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Nicaragua human rights abuses similar to Nazi regime, investigators say


Nicaragua’s president, his wife and senior government officials committed human rights abuses – including torture and murder – so serious they amounted to crimes against humanity, a team of investigators have found of the United Nations, providing evidence of all the efforts made to try them abroad.

At a press conference on Thursday, the head of the investigation called for international sanctions against the government and compared Nicaragua’s human rights record to that of the Nazis, saying the government’s tactics to retain power from 2018 were similar to those observed during the Nuremberg trials.

“The militarization of the justice system against political opponents as is done in Nicaragua is exactly what the Nazi regime did,” said Jan-Michael Simon, who led the team of UN-appointed criminal justice experts. , in an interview.

“People massively stripped of their nationality and expelled from the country: that’s exactly what the Nazis did too,” he added.

The Biden administration has imposed sanctions on President Daniel Ortega’s government and family in recent years, though the UN report could have even wider repercussions, including charges in other countries, according to sources. human rights experts.

Under universal jurisdiction, courts in any country can try people for atrocities committed anywhere and has become a global mechanism for human rights lawyers, primarily in Europe, to prosecute war crimes committed by governments such as Syria and Liberia.

“If let’s say Daniel Ortega’s son is in Spain tomorrow, someone could go to a local judge on these grounds and convince him to go and arrest this guy,” said José Miguel Vivanco, deputy principal researcher for human rights at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The UN’s finding that Nicaragua has committed crimes against humanity could also affect the government’s ability to secure international funding, Simon said.

In 2018, Mr. Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, faced a massive uprising of political dissent, as hundreds of thousands of protesters demonstrated against cuts to Social Security and the deterioration of democracy, blocking the streets and paralyzing the country.

The government has deployed every power at its disposal to crack down on protesters, UN investigators have found, with police forces and pro-government groups acting in concert with deadly results.

Police fired at protesters in a systematic manner, together with armed groups that were not authorized to use force, according to the report. Extrajudicial executions were committed by the police and government-allied groups. Police carried out highly coordinated operations to close the barricades using violent tactics, investigators found.

The UN’s analysis of 40 extrajudicial executions showed that police officers and pro-government groups acted in a “coordinated manner”.

By the time the protests were finally halted, hundreds of people had been killed.

To this day, Mr. Simon said, “violations continue to be committed”.

The government denied deliberately killing protesters and called the demonstrations a violent coup attempt, noting that at least two dozen police officers also died. The government did not participate in the UN report or allow investigators access to the country.

Investigators also said the government systematically carries out arbitrary detentions and prosecutions of government opponents using multiple government institutions, including the National Assembly, police, judiciary, public defender’s office, penitentiary and the Institute of Forensic Medicine. People were tortured in police custody, the report concludes.

“The Nicaraguan state, in fact, has literally armed all state institutions in terms of control and repression,” Simon said. “The word is militarization. They militarized the judicial system, militarized the legislative function, militarized the executive function. »

The vice president, who serves as the government’s spokesperson, did not respond to a request for comment from The New York Times.

The report comes just weeks after the Ortega government stripped citizenship from 300 Nicaraguans whom a judge called “traitors to the homeland”. Among those affected were human rights activists and journalists, among others, most of whom live outside the country.

The release of the UN investigation came as a welcome surprise to human rights activists.

“Before arriving in prison, that was not the language used by the experts. Now the language is stronger,” said Juan Sebastián Chamorro, a Nicaraguan activist who was released last month after 611 days and who is now based in Houston.

“It means that more evidence has been accumulated and can be used in a future international tribunal,” he said. “We are talking about more than 350 people who have been murdered.”

Mr Chamorro was among hundreds of Nicaraguan political leaders who have been swept away since protests in 2018 first rocked the country.

Rosalía Gutiérrez-Huete Miller, who was among the Nicaraguans who lost their citizenship last month, said the UN report was the condemnation protesters have been waiting for.

“Today’s legal finding validates and recognizes what we have been calling out for years,” she said by phone from Washington, DC. “There has never been a statement as clear as this. Often these statements are tasteless, trying not to ruffle the feathers.

nytimes Gt

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