Nicaragua must allow access to human rights investigators: OAS

More than 300 people have been killed since protests against President Daniel Ortega began in April, rights groups say.

    Nicaraguan authorities have been accused of using lethal force against anti-government protesters [File: Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters]
    Nicaraguan authorities have been accused of using lethal force against anti-government protesters [File: Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters]

    The Organization of American States (OAS) has denounced a "criminal cocktail" of human rights abuses allegedly perpetrated by Nicaraguan authorities during months of anti-government protests and called for its human rights body to be allowed to investigate.

    OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro slammed the Nicaraguan government and forces associated with it for actions he called "totally incompatible with democracy", saying that OAS would reject and denounce violations of human rights and democracy "as many times as necessary". 

    "We're repeating ourselves, but the truth is this is worth repeating," Almagro said during the meeting.

    "Victims' accounts should be repeated and their testimonies should be known," he said. "Human rights are being violated in Nicaragua".

    Almagro said that if the international community was not attentive and vigilant in the face of such abuses, it would be complicit.

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    The comments came during a meeting of the OAS Permanent Council on Friday to discuss the situation in Nicaragua.

    Since mid-April, at least 300 people have been killed and thousands more injured in protests. The unrest was sparked by demonstrations against proposed pension reforms, which developed into a wider anti-government movement calling for President Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo to step down. 

    Ortega has said that "thieves", "terrorists" and "coup-mongers" are responsible for the unrest.

    Nicaraguan authorities have not provided information to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) - an autonomous organ of OAS tasked with promoting and protecting human rights - since July.

    On Friday, IACHR reiterated its calls for access to the country's detention centres and files, saying on Twitter that Nicaragua's "openness to international scrutiny and timely response to all requests for information is essential".

    The meeting comes a day after OAS passed a resolution condemning the violence and calling on Ortega's government to agree to an electoral calendar.

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    In the document, approved by the Permanent Council, OAS also denounced attacks on Nicaragua's Roman Catholic clergy and university students.

    At the same meeting on Thursday, a resolution, presented by Nicaragua, setting out plans for "restoring peace" was rejected.

    Also on Thursday, Amnesty International released a report alleging that Nicaraguan authorities carried out arbitrary detentions and used torture and lethal force against anti-government protesters as part of an "intensified strategy for repression".

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News