Image: Police detain protesters during a demonstration against the government of President Daniel Ortega in Managua, Nicaragua, on March 16, 2019. © 2019 AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga
(Brussels, July 2, 2019) – The European Union should increase pressure on the Nicaraguan government to curb human rights violations by police and other officials in the wake of anti-government protests, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and foreign ministers. The EU should impose targeted sanctions against high-level Nicaraguan officials implicated in gross human rights violations and condition financial support to Nicaragua’s National Police.
The crackdown on anti-government protests by Nicaragua’s National Police and armed pro-government groups that began in April 2018 led to more than 300 deaths and 2,000 people injured. A Human Rights Watch report released on June 19, 2019, documented egregious abuse that in some cases amounted to torture of many of the hundreds of people arrested by police or abducted by armed pro-government groups
“President Daniel Ortega will not voluntarily reestablish the basic human rights guarantees that his government worked so hard to dismantle,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Intense and persistent international pressure, including through targeted sanctions against senior officials implicated in gross human rights violations, is key to ending the widespread abuses.”
Human Rights Watch found that prosecutions of people arrested during the crackdown were marred by serious violations of due process and other fundamental rights. The government has also retaliated against independent journalists, nongovernmental organizations, and international human rights monitors.