Tag Archives: Nicaragua

Report on Criminalization of Human Rights Advocates in Nicaragua


An investigation by the Center for Justice and International Law, and the Meso-American Initiative for Women Human Rights Defenders exposes the Ortega-Murillo regime’s use of criminalization as a systematic tool for control.

Criminalizing human rights advocacy and political dissidence “has been one of the principal instruments of control” used by the Nicaraguan regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, during their sharp pivot towards totalitarianism in recent years. That’s the warning from the Center for Justice and International Law (Cejil) and the Meso-American Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders (IM-Defensoras).

The two organizations collaborated on an investigation and subsequent report entitled: “Persecuted for defending and resisting: the criminalization of women human rights defenders in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Mexico.” According to the final document presented in San Jose, Costa Rica, the investigation concluded that criminalization has be used “in a recurrent way” by the regime.

“Since before 2018, criminalization had already been used repeatedly by the government of Daniel Ortega to persecute feminists, after they supported the [1998] denunciation for rape that Zoilaamerica Narvaez – daughter of Ortega’s current wife and vice president Rosario Murillo – filed against [Ortega]; and again, when they opposed the extreme penalization of abortion that Ortega instituted as part of a [2006-7] pact with the Catholic Church hierarchy,” the document asserts.

Another case of criminalization employed by the regime and documented in this research report was aimed against Francisca Ramirez, a farm leader, and all the rural people who raised their voices in opposition to an Inter-Oceanic Canal megaproject that Ortega was promoting. The project, which subsequently never got off the ground, threatened the land and livelihoods of many farm communities in the south of Nicaragua.

A violent process

The investigation emphasizes that the criminalization in Nicaragua “goes beyond just [bogus] legal processes” and is manifested in “a multiplicity of violent actions,” such as accusations, smear campaigns, harassment, canceling organizations’ permission to operate, civil death, emigration restrictions or banishment, among others. These acts have all had serious repercussions on the lives and struggles of the advocates and their families.

The human rights defenders who serve as lawyers for the political prisoners, “affirm that as part of the criminalization processes [against them], they also face the retention or canceling of their trial lawyers’ licenses, or the threat of such action, both of which generate great concern and frustration,” the document states. Both the attorneys and the prisoners’ families have indicated that they’re subjected to extreme searches and controls during any entrances and exits to the country’s penitentiaries.

“The strategies employed by the Government vary and intensify as they adopt ever more violent and authoritarian postures. In addition, they increase according to the degree to which the advocates persist in their defense of human rights, going from actions such as police sieges or police taking their pictures to investigations that ease the way for them to later prosecute the advocates under criminal law,” the report highlights.





Nicaragua: Yonarqui Martínez fears arrest due to “apparent error” of the Courts


The lawyer Yonarqui Martínez, recognized for defending prisoners of conscience, denounced that last week, in an “apparent error”, the Managua Court Notifications Office delivered a summons for her at the house of a political prisoner and not at his home. Situation that exposes her to being arrested.

Martínez had to appear, on June 2, at the Managua Courts to participate as an expert in a case in which she is not the accused. However, according to the notification —that she did not arrive at her home— an arrest warrant would be issued against her if she did not appear.

“They took the notification to a place that is not my address. Today (Monday) that I joined my work, a third person tells me that I have problems because I did not arrive to an appointment that I had on June 2, I began to investigate and I found out that the notifier visited two relatives of political prisoners; one who, as he is already released, refused to receive it and another who received the notification thinking that it was for the relative of his political prisoner, ”Martinez explained.

In interview with CONFIDENTIALthe lawyer advocated for “more transparency and efficiency on the part of the Managua Court Notification Office.”

“If the notification never reached me, I do not have to appear. There must be greater transparency and efficiency by the Notifications Office of the Managua Courts in terms of making notifications, so I advocate that they act as they should and annul that procedure, if there is one, and not give any process or an arrest warrant against me, because I was not notified”, remarked the human rights defender.


