By Fatih Erel
ANKARA (AA) – The United Nations on Wednesday called for urgent action and accountability to address the human rights crisis in Nicaragua.
"Urgent action is needed to address the human rights crisis in Nicaragua, where the level of persecution is such that many of those who participated in the protests […], defended protesters’ rights or simply expressed dissenting views, have been forced to hide[…]," said a report by the UN Human Rights Office.
Anti-government protests have been going on since mid-April in Nicaragua, with the opposition calling on President Daniel Ortega and his wife and vice-president to step down and schedule early elections.
The UN report, which covers the period from April 18 to Aug. 18, documented violations of the disproportionate use of force by police, sometimes resulting in extrajudicial killings; enforced disappearances; widespread arbitrary detentions; torture and ill-treatment; and violations of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and of peaceful assembly.
"Repression and retaliation against demonstrators continue in Nicaragua as the world looks away. The violence and impunity of these past four months have exposed the fragility of the country’s institutions and the rule of law, and created a climate of fear and mistrust," the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement on Wednesday.
"I urge the UN Human Rights Council, and the broader international community, to take concrete action to prevent the current crisis from descending into deeper social and political turmoil." he added.
According to the report, some 300 people have been killed and 2,000 others injured during the human rights crisis. Most of this violence took place from mid-April to mid-July. It said 22 police officers were also killed since mid-April.
"As of 18 August, at least 300 people were being prosecuted, including on charges of terrorism and organized crime, for having participated in or supported the protests. These trials have serious flaws and do not observe due process, including the impartiality of the courts," the report said.
The report urged Nicaragua to immediately end such harassment, intimidation and criminalization.