A new law in Nicaragua passed Monday to inhibit candidates in elections, “openly violates the human right to political participation,” warns Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“The regime (of Daniel Ortega) presented this bill to prevent the opposition from participating in the presidential elections of 2021. It openly violates the human right to political participation and will help to consolidate the Ortega Murillo dictatorship,” said the executive director for the Americas of HRW, Jose Miguel Vivanco, on his Twitter account.
The law, approved by the Sandinista majority of the National Assembly on Monday, establishes a list of reasons for losing political rights including participating in elections. These include opposition leaders who President Ortega accuses of promoting foreign interference, terrorism, destabilization, or lobbying for sanctions against Sandinistas singled out for “corruption” and for “serious human rights violations.”
Rejection of the opposition
Ortega warned the day before that “whoever does not defend Nicaragua, whoever asks for sanctions against Nicaragua, does not deserve to be called Nicaraguan. And, well, we cannot expel them because they was born here, but (…) they already lost those rights. They lost the right to run for public office.”
The Sandinista law makes no reference to “the constitutional principle of unconditional equality of all Nicaraguan citizens” established in at least five articles of the Nicaraguan Constitution. This served as the foundation for the Supreme Court to accept Ortega’s right to reelection in 2010, previously prohibited.
Some of the main opposition organizations in Nicaragua expressed their outright rejection of the Sandinista law.
“It’s the initiative of a cornered dictatorship, of an orphan tyranny. It desperately seeks any ruse to prevent its imminent defeat in elections. It is a hoax that would lead to electorally inhibit millions of people in Nicaragua who have asked for targeted sanctions for those who committed crimes against humanity,” said Felix Maradiaga, a leader of the Blue and White National Unity.
The Civic Alliance declared they were surprised by the bill. They said it seeks to “finish crushing all civic rights and the remains of the rule of law they have been demolishing.”
“In the next elections Ortega wants to be the only candidate or wants to compete with mute candidates. It is something very serious. It is a brutal blow against freedoms in Nicaragua,” said Jose Davila, a representative of the Civic Alliance.
Four crucial laws
Maradiaga sent a message of disobedience to Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.
“Ortega, Chayo (Murillo), what is the fear of free elections? You, in addition to being murderers, are also cowards. But I tell you that we are not afraid of you. Unjust laws are not laws and we are not going to obey them,” he stressed.
This is the fourth recent repressive law passed at Ortega’s request. Opponents note that these “openly” violate human rights, in the middle of a so-called “election year,” which will culminate with the elections in November 2021.
The first was the Law to Regulate Foreign Agents, which punishes anyone who receives money from abroad, if they do not report their income and expenses to the authorities, barring exceptions. It is dubbed the “Putin Law.”
The second, which will come into force on December 27, is the Cybercrimes Law, known as the “Gag Law.” It sanctions any person who possess or shares information that the Government considers a threat.
The third is the establishment of life imprisonment, which was already approved in the first legislature, in a process expected to conclude in January.
Ortega seeks another reelection in the 2021 vote considered crucial for Nicaragua. By then he will have completed 15 consecutive years in office and 42 of political control of the country.