In recent years, Martínez has been the victim of reprisals from the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo for legally representing political prisoners. The defender has been harassed in her home; she has suffered traffic tickets that she has described as unjustified; and she has been beaten and harassed by police and people related to the ruling party.



Torture and criminalisation of protest in Cuba


The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) will examine the situation in Cuba in relation to the measures adopted to prevent, investigate, punish and fully compensate victims of torture during its 73rd session, on 20, 21 and 22 April, 2022.

This report was prepared by a coalition of independent civil society organisations and human rights defenders in Cuba, with the support of international human rights organisations. The objective of this report is to put the spotlight on the situation of human rights on the island, based on the obligations assumed by the Cuban State by ratifying the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Treatment or Punishment.

The review by the CAT is one of the few carried out by UN treaty bodies on the island, since Cuba has ratified neither the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights nor the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

This report highlights the lack of legal safeguards for detainees and violations of due process; the lack of independence of lawyers and justice operators; the lack of measures to prevent, eradicate and punish violence against women; the constant harassment, persecution and criminalisation of human rights defenders and journalists; the closure of democratic spaces for civil society organisations; the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment suffered by people deprived of liberty in detention centres; the arbitrary arrests, torture and cruel treatment of journalists and protesters in the context of the defence of human rights and social protest in the country.




https://www.omct.org/es/recursos/reportes/tortura-y-criminalizaci%C3%B3n-de-la-protesta-en-cuba (ESPANOL)

Nicaragua: What Lies Ahead for Ortega’s Political Prisoners?


The political prisoners will be at the center of public debate in the coming months, along with the resulting sanctions.

During 2021, part of the Ortega-Murillo regime’s strategy for maintaining power was to imprison the opposition’s presidential hopefuls, along with other prominent figures from the opposing side. Put simply, we could say their strategy served them well: they survived the election. Today, though, it’s an unsustainable strategy, given the legal and political consequences it’s incurring.

One year ago, public interest was centered on the electoral process, while the demands for justice for the Ortega-Murillo regime’s grave human rights violations was relegated to second place. There was practically no discussion of the fate of the hundred or so political prisoners that the regime still held. Beginning in May, the detentions of the aspiring presidential candidates recalled the fact that there were more political prisoners. From that time on, the topic rose to new prominence on the national and international public agenda.

The regime is now on the eve of inaugurating a new, illegitimate, mandate. Unfortunately, the reaction of the international community with respect to the electoral farce hasn’t served as a determinant strong enough to put the regime in a vulnerable position and produce its fall, although it’s definitely contributed to their isolation. Hence, the public agenda isn’t dominated by the consequences of the sanctions from the international community; instead, its attention is centered on the political prisoners.

In the last few days, information has come out about the chronic ailments of octogenarian political prisoner Edgar Parrales. In addition, there are denunciations of the isolation inflicted on Ana Margarita Vijil; Felix Maradiaga’s weight loss; the health situation of attorney Maria Oviedo; the uncertainty over the whereabouts of Hugo Torres; the leg cramps being suffered by student leader Lesther Aleman; and lawyer Roger Reyes’ loss of cognitive and memory functions, among many others. These have captured the interest of national and international news.



https://100noticias.com.ni/nacionales/112356-presa-politica-maria-oviedo-irreconocible/ (ESPANOL)




Nicaraguense (@librepensadorni) / Twitter
Movimiento Cívico Guardabarranco's tweet - "🔴 La abogada y miembro de la  Comisión Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Nicaragua -CPDH, María Oviedo  Delgado ha sido secuestrada la tarde de hoy en el

Nicaragua: Lawyer who denounced that his sister raped by Daniel Ortega when she was 15 found dead in prison


Nicaraguan political prisoner Santos Sebastián Flores Castillo was found dead in the prison where he had been held since 2013

The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) reported this Wednesday that the lawyer Santos Sebastián Flores Castillo, imprisoned since June 2013 after accuse President Daniel Ortega of having raped his sister Elvia Junieth Flores Castillo when he was 15 years old, was found dead in La Modelo prison in Tipitapa.

