Attorney Claudia Paz y Paz, member of the expert group created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for representation in Nicaragua in 2018, reports told the EFE news agency that the international community must keep an eye on Nicaragua and intervene considering the crimes committed.
“It is fundamental that the international community does not take its eyes from Nicaragua”, since, “when you have crimes against humanity, (we) must intervene so that this situation is modified”, explained the Guatemalan lawyer, one of the four members of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI).
Paz y Paz intervened on Tuesday in a panel to explain the results of the report – together with another member of the group of experts, the Argentine prosecutor Pablo Parenti – in one of the sessions of the current Human Rights Council that in Geneva deals with the situation of fundamental freedoms throughout the world.
“We managed to document in the period comprising our mandate, from April 18 to May 30, there were 109 violent deaths, with most people killed from firearms, and more than 1,400 injured,” the lawyer recalled. [The figure of those killed later reached at least 327, according to the IACHR and other human rights groups].
Although the deaths of some twenty police officers were also documented, the vast majority of the violence was “the responsibility of the State security forces, which were activated in a coordinated manner with paramilitary groups composed of young Sandinistas, or what has been called In Nicaragua, the motorizados,” Paz y Paz told EFE.
Investigate Daniel Ortega
The group of investigators, also composed by the Italian lawyer Amerigo Incalcaterra and the Peruvian sociologist Sofía Macher, recommended following the preparation of their extensive report, to investigate the country’s president, Daniel Ortega, for his direct responsibility in the acts committed by the security forces.
The report, elaborated by a group of experts who spent six months in Nicaragua, was carried out with great difficulties in accessing information, dispite the Government of Ortega having agreed to cooperate.
“They did not give us access to the judicial files, nor could we meet alone with the attorney general,” Ana Julia Guido. When we asked the Nicaraguan government for a meeting so that we could present the conclusions, “their response was to ask us to leave the country,” The lawyer recalled.
The expert also stressed that the same month that the report was presented in Washington (December 2018), the legal status was revoked of a Nicaraguan NGO that collaborated closely with them, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), forcing some of its members to leave the country.
The Official Line
The group of experts arrived in Nicaragua in July, when tensions were at their peak, said Parenti.
“A police chief can have a subordinate act badly, what cannot happen, is that this has occurred in a sustained manner in time, at any place and time, and nothing has been investigated (…). Moreover, the main people responsible for the acts committed by the authorities in this period were promoted,” he said.
The Argentine prosecutor also stressed that “the public discourse of the president and the vice president (Rosario Murillo, wife of Ortega) was from day one to demonize and stigmatize the demonstrators in their really violent speeches”, despite the fact that the group of experts stated that most of the protests were peaceful.
The protests began on April 18, 2018, over reforms in the social security system raising worker and employer contributions and reducing pensions.
According to national and international human rights organizations, the repression of these protests has caused well over 300 deaths (the report of the GIEI, which documents the first 109, only covered the first 45-days of violence) and the large-scale detention of journalists, campesinos, students and members of human rights organizations.