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Ortega’s Lists and Tools to Prohibit the Return of Nicaraguans

Lists are periodically updated by the Ministry of the Interior and banishments are increasing, confirm UN experts

Redacción Confidencial

8 de marzo 2024


Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo have prevented at least 145 Nicaraguans from returning to Nicaragua in the last four years, “as another tool to perpetuate a spiral of silence,” says the UN Human Rights Experts Group on the Central American country, which also describes how these “de facto banishments” work.

Between 2021 and 2024, the group counted that entry to Nicaragua was prohibited for 66 women and 79 men, including 15 children.

The report, presented in Costa Rica, points out that they have been able to determine the modus operandi of the authorities when it comes to banning the entry of nationals by air or land.

Airlines and bus companies send passenger lists to the Directorate of Migration and Foreigners in advance, with the intention of entering Nicaragua.

Lists and Internet and social media searches

Immigration authorities use these lists to compare names with another updated list they receive periodically from the Interior Ministry, about cases where there might be an alert, to order a person’s banishment.

Immigration officials complement the information received from the Ministry of the Interior with searches for information about the individuals mentioned on the internet and social media, and any data, social media post, or link considered “suspicious” is enough to create a file about the traveling person and consider them unfit to enter the country.

In these cases, in the days before the return trip, the airline or bus company contacts the person through a WhatsApp message, email, or phone call and informs them that they are prohibited from entering Nicaragua, without providing further explanation, but informing them to contact Nicaraguan authorities, who then ignore the messages.

Nicaraguan banishment on the rise since 2023

“This pattern has intensified during 2022 and 2023, particularly after the mass expulsion of (222) people in February 2023 and has been used both against people who resided in Nicaragua and had left the country for personal or work-related reasons with the intention of returning, as well as people who resided outside of Nicaragua, but maintained a special relationship with the country,” he explained.

According to the report, in 2021 there were three cases of entry denial to the country or de facto banishment: two men and one woman; and in 2022 there were 19 cases (7 women and 12 men).

In 2023, the number of documented cases increased by more than 500%, reaching 110 people (48 women, 62 men, of whom 15 are children), it warned.

In 2024, up to the publication date of the report, 12 Nicaraguans (9 women and 3 men) have been prohibited from entering their country.

Victims are journalists, priests, academics, lawyers…

The Nicaraguan victims of these banishments “were mostly journalists, priests, academics, lawyers, human rights defenders, and relatives of victims and of the 317 people arbitrarily deprived of their nationality,” emphasized the Group of Experts.

The identified cases show, without exception, that the profile of the victims is of individuals opposed to the Government or perceived as such as well as their relatives, he added.

These people have been unable to return to Nicaragua from Argentina, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Spain, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Panama, among others.

“De facto stateless”

The group warned that the decision to prohibit entry to their own country violates the right not to suffer arbitrary or illegal interference in family life, the right to freedom of movement, and the right to choose one’s residence, enshrined in article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and article 31 of the Nicaraguan Constitution.

Therefore, the report indicates, the victims may be considered “de facto stateless” when facing a situation similar to that of a stateless person, in accordance with the provisions of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.

263 Nicaraguans exiled

The dictatorship has also expelled 263 Nicaraguans and 21 foreigners without due legal process since 2022, denounced the Group of Experts.

“These people were taken to the border or expelled by air directly by the Nicaraguan authorities,” he said.

In addition to the expulsion of the 222 people released in February 2023, the Group of Experts has identified 6 cases of expulsion between March 2023 and February 2024, which affected 40 Nicaraguans (3 women, 34 men, and 3 children).

“In one case it was a complete family; in two others it was collective expulsions of members of the Catholic Church,” he detailed.

It also includes the 19 members of the Catholic Church, including bishops Rolando Alvarez and Isidoro Mora, who were released and expelled to the Vatican on January 13, 2024.

Both in cases of collective expulsions and individual ones, the victims were forced to board a plane to another country or cross the land border, according to the report, which ensures that in no case were the victims able to lodge appeals against their expulsion.

At least 21 foreigners have been expelled

Likewise, the Group of Experts has documented 21 cases of arbitrary expulsions of foreigners with legal residence in Nicaragua, including journalists, cooperation personnel, priests, and members of religious communities.

Among them, they identified six cases of collective expulsions, four of which occurred in the first half of 2023, all involving members of religious communities.

The report details that the victims were never able to submit their case for review to a competent authority.

Based on the testimonies gathered and the documentation analyzed, the group said it has reasonable grounds to believe that the Government of Nicaragua has systematically and with discriminatory intent violated its nationals’ right to freedom of movement and to choose their residence, enshrined in article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

It also found that the Government similarly affected the right of foreigners legally present in its territory not to be expelled without legal basis and without due process, enshrined in article 13 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Group of Experts: Jan Simon (Germany), Ariela Peralta (Uruguay), and Angela Buitrago (Colombia), has denounced in its two reports that the Government of Nicaragua has committed crimes against humanity against part of the country’s population for political reasons.

*With information from EFE

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times. To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.


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Redacción Confidencial

Redacción Confidencial

Confidencial es un diario digital nicaragüense, de formato multimedia, fundado por Carlos F. Chamorro en junio de 1996. Inició como un semanario impreso y hoy es un medio de referencia regional con información, análisis, entrevistas, perfiles, reportajes e investigaciones sobre Nicaragua, informando desde el exilio por la persecución política de la dictadura de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo.