The Nicaraguan government is expelling a UN human rights team just two days after the agency published a damning report accusing Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s government of human rights violations against anti-government protestors.
The UN report, released last Wednesday, described repression in Nicaragua that “stretched from the streets to the courtrooms, where some protestors face terrorism charges,” notes The Washington Post.
The report calls on the Nicaraguan government to “immediately halt the persecution of protesters and disarm the masked civilians who have been responsible for many of the killings and arbitrary detentions. It also documented cases of torture and excessive force through interviews with victims and local human rights groups.”
The UN report “highlights what we have been saying for months: Ortega is terrorizing his own people,” said UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. “Until the Nicaraguan people are able to use their voices freely and peacefully, the international community must continue to pressure the regime. Failure to do so will lead to another Venezuela.”
Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands injured since mid-April, when civilians began to protest now-suspended cuts to the country’s social security system. The protests soon evolved into a widespread demand for Ortega to resign – which prompted a “repressive response” by the “police and pro-government armed elements,” reads the report.
The government then launched a “clean up,” which included the forceful removed of roadblocks erected by protestors and the occupation of campuses that had been controlled by students. More recently, government forces have “persecuted and criminalized” protestors. “Civil servants, including teachers and doctors, have been sacked, and people seen to be critical of the government have been harassed, intimidated, and even attacked.”
Based on interviews, detained protestors have been raped, mutilated, and burned with cigarettes and tasers.
Ortega’s government denies all accusations of torture and sexual assault and claims its actions were part of a failed coup attempt. It also criticized the report for failing to take into account the acts of violence conducted against members of the ruling Sandinista Party and insists that peace has been restored to the streets.
In response to the report, Human Rights Watch director Jose Miguel Vivanco urged the UN to launch an official investigation into the situation in Nicaragua:
“Ortega’s move to expel the top UN human rights body exposes his administration’s determination to conceal its brutality,” he said. “The council should demand an end to the crackdown and consider imposing targeted sanctions against high-level officials who bear responsibility for the abuses unless they reverse course, and ensure perpetrators are held accountable.”
The UNSC plans to meet September 5th to discuss its response. In the meantime, the agency will continue to monitor and report on the situation remotely.
Editor’s note: Nicaragua has serious problems and does not know how to deal with them. If it continues in the same direction, the country will likely fail. Greece had a safety net, in the EU. Venezuela did not.