Cenidh demanded that the Ministry of the Interior and the Nicaraguan prison system carry out “an exhaustive investigation that reports the causes of death” of Flores in prison on Monday morning at the age of 52. “From Cenidh we have always been accompanying the family of Santos Sebastián; and denouncing the acts of physical and psychological torture that made him suffer during all these years of unjust confinement “, says the agency’s statement.

The relatives of Santos Sebastián Flores Castillo assure that it was imprisoned “unjustly” for having defended his sister, who also became pregnant due to the rape, according to the complaint. The lawyer was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2013, accused of aggravated rape by Lucila Narcisa Cortez García, who was a public defender of the Judiciary and a friend of Sandinista judge Gertrudis Gaitán. He was considered one of the first political prisoners of the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.

“I am unjustly imprisoned because Daniel Ortega Saavedra hates me to death,” said Santos Flores Castillo in a letter written in prison

Flores Castillo had sent a letter to Cenidh where he related details of the torture he suffered in prison and described as “revenge” for having denounced President Ortega, then in his second term. “Daniel Ortega hates me to death because I did not agree with the couple’s relationship when he made my sister Elvia Junieth his wife, when she was 15 years old”said the letter written by the detainee.




https://www.infobae.com/america/america-latina/2021/11/11/nicaragua-fue-hallado-muerto-en-prision-el-abogado-que-denuncio-que-su-hermana-fue-violada-por-daniel-ortega-cuando-tenia-15-anos/ (ESPANOL)



Nicaragua: Nicaraguan lawyer José Arnulfo López Cruz is forced into exile to avoid arrest for his legal defence of political prisoners


José Arnulfo López Cruz

The high-risk situation suffered by Nicaraguan lawyer José Arnulfo López Cruz has forced him to take refuge in Spain with his family, to avoid arrest for his work as a lawyer defending political prisoners in Nicaragua.

José Arnulfo López Cruz is a lawyer and human rights defender. He belongs to the organisation Unidad de Defensa Jurídica (UDJ), which specialises in the legal defence of political prisoners in the socio-political context of Nicaragua. José Arnulfo resigned from his position as a prosecutor in the Public Prosecutor’s Office and, from 2018 until today, has dedicated himself to the practice of law as a defender of political prisoners.

The Nicaraguan lawyer has worked for the Nicaraguan Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH) and has defended high-profile cases during his career, which has [1]led to his continued harassment by police and vigilante groups.

These persistent attacks have included threats by paramilitaries during court appearances in the cases he has defended, as well as continuous police surveillance and monitoring of his workplace and home. The risk to the lawyer extends to his family members, who are also victims of this repression. In this regard, in May 2021, lawyer José Arnulfo was arbitrarily detained with his son by police officers who beat him and illegally stole their documents and money.

This harassment has become more frequent since the Nicaraguan lawyer took over the defence of pre-presidential candidate Félix Alejandro Maradiaga, who was arrested on 9 June 2021[2] . This has also affected the work of his wife, Arlen Cristina Muñoz, who was detained and questioned in defence of Félix Maradiaga by police officers on 18 June 2021.

The situation of José Arnulfo and his family became untenable after he received a call warning of his imminent arrest, which precipitated his departure from the country on 3 October 2021 and his exile to Spain, where he will seek political asylum.





Threats Silence Nicaraguan Defense Attorney Yonarqui Martinez


The well-known lawyer declares she’ll continue the work she’s been doing as defense lawyer for over 40 unjustly imprisoned government opponents.

In the face of constant threats of arrest, Attorney Yonarqui Martinez has publicly announced she will no longer talk about political issues. Martinez has made a name for herself defending a large number of political prisoners, among them TicToc star Kevin Monzon.

The attorney has manifested that she’ll continue with the work she’s been doing up to now, defending over 40 political prisoners.

