GENEVA - U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has issued a blistering report on Nicaragua's deteriorating human rights situation, which she said was spurring unprecedented numbers of people to flee to other countries. She presented her report last Thursday to the U.N. Human Rights Council, where it remains under review.
In her oral update, Bachelet warned that peoples' right to freedom of expression and movement was under grave threat in Nicaragua. She said hundreds of civil society organizations have been stripped of their legal status.
FILE - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet addresses the press on the opening day of the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva on June 13, 2022.
She said new criminal legislation was being used to persecute perceived opponents of the government of President Daniel Ortega. She said repressive measures, such as confiscation of political opponents' assets have been instituted, apparently to silence critics.
Citing civil society sources, Bachelet said 173 people have been arbitrarily arrested in connection with the political and human rights crisis that erupted in 2018. She said another 50 have been detained in the context of the 2021 presidential elections. She said detainees are being held in conditions that contravene U.N. standards on treatment of prisoners.
"Relatives reported that their dear loved ones are held in inhuman conditions. Many of them need urgent permanent or specialized medical attention and they are denied this,' she said. 'I would like to renew my request to the competent authorities to ensure the immediate release of persons who are arbitrarily detained and guarantee their physical and psychological integrity."
Bachelet warned the socio-political, economic, and human rights crisis in Nicaragua is driving thousands of people from their homes. Speaking through an interpreter, she said Nicaraguans are leaving the country in unprecedented numbers.
FILE - Migrants, mostly from Nicaragua, cross the Rio Grande river into the U.S., at Eagle Pass, Texas, May 20, 2022.
"In the last eight months, the number of refugees and asylum seekers from Nicaragua in Costa Rica has been multiplying by two and now reaches 150,000. This represents 3% of the Costa Rican population. The number of Nicaraguans who have been intercepted on the border with the U.S. is dramatically rising," she said.
Nicaragua's prosecutor-general, Wendy Morales, denounced the report, accusing Bachelet of acting unjustly and unfairly. She said the information presented was based on lies and fake news and did not represent the reality of life in Nicaragua.