Human Rights Watch on Tuesday urged the UN and member countries to pressure Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to stop alleged human rights abuses, including a crackdown on opposition figures ahead of the presidential election in November.
According to the report, the period leading up to November’s elections has seen Ortega launch a campaign of arbitrary detention and harassment of government critics, including human rights defenders, journalists, and members of the political opposition.
The report lists multiple cases of arbitrary detention and targeted harassment that have taken place after a brutal crackdown on protestors by Nicaragua’s National Police and armed pro-government groups in 2018, which left more than 300 people dead and 2,000 injured.
The report recommends that the US, Canada, the EU and its member states, and Latin American governments impose targeted sanctions on senior government officials who bear responsibility for the human rights violations that the report highlights, including travel bans and asset freezes.
Lawmaker Gustavo Eduardo Porras Cortes is one of the officials named in the report. It was under Porras’ leadership that the Law for the Defense of People’s Rights to Independence, Sovereignty, and Self Determination for Peace was enacted last year, which gives the government power to unilaterally declare citizens ‘terrorists’ and to ban them from running as political candidates.
The report also recommends that members of the UN Human Rights Council call on the Nicaraguan government to comply, and monitor the extent of its compliance, with the Council’s resolution A/HRC/46/L.8, which urges the government to “repeal or amend legislation that may unduly restrict the rights to the freedoms of expression and association, to privacy and to take part in the conduct of public affairs.”