the April 2018 civic rebellion against Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.

The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) as well as the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded that the Ortega government bears the responsibility for the violence that occurred in the context of the 2018 uprising, including “crimes against humanity”.

The IACHR offers a count of at least 328 deaths from that period, while Ortega recognizes 200.  Ortega also alleges that he and his government were the victims of a “failed coup d’etat”.

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