“My work has always focused on the defense of human rights. I’ve never focused on trying to discredit anyone – not in my social networks, nor in my private WhatsApp communications. My posts have always revolved around the liberation of the political prisoners and the violations of human rights,” the attorney told the online Nicaraguan news site 100% Noticias.

She noted that the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo have approved a combo of repressive laws that endanger the freedom of Nicaraguan citizens.

“Since the Cybercrimes Law was passed, we’ve also had Law 1060 (amending Nicaragua’s Criminal Processing Code) and Law 1055 (“Law for the Defense of the People’s Right to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-Determination for Peace”). Although I try to denounce the human rights violations that undeniably are occurring, in a given moment those [laws] could be used against me, and I could face legal charges,” the expert affirmed.

The attorney lamented the detention of her colleagues: Maria Oviedo, Jose Pallais and Roger Reyes, the latter a defense lawyer for incarcerated presidential hopeful Felix Maradiaga.

“This has led me to make the decision not to share with, or contact, people who post things that could compromise me. I ask them not to call me, because I need to continue my work. I continue giving legal counsel; I’m responsible for the court processes of those deprived of liberty who are political prisoners. I don’t want to be jailed myself,” she added.

“Don’t tag me”

As a way to avoid the regime’s retaliation, Yonarqui Martinez also asked her friends and the general public to abstain from tagging her in any posts that could compromise her freedom.

“I’ve tried to tell my friends and Facebook followers that if they post something regarding what we’re going through, not to tag me. Obviously, that can damage me in some way, and I want to continue working,” she reiterated.

Martinez, who is the chief defense lawyer for some of the political prisoners, stated that she “constantly” receives death threats and threats of being locked up.

Yonarqui Martinez is a daughter, plus mother and guardian of her 4 children.

https://100noticias.com.ni/nacionales/110500-yonarqui-martinez-amenazas-ciber-delitos-nicaragua/ (ESPANOL)

Nicaragua: Ortega’s Police Arrest Defense Attorney Maria Oviedo


There are now 31 new political prisoners since the end of May and over 140 total.

The Police of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo arrested lawyer Maria Oviedo, coordinator of the special legal team of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH), on Thursday July 29th in Leon, confirmed that human rights organization.

The president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), Vilma Nunez, said that Oviedo was at her mother’s house when two police vehicles and around thirty policemen arrived to arrest her. She was then taken from Leon to the infamous New El Chipote Police Complex, in Managua.

At first, the reasons for the arrest were unknown. “They took her out of her mother’s house, where she was brushing her teeth. They did not let her take anything with her. They just took her away (…),” assured Nunez.

Later it became known that Oviedo was arrested for the catch-all treason Law 1055, used to imprison opposition leaders, politicians and activists.

The capture occurs in a context of worsening governmental repression against opponents, which has left dozens of new political prisoners, and greater risk for their defense lawyers, who have denounced, under anonymity, being victims of harassment, threats and criminalization of their profession. With Oviedo, there are 31 Nicaraguans, including seven presidential candidates arrested in the latest wave of repression.

Oviedo participated last Sunday in the online Esta Semana program to analyze the violations of the rights of recent political prisoners, some with more than 60 days incommunicado from their relatives and lawyers.

The lawyer questioned the reform of the Criminal Procedure Code, which states that a person can be detained for up to 90 days for the purpose of “investigation,” which she considered unconstitutional and totally in violation of human rights, she said on that occasion.







CADAL on Twitter: "Policía de #Nicaragua detuvo a la abogada defensora de  #DerechosHumanos María Oviedo y la trasladó a la Dirección de Auxilio  Judicial El Chipote, ubicada en Managua. Pedimos se respeten

Nicaragua: The Dangerous Job of Defending Ortega’s Political Prisoners


Five of the political prisoners’ defense attorneys have fled the country, following an uptick in threats against them. They share fears of being accused of fabricated crimes.

