The government of Nicaragua’s embattled President Daniel Ortega has ordered the expulsion of a United Nations human rights team, rights groups have said.
The move on Friday came two days after the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights published a critical report blaming the government for the violent repression of opposition protests.
The UN report described repression that stretched from the streets to courtrooms, where some protesters face terrorism charges.
It demanded urgent action and criticised authorities over their heavy-handed response to anti-government protests during months of turmoil that have left hundreds of people dead, according to rights groups.
“The Nicaraguan government has expelled the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in retaliation for their damning report on the bloodbath in Nicaragua,” Jose Miguel Vivanco, the executive director for the Americas division at Human Rights Watch, tweeted in English and Spanish on Friday.
In a press conference on Friday, Vilma Nunez, president of Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), said the expulsion reflected “the spirit of someone who feels completely lost and can no longer hide his responsibilities and hide from the truth”, in a clear reference to Ortega.
Nicaragua’s turmoil was triggered on April 18 when relatively small protests against now-scrapped social security reforms were met with a government crackdown, backed by armed paramilitaries.
The UN denounced a wide range of serious violations, including disproportionate use of force by police, which in some cases resulted in extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and torture.
“The violence and impunity of these past four months have exposed the fragility of the country’s institutions and the rule of law,” UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned in a statement, describing a “climate of fear and mistrust.”
Ortega refuted the claims and described the UN as “an instrument of the policies of terror, lies and infamy.” He has rejected calls to hold early elections and resign.
The UN Security Council is expected to discuss the situation in Nicaragua in early September