Nicaragua expels UN human rights investigators

This week the Ortega government announced it will expel the UN human rights office from the country in response to the agency’s highly critical report about the state-perpetrated violence and disregard for human rights. The report addresses the reprisals employed by state authorities against anti-government protesters.

“Repression and retaliation against demonstrators continue as the world looks away,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, referring to the ongoing human rights crisis in Nicaragua.

Initially, in early April, demonstrations focused on denouncing the delayed response of the government to forest fires in the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve. On April 18, thousands Nicaraguans across the country joined the protest in the wake of the government announcing social security reform and the reduction of pension payments.

The report is a detailed explanation of patterns of abuse and criminalization of the protesters, including “disproportionate use of force by the police that sometimes resulted in extrajudicial killings; enforced disappearances; obstructions to access to medical care; widespread arbitrary or illegal detentions; prevalent ill-treatment and instances of torture and sexual violence in detention centres; violations of freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression, including the criminalization of social leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and protesters considered critical of the Government.”

Photo by Antonio Ramírez.

In total, state response led to over 300 deaths and 2,000 persons injured, UN informs. These findings overlap with prior alarming signals from other human rights institutions. For instance, the report released in June by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights cites “the excessive and arbitrary use of force, including the use of lethal force, deliberately and systematically.” According to the UN Refugee Agency, since the beginning of the crisis, 23,000 Nicaraguans have applied for refugee status in Costa Rica.

In this light, the expulsion of the UN Office is yet another sign that the President Ortega does not seek reconciliation, but instead hides behind intimidation and politics of fear. The violence and impunity of these past four months have exposed the fragility of the country’s institutions and the rule of law, and created a climate of fear and mistrust,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

The UN human rights office urges the government of Nicaragua to “put an immediate end to harassment, intimidation, stigmatization, criminalization (including through the use of counter-terrorism legislation) and other types of reprisals in relation to participation in the protests, including against demonstrators, human rights defenders, political opponents, journalists and others.”

Read full report below:


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