“Massive police deployments discourage Nicaraguans from demonstrating,” says the UN high commissioner for human rights.
HAVANA TIMES – The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, presented an update on the situation in Nicaragua on Thursday to the full body in Geneva, Switzerland. The former Chilean president warned that “human rights violations have not ceased, within the framework of an extremely complex political and social context.”
Bachelet began her presentation by ensuring that in 2019 the Nicaraguan economy contracted by 5.7%, and inflation and formal unemployment increased. Although she pointed out that the Government maintained “social spending as a priority,” she stressed that more than 98,000 Nicaraguans had left the country into exile, without basic conditions for a safe return.
“My office documented cases of threats and harassment, including seven people arbitrarily detained after their return,” she informed.
Bachelet’s office had already submitted a harsh report against the repression of the Ortega regime in Nicaragua. The rest of the follow-up to the national situation has been done from abroad, specifically from its office in Panama, after the Ortega government expelled the UN mission in December 2018.
“The right to peaceful protest is systematically denied. Massive police deployments discourage Nicaraguans from demonstrating. When protests were held, even during religious celebrations, the police abruptly dispersed them or government supporters violently attacked them,” said Bachelet.
Bachelet said she took note of the prisoners released by the regime last December but emphasized that 61 people remained deprived of liberty for reasons related to the 2018 protests.
“Forty of them had been arrested after the Amnesty Law entered into force in June 2019, charged with common crimes, such as possession or trafficking of narcotics and manufacturing, trafficking, possession and use of restricted weapons, explosive substances or devices. I urge the Government to release people who remain in jails for reasons related to the protests,” said the high commissioner.
Media still confiscated
Bachelet stressed that freedom of expression and of the press in Nicaragua remain restricted. She explained that some journalists have been forced to self-censor because of threats and fear of losing state advertising or their work.
“Since the first of August we have documented threats and physical aggressions against journalists, the media and their workers, and cases of theft or damage to media facilities,” said Bachelet.
The UN official noted that the offices of the Esta Semana TV program, Confidencial and 100% Noticias continue under Police occupation. In addition, the Ortega government has imposed a television censorship against the broadcast of independently produced programs on national television.
Although Bachelet welcomed the delivery of the supplies to the newspaper La Prensa, after having been held in customs for 75 weeks, she urged the Ortega regime “to adopt all the measures still necessary to guarantee the full exercise of this right.”
Bachelet reiterated her call to resume dialogue with the different sectors of Nicaraguan society, and to move forward with the necessary electoral reforms that ensure that the next elections are fair, credible and transparent.
“Peasant homicides and the situation of indigenous peoples are also a matter of concern. Of the 14 homicides documented by my Office in 2019 in the north of the country, the authorities reported having identified alleged perpetrators in only four cases and only sentenced one person,” she noted.
Nicaraguan deputy foreign minister complains about sanctions
After the intervention of Bachelet, the deputy foreign minister of the Ortega dictatorship, Valdrack Jaentschke, took the floor and called international sanctions “aggressions”, ensuring that the regime “integrally defends human rights.”
Jaentschke said sanctions imposed by the international community should be suspended, specifically those of the United States Government.
“We continue to respect the constitutional order and political rights of Nicaraguans. Free mobilization and political expression are guaranteed for those who express themselves in peace and without intentions to disturb the tranquility of the population,” said Jaentschke, whose government ordered an attack on Tuesday against opponents who went out to protest.