Nicaragua: UN Human Rights Council Reports Basis for Future Sanctions

By Noelia Gutierrez (La Prensa)

Human rights advocates and activists from Nicaragua met privately with Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Photo: Noelia Gutierrez / La Prensa


HAVANA TIMES – The reports presented by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to the Human Rights Council demonstrate the severity of the repression which Daniel Ortega’s regime has exercised against citizens that actively oppose his government. These reports could form the basis for diverse countries to consider implementing individual sanctions or direct measures against the regime.

Vilma Nunez, president of the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (CENIDH), noted that while the UN Commissioner’s recommendations aren’t obligatory measures for any government – because the mandate of the international organization isn’t coercive – the direct effect of the Commission’s work is that the member countries can use them as reference points for defining individual actions against those that violate human rights.

“The Office of the High Commissioner holds as much moral authority as those governments that are respectful of human rights and form part of the Human Rights Council. The reports serve so that such countries can initiate bilateral measures… I believe that this work of the international organizations must be taken into account by the states that form part of the council, and impel them to move forward bilaterally on sanctions and corresponding measures in accordance with the bilateral relations that they have with the different governments,” stated Nunez.

The CENIDH president added that a concrete example was the framework for sanctions that was approved last October by the European Union Council against the Ortega regime, precisely for their human rights abuses. The approval of said framework for sanctions occurred a month after Bachelet’s presentation in September of a conclusive written report on the repression in Nicaragua.

For her part, Ana Bolaños of the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights based in Washington D.C., declared that all of the advocacy work undertaken by the UN Human Rights Council serves to “generate international pressure, making it evident that in fact Nicaragua isn’t complying with its international obligations in regards to human rights, and to demand accountability from the Ortega government.”

In addition, Bolanos noted that those in her organization have been in close contact with several diplomatic missions that are members of the Human Rights Council, and which have shown interest in supporting a renewal of Bachelet’s mandate to monitor Nicaragua.

This Thursday, February 27, the High Commissioner issued her third and final oral update on Nicaragua in which she asserted that the human rights violations “haven’t ceased”, all within the framework of “an extremely complex political and social context.”

This latest oral update was the last that Bachelet was mandated to offer on Nicaragua, a mandate that was approved in March 2019.

Private meeting with Bachelet

On Friday morning, February 28, part of the Nicaraguan delegation in Geneva to participate in the opening week of the 43rd session period of the Human Rights Council, met in private with the High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet.

“We came to continue denouncing the atrocities that the Nicaraguan government is committing towards us, the people, the families of the murdered, towards our children that are still alive. We spoke of the overall situation and she recommended that we continue with the denunciations and the call for unity above all, to be able to defeat the dictator”, commented Lizeth Davila, vice president of the April Mothers’ Association and mother of Alvaro Conrado, a teen that was killed in 2018 by a regime sniper.

Vilma Nunez, Dilon Zeledon, a student and released political prisoner, plus Josefa Meza also a member of the April Mothers’ Association, participated in the meeting with Bachelet. “We brought her up to date on what happened last weekend, with more than 40 people on house arrest; how they’ve let the OAS accord die; and the difficulties that the independent human rights experts have had in documenting the cases of crimes. We went over future perspectives, and what it means at this time to be calling for an electoral process without adequate conditions for undertaking it,” Nunez added.

The delegation arrived in Geneva on February 24. During the week, they met with different diplomatic missions and commissions, and were present at special procedures of the United Nations and international organizations.

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