GENEVA, Switzerland (LifeSiteNews) — The U.N.-established Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua (GHREN) declared that the country’s government has committed and continues to commit “crimes against humanity” by perpetrating acts of torture, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detention, deportation, rape, sexual violence, and suppression of political, social, and religious freedoms.
In a detailed report released March 2, the GHREN named Nicaraguan dictator President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, as perpetrators of the crimes against the Nicaraguan people. The GHREN called for international legal action and sanctions against the country and the individuals involved in committing the crimes.
Regarding the scale of the abuses and crimes, the experts have reportedly documented “over 100 cases of executions, hundreds of cases of torture and arbitrary detention, and thousands of cases of political persecution.”
Jan Simon, chair of the GHREN, said at a briefing for journalists, “The objective (of the government) is to eliminate by different means any opposing or dissenting voices in the country.”
The Nicaraguan government, Simon stated, was “weaponizing the functions of the state against the population. This has resulted in the Nicaraguan population living in fear.”
The GHREN said it has sent 12 letters to the government since commencing its investigation a year ago but has never received a response.
Last year, the U.N. Human Rights Council established the GHREN with a mandate to “conduct thorough and independent investigations into all alleged human rights violations” of Ortega’s regime since April 2018, looking into their structural root causes.
The March 2 GHREN report states that there are:
Reasonable grounds to believe that in the Republic of Nicaragua since April 2018 and up to the time of writing this report, a widespread and systematic attack has been directed against a part of the Nicaraguan population. This attack has been implemented through various prohibited or inhumane means and methods that have been developed and further expanded over time. Far from having ceased, this attack continues to be perpetuated. The GHREN also concluded that the violations, abuses, and crimes documented in this report were committed intentionally as part of this attack, and that the material and intellectual authors knew of the attack and that their acts were part of it.
Specifying the kinds of acts that under international law constitute “crimes against humanity” being perpetrated by Nicaragua’ government, the report states:
The crimes against humanity committed in Nicaragua include murder, imprisonment, torture, deportation, rape, and other forms of sexual violence of comparable gravity. The GHREN has reasonable grounds to believe that these crimes against humanity were committed in the context of a discriminatory policy, intentionally orchestrated by the highest echelons of the Government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, against part of the population of Nicaragua, for political reasons, constituting prima facie, the crime against humanity of persecution.
A March 2 press release from the U.N Council of Human Rights stated:
The report identified a pattern of extrajudicial executions carried out by agents of the National Police and members of pro-government armed groups who acted in a joint and coordinated manner during protests that took place between April 18 and September 23, 2018. The Government obstructed any investigation regarding these and other deaths.
The report also said agents of the police and the National Penitentiary System and members of pro-government armed groups committed acts of physical and psychological torture, including sexual and gender-based violence in the context of the apprehension, interrogation, and detention of opponents.
In addition, the report found that the Government has used arbitrary detention as a tool to silence critics. Many arrests were characterized by excessive use of force by the police and violence at the hands of pro-government armed groups; many people were detained without warrants and held incommunicado.
Such acts, the GHREN declared, are “crimes under international law” and “have not only resulted in the destruction of the civic and democratic space in Nicaragua, but verified in all their elements, also allow to affirm that crimes against humanity were perpetrated.”
The GHREN report comes as just last month Ortega released and then deported to the United States over 200 political prisoners, including several Catholic priests and seminarians. Bishop Rolando Álvarez Lagos of Matagalpa, one the most outspoken voices in Nicaragua against the oppression of the Ortega regime, refused to leave the country and was subsequently convicted on charges of being “a traitor to the country” for the alleged crimes of “undermining national security and sovereignty, spreading fake news through information technology.” The Catholic bishop was sentenced to 26 years in prison on February 10 and stripped of his nationality under a law and constitutional reform enacted just the day before.
John Feeley, a former U.S. ambassador and executive director of the Center for Media Integrity of the Americas who assisted in the release of Nicaragua’s political prisoners last month, praised the courage of Bishop Álvarez, saying, “Bishop Álvarez’s decision to stay behind recalls the courageous legacy of Salvadoran Archbishop [Oscar] Romero — a man of titanic faith who chooses to stay with his flock despite the very real threat of death. The man who most wanted ‘this meddlesome priest’ on that plane was Daniel Ortega, but God kept him in Nicaragua.”
The release of the prisoners and their deportation to the U.S. seems to have been a response to a heightened awareness of the systematic persecution of the Catholic Church detailed before Congress in hearings last year led by Rep. Chris Smith, who called for immediate action by both the U.S. government and the Vatican, denouncing the silence and inaction of both.
READ: US congressman urges Pope, Biden to condemn Nicaragua’s persecution of Catholics
While it appears Smith’s efforts on behalf of Catholics and citizens of Nicaragua who have fallen prey to the ire of Ortega’s communist regime have begun to bear fruit, the GHREN report confirms that the systematic persecution of Ortega’s regime against his own citizens continues unabated.
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