Ortega Opposes Demand for “Transitional Justice” in Nicaragua

Pallais: “We’re proposing an independent Truth Commission; they (executive) say that it must be the Truth Commission already authorized by the National Assembly.”

EFE / Confidencial

A banner with the names of the protestors killed in the first 45 days of demonstrations, carried on Mother’s Day May 30, 2018. Photo: Franklin Villavicencio / Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – On Monday, April 8, the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy proposed applying the concept of transitional justice to try those responsible for the hundreds of dead left by the street protests against the government of Daniel Ortega since April 2018.

Transitional justice is a process involving special judicial and police measures that’s been applied in some countries following a war, an armed conflict or a crisis that leaves a tragic toll, to repair the massive human rights violations.

In Colombia, transitional justice is being applied following the conflict with the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). This initiative has also been applied in Guatemala, Ecuador and other countries.

Jose Pallais, one of the delegates for the Civic Alliance at the negotiating table, told journalists that during the negotiations between the Alliance and the government that were held through last Wednesday, April 3, the government opposed the proposal to introduce a process of transitional justice. These negotiations were abruptly broken off last Wednesday.

Pallais indicated that on the topic of truth, justice, reparations and an assurance of no repetition, the opposition offered a series of proposals, but none were accepted by the delegates of the Ortega government.

“We proposed a Truth Commission; they (the executive) say that it has to be the Truth Commission that the National Assembly [controlled by the official party] already authorized,” he noted.

The Civic Alliance proposed applying a system of transitional justice, but “they don’t accept transitional justice,” he continued.

On the topic of democratization, the opposition proposed constitutional reforms together with the electoral reforms, in addition to moving up the presidential elections scheduled for November 2021. These were not accepted by the executive branch either, Pallais added.

“While our positions remain so far apart, and we can’t see the feasibility of mediation via the witnesses and accompaniers, there’s no sense being there, seated at a dialogue among the deaf,” Pallais, a lawyer by profession, reasoned.

The politician advocated for both sides to open “their ears and bring their positions closer together”.

Negotiations between the government of Daniel Ortega and the Civic Alliance to overcome the crisis that exploded nearly a year ago concluded last Wednesday with no accords reached on the topics of justice and democratization, although the doors were left open to continue the conversations.

Ortega’s delegates asked for time to reflect on the points of truth, justice, reparations and assurances of no repetition, as well as those of democratization and electoral reforms. The negotiations did advance in the elaboration of protocols for the agreements relative to citizen rights and guarantees, and the liberation of those deemed “political prisoners”.

The Nicaraguan Catholic cardinal, Leopoldo Brenes, said on Sunday, April 7, that the first round of the failed national dialogue that had been held between May and July of last year, in which the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference participated as a mediator and witness, “was finished” when the dialogue table began to work on the topics of justice and democracy,” issues the government would prefer to leave untouched.