In ultimatum to Nicaragua, UN publishes confidential report on torture


The refusal of the regime of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua to collaborate with independent UN bodies that work to prevent the practice of torture led specialists from the organization to release a hitherto confidential report that describes systematic mistreatment committed against detainees in the country.

The Committee against Torture (CAT) and the Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture (SPT) released this Tuesday (29) a joint statement in which they criticize Managua’s stance of not releasing information or working together with the organs .

According to the committees, this is the first time that such an action has been taken jointly. Nicaragua has ratified the two conventions that give rise to the bodies — the Convention against Torture and Other Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, which has 173 signatory states, and the Protocol against Torture, with 91 members.

But over the past decade, the Central American country has refuted the recommendations provided by United Nations experts. One of the most recent episodes occurred in July, when one of the agencies asked Nicaragua to investigate allegations of torture by public officials against government opponents.

The response from the Ortega regime, which was re-elected last November in a closed election, came in a letter in which it accused the UN of making vile attacks on the state and giving voice to imperialist rhetoric.

In this Tuesday’s statement, the president of the CAT, Mexican Claude Heller, says that the public alert is made to reflect the seriousness of the situation and the need for a response to prevent torture.

The report released as a way of alerting the international community and putting pressure on Managua dates back to 2014. It is unusual for material of this type, classified, to be made public, but there is a clause in the Protocol Against Torture that allows committees to release reports as a last resort, when the country in question closes doors to dialogue.

In the 23-page material, the SPT claims to have collected reports of torture suffered by detainees in all the prison institutions visited. The detainees would have stated, in common, that the aggressions include punches, blows with truncheons and strangulation.

One of the prisoners at the time reported having suffered sexual abuse when he was transferred to another saddle by order of a guard who wanted, in his words, to punish him. The material claims to have reports of trans people being subjected to vexatious practices at the time of arrest.

The specialists who carried out the visit allegedly saw scars on the bodies of some prisoners compatible with the reported attacks. In some cases, an iron bar would have been wrapped in tape or cloth so that fingerprints would not remain on the victim’s body.

Prisoners also reported having difficulty communicating with their families and receiving medical care. Reports also proliferated that detainees were not brought to a sentencing hearing within 48 hours, as required by the local Penal Code.

Already this Wednesday (30), the Inter-American Court of Human Rights declared Nicaragua a State “in permanent contempt” for not releasing the 46 opponents of the regime arrested during the last electoral process. Among them are former presidential candidates Cristiana Chamorro, Félix Maradiaga and Juan Sebastián Chamorro.

Most of the opponents and critics arrested last year received sentences of up to 13 years in prison. Ortega has been in power since 2007. Before taking office, he participated in the first junta that governed Nicaragua after the fall of the Somoza dictatorship in 1979.

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