Former Chilean President and current United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet Tuesday called for the release of Nicaraguan opposition politicians who have been placed under arrest by the Daniel Ortega regime over the past three weeks.
During Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Bachelet also asked the Government of Nicaragua to cease the persecution of all critical voices, as the November presidential elections loom over.
In recent weeks, Nicaraguan police have arrested more than a dozen opponents, including five presidential hopefuls and also former Sandinista allies of Ortega's.
I call on the Nicaraguan government to make an urgent change in the course of action it is adopting in the face of the electoral process, Bachelet said in a speech before the UN Human Rights Council, during a session to discuss the situation in the Central American country.
She also urged Ortega to restore the rights and freedoms that make possible a free, credible and equitable electoral process; and repeal the restrictive legislation of the civic and democratic space.” Bachelet denounced that the recent arrests of opponents were made under ambiguous criminal concepts, without sufficient probative evidence and marked by serious violations of procedural guarantees, it was reported.
Bachelet stressed that the crisis in Nicaragua has worsened alarmingly and the arrests have generated a climate of terror that inhibits the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression (...) essential to guarantee a credible, free and equitable electoral process.”
Bachelet also pointed out that eight other politicians (including five women) and two union leaders had also been arrested. In addition, she questioned the reform to the electoral law passed by the Nicaraguan authorities on May 4. It does not introduce safeguards to guarantee the impartiality and independence of the electoral authorities, she emphasized.
Since the second half of April and around the third anniversary of the start of the 2018 protests, there has been an escalation of selective persecution against human rights defenders, journalists and opponents, Bachelet underlined.
“We continue to document cases of arbitrary detentions by the national police, and this points to the systematic repression and the attempts of victims and civil society to try to protest in public spaces,” she added.