In April 2018, the Ortega regime cracked
down violently on peaceful protests that began over discontent with government
actions related to social security benefits and environmental concerns. The
Nicaraguan government reportedly responded with torture and extrajudicial
killings by security forces, sniper fire and other violations and abuses by
government controlled para police and paramilitary groups. The Ortega regime
in prison imprisoned hundreds of peaceful protesters for exercising their
human rights and charged them as terrorists. These individuals have
reportedly endured abuse torture rape and life threatening prison conditions.
While Ortega released the first hundred and sixty two prisoners to house arrest
at the start of the renewed dialogue, over the weekend of March 16 to 17,
Ortega’s security forces again arrested 164 people during peaceful protests.
Further detentions occurred again on March 30th. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights currently counts 647 detainees whom it identifies as
political prisoners. To further stifle any opposition to his crackdown, Ortega
has shut down independent media and longtime civil society organizations,
arresting respected journalists and forcing many activists to flee and seek
exile abroad. Today is also the first and what I hope will become a steady
drumbeat of attention to hold Ortega accountable for his March 9th pledge to
release all prisoners arrested during and after protests within 90 days. Twenty-six days have passed since that pledge and the world is waiting.
We want to see released all prisoners currently being held because of their
peaceful participation in opposition protests, now. And we want to see
accountability for any crimes committed against those prisoners and against all
Nicaraguans over the past year: accountability for torture,
accountability for disappearances, and accountability for killings. Respect for
human rights must be restored.