“Carlos”, a Nicaraguan attorney, spent two weeks accompanying six journalists who were summoned to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for interrogation. This was in June, within the context of an investigation into alleged money laundering by the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation.

As he attended these clients, his house began to be watched by a motorcyclist in civilian dress; later, a pick-up truck began coming around at night. His telephone rang with calls from unknown numbers – calls he didn’t answer, because he was sure he’d hear threats.

“I was walking out to a neighborhood store, and that motorcyclist followed me,” he says. In order to safeguard his family, he moved to another house, but he felt “it wasn’t enough”. The defense lawyer decided to go into exile.

“Carlos” is one of five Nicaraguan lawyers who recently fled the country. The wave of repression unleashed against members of the opposition reached him too. Like his clients, he faced growing persecution and threats, plus the ever-present risk of jail.

The lawyer, who’s using an assumed name for security reasons, wasn’t in charge of defending any of the latest 26 political prisoners. His role was limited to accompanying the journalists who’d been cited by the Prosecution, and offering them legal counsel.

Lawyers who spoke with Confidencial agreed that risks have multiplied for those who defend political cases in Nicaragua. In 2018 and 2019, there were some attorneys who went into exile after receiving general threats. However, the threats in this last period have been specific, with a more aggressive tone, one of the lawyers confided.

Another of the defenders, who also asked to remain anonymous, affirmed that attorneys face surveillance, harassment, and threats, with the risk of a criminal investigation always hanging over their heads.

“All of these – the persecution, siege and investigations – put the attorney in a vulnerable situation, at a disadvantage, and in danger for exercising their profession,” stated the lawyer, who had been in charge of political cases.

“There are no guarantees of respect for the right of the accused to a defense, nor are there any professional or personal guarantees,” he added.



Nicaragua: Jailed Opposition Leaders Denied Legal Representation


Lawyers chosen by relatives of those in jail are “annulled” by the courts and are now being threatened and told to abandon these cases.

The 21 hostages imprisoned by the Ortega-Murillo government over the last few weeks have been stripped of their Constitutional protections, as well as their freedom. Since being imprisoned, their rights and guarantees are ignored, and the police won’t allow them to meet with their lawyers and relatives.

In addition, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has demanded 90 days of detention, supposedly for purposes of conducting an investigation. The Court rejected all the legal appeals that were filed and has assigned them public defenders. All of this leaves the victims completely defenseless.

The lack of guarantees and the due process violations “have been generalized” over the last three years, states Attorney Gonzalo Carrion of the Nicaragua Nunca+ [Never again] Human Rights Collective. But it’s more notorious now, because it’s happening in 100% of the cases.

The lawyers chosen by the prisoners’ relatives “were annulled” by the Court “only one, as an exception, had a very short interview with their client. That’s not a defense,” Carrion emphasized.


Lawyers receive threats

Even though the efforts of the detainees’ lawyers have been fruitless, in the last few weeks they’ve begun receiving threats via their cellphones. This has caused some to abandon these cases, while others have stopped offering declarations to the media. This situation was denounced by relatives of the detained.

A source close to Jose Adan Aguerri explained that the lawyer in charge of his case told them he’d decided to drop it, “due to threats I’ve had”.  “We spent two days without a lawyer,” the source stated. During that time, the family had to knock on a number of doors to obtain a defense attorney for their relative. Aguerri is the former president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep).

Ana Lucia Alvarez, who is Ana Margarita Vijil’s niece, and Tamara Davila’s sister, confirmed that finding a legal defense for the imprisoned opposition members has been, “a completely complex matter in itself”. In addition to the lawyers not being allowed to meet with their clients, they’re “being targeted.”

The threats to the attorneys coincide with the broadcast of an official program where the announcer read off a list of lawyers that defend political prisoners. He then declared that they’re “paid by Cosep”, an organization he classified as a “foreign agent”.

















https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2021/06/22/nicaragua-repression-contre-les-opposants-lapproche-de-lelection-presidentielle (FRANCAIS)


https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-57606688 (PORTUGUES)