On Monday, September 2, Maria Oviedo, lawyer and human rights advocate from Nicaragua’s Permanent Commission for Human Rights will be sentenced.
HAVANA TIMES – Maria Oviedo, an attorney with Nicaragua’s Permanent Commission for Human Rights (CPDH) who has defended a number of the regime’s political prisoners, was declared guilty on Thursday, August 29, following a trial that lasted over ten hours.
The charge, obstruction of official functions, stemmed from an incident last July 26 involving Oscar Lopez, a police lieutenant who insulted her and attempted to fondle her during a visit with political prisoner Cristhian Fajardo in the Masaya police delegation.
On the evening prior to the trial, human rights advocates denounced that the police were directing the deliberate harassment and aggression aimed at the lawyers for the political prisoners and members of the opposition. At the same time, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission urged the Ortega government not to criminalize the work of the human rights advocates in the country, making specific mention of the case of Attorney Maria Oviedo.
Oviedo’s sentence will be read on Monday, September 2nd. At the end of July 2019, Oviedo was illegally held for over 50 hours in the Masaya jail cells and at the infamous El Chipote jail in Managua.
Members of the Permanent Commission for Human Rights were waiting outside the Managua courthouse to hear the verdict. The lawyers took advantage of the occasion to denounce the fact that Nalia Ubeda, the judge from Managua’s third local criminal court, didn’t even allow a pause so that Oviedo and her colleague and attorney Leyla Prado could have lunch.
“It’s one more indication of the cruelty with which they’ve treated human rights advocates, because Leyla Prado is currently recovering from a renal illness. That didn’t matter to the court, and they ran the trial in a single unbroken session,” complained CPDH lawyer Karla Sequeira.
Lawyers constantly harassed
Meanwhile, attorney Aura Estela Alarcon, a member of the Legal Defense Unit, filed a complaint after a police chief was observed protecting a group of people in his private office, minutes after they had assaulted and robbed her in front of some thirty police agents who refused to come to her aid. This, she affirmed, occurred on August 19th.
“I’ve decided to make a public denunciation, because these events are affecting me – and not only me, but also a group of colleagues who, like myself, are dedicated to defending other people’s rights,” Alarcon stated in a press conference.
The human rights activists have also complained of an increase over the last few weeks of the incidents of harassment against those who are defending the regime’s “political prisoners”.
“We’ve been registering an uptick in the repression of the defenders, and that puts into clear evidence the decline in our rights. It’s really very concerning,” stated Alexandra Salazar, also a lawyer with the Legal Defense Unit.
Aura Estela Alarcon asserted that when she went to file a complaint about her case at the District 1 police station in Managua, she observed that her aggressors and two known Sandinistas were there with her belongings in the private office of a police chief with the last name of Ramirez, under his protection.
The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights have warned that Oviedo as well as the other defense lawyers are protected by precautionary measures extended by the organization, but up until now the government has failed to assure them their due protection as professionals.
Norlan Gomez, attorney with the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (Cenidh), declared that nearly “all the defense lawyers for the political prisoners and those who work for human rights have been victims of a series of acts of persecution.”
According to Gomez, “the objective is to inspire fear in the defenders so that we cease doing the work that we’re doing.”
Alarcon had already been attacked by groups allied with the government last September 23 and again on March 16. Even though she was rammed by a car during one of these attacks, the authorities would not accept her denunciations.