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(Geneva) – The UN Human Rights Council should renew the mandate and reporting mandate of the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua Nicaragua to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for two years, Human Rights Watch said today.

The group of experts was established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2022 with a one-year mandate to investigate abuses committed since 2018. On March 6, 2023, it placed before the Council reports finding reasonable grounds to conclude that the Nicaraguan authorities have committed “widespread and systematic” human rights violations, including murder, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, forced deportation, and persecution on political grounds crimes against humanity,

“By stripping 317 Nicaraguans of their nationality, the Nicaraguan government has left no doubt that it is one of the most brutal dictatorships in the region,” said Tamara Tarasiuk Broner, executive Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Extending Nicaragua’s mandate to the group of human rights experts for another two years will send a strong message to the Ortega government that the international community is paying attention and will not hand those in power a blank check to continue abusing them.”

On 9 February, the government released 222 political prisoners and deported them to the United States, labeling them “traitors”, stripping them of their nationality, and confiscating their property.

After his release, the government stripped of nationality Journalists, human rights defenders, writers and political leaders, and among 95 other government critics, including Roman Catholic Bishop Rolando Alvarez, who refused to leave the country and was recently sentenced to more than 20 years in prison on a range of charges . “Conspiracy to undermine national integrity.” Bishop Alvarez, who was under house arrest, was moved to a maximum security prison and remains under house arrest out of touch.

Recent legislative changes allow people to be stripped of their citizenship on arbitrary grounds run contrary to Nicaragua’s international obligations, which prohibits the deprivation of nationality as a result of nationality as a reaction to racial, ethnic, religious, or political grounds. With these measures, Nicaragua, a party to both the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, violates its obligation to take measures to ensure and prevent the enjoyment of the right of nationality. Eliminating statelessness.

Bishop Alvarez and 36 other government critics are imprisoned, according to local organizations, several has been charged Along with propagating false news in criminal proceedings undermining national integrity and based on fabricated allegations and violating basic due process rights.

Resolution It also renewed and strengthened the OHCHR’s reporting mandate on Nicaragua, which established the Group of Experts. Led by Costa Rica, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru, a proposal to renew both mandates is expected to be tabled during the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council in March.

Human Rights Watch said that renewing the mandate will allow experts to continue gathering evidence of serious, ongoing human rights violations, report on current dynamics in the country, and provide recommendations for necessary action.

Throughout 2022, the government of President Daniel Ortega arbitrarily detained people perceived to be critical of the government, including journalists, opposition leaders, human rights defenders, members of the Catholic Church, leaders of community, business and student groups, and detainees. continued to take and prosecute them. Family members.

Some detainees have been subjected to inhumane conditions, including long periods of solitary confinement with no communication for weeks or months. Former prisoners and those who have been allowed family visits have reported abusive conditions, including repeated interrogations, inadequate medical attention, and inadequate food, and have said they are often not allowed to read or write, including the Bible, in prison. Not there.

The government has also dramatically restricted civilian space. From the beginning of 2022, the authorities have revoked the legal status of over 3,200 NGOs, 47 percent of non-profit organizations present in Nicaragua prior to April 2018. Among the groups denied legal registration are dozens of humanitarian organisations, which have played a key role in ensuring access to health services, water and food. Income, mostly rural community. officials have also Canceled the legal status of 18 universities,

The Ortega government has repeatedly refused to cooperate with international human rights bodies, it has not implemented the OHCHR. recommendationsand has failed to engage with the group of experts, the OHCHR, and many united nations human rights treaty body, No international human rights monitors have been allowed to visit the country since the government expelled staff from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and OHCHR in late 2018.

It has expelled the Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua, who was demanding the release of political prisoners, the representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the European Union (EU) envoy to Nicaragua, the EU Mission to the United Nations Called for the restoration of democracy in the country in Geneva days later.

The judiciary does not operate independently in Nicaragua, and impunity for human rights violations is the norm. No police officer comes under scrutiny for misdemeanors committed during government brutality Action against 2018 protestersIn which more than 300 people were killed and 2,000 were injured and resulted in hundreds of arbitrary arrests.

“International pressure and accountability remain fundamental to Nicaragua’s transition to democracy and the Group of Experts has an important role to play toward achieving that goal,” said Tarasik Bronner.

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