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Purges in Nicaragua's Judicial Branch Continue: More Than 1,100 Dismissals

The purge that began in October 2023 continues quietly. Workers claim "there is terror of being the next person fired, interrogated, imprisoned"

Facade of the Supreme Court of Justice, in Nicaragua // Photo: Archive

Redacción Confidencial

10 de julio 2024

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The purge of the Nicaraguan Judiciary, ordered by the Vice President and spokesperson of the regime, Rosario Murillo, has not stopped since it began at the end of October 2023. Sources linked to the Judiciary Branch, as well as a former judicial official have confirmed to CONFIDENCIAL that there have been more than 1,100 dismissals nationally. 

In mid-June of this year, several public servants from administrative areas of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) were dismissed. "They dismissed them verbally, without even informing them of the reasons. You just see that they are called in and then they're removed from the office without letting them take anything with them," says Ana, a judiciary worker in Managua. 


Ana continues, "At one point the dismissals seemed to stop and we only heard of interrogations happening, but we have continued to count people who have been removed from their positions without any explanation. We avoid contact with them out of fear."

The purge in the Judiciary began on October 24, 2023, with the police raid carried out by retired Commissioner General Horacio Rocha against the president of the CSJ, Alba Luz Ramos, who was evicted from her office and sent home.

As of November 2023, CONFIDENCIAL had corroborated at least 900 people who had been fired. These included magistrates, department directors, judges and secretaries of central and local courts and offices, as well as administrative personnel. Since then, more than 200 workers have been added to that list of dismissals.

Less budget means more layoffs

"The internal political reorganization continues, and they do it without applying the procedures established in the Civil Service and Administrative Career Law, nor in the Judicial Career Law. They have even removed Sandinista fanatics who have been characterized as being very servile to the Daniel Ortega-Rosario Murillo regime," affirms lawyer and former Judicial Branch official, Yader Morazán.

The 2024 Judiciary budget reflects a reduction of 80.5% –the equivalent of around US$26 million– in the "permanent salaries" line item, evidencing the wave of dismissals ordered by the dictatorship. "That is why they have had to keep doing this; they need to adjust to the new budget, and they have also removed functions from the Judiciary and even eliminated some areas," says Morazán.

The CSJ had approximately 9,000 employees. The purge eliminated a little more than 12% of the personnel, who were not granted a letter of dismissal, severance pay, or pension fund. "They have hired a few people to replace some positions, but they are very few," indicates the former Judicial Branch worker.

Morazán says that one of the last to be fired was Angela Fernández Irías, who worked for years in a senior administrative position within the General Directorate of Judicial Offices. "She thought she was untouchable because she hobnobbed with the powerful, because she was involved in political work and because she was a relative of a hero of the Sandinista struggle, but it has been shown that no one is immune," he insists.

The ten CSJ magistrate vacancies, which were expected to be filled by "officials loyal" to Rosario Murillo in January 2024, are still vacant. For Morazán, this is evidence that the Judiciary is "intervened" and "paralyzed".

"The new administrative secretary general of the CSJ, Róger Eduardo Martínez Domínguez, who is loyal to Rosario Murillo, is the person with the most power at the moment," Morazán says. "But what is evident so far from their behavior is that the layoffs will continue in the coming days," he continued.

"There's a lot of fear" in the Judiciary

Roberto, a Judiciary administrative worker, says that the dismissals "have affected" even people who were "put in place by the great godfathers" of the Judiciary Branch.

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"We see what's happening, because people boast of being sponsored by a certain magistrate, and yet we have seen dismissals of people close both to magistrates who fell in disgrace, as well as to those who seem to be still be close [to the regime]," says Roberto 

Omar, who has been working in the Judicial Branch for a little more than five years, affirms that there is "an atmosphere of great fear" because "many judicial offices have been left almost without workers."

"There are municipalities where they have fired almost everyone who worked in certain courts and that also affects everything because there is a lot of delay in the justice system throughout the country," Omar explains.

In addition to the dismissals, interrogations of public officials in the Judiciary have become "the norm," Morazán said. This situation has created "a generalized fear" within that branch of government.

Morazán says that even "some judges and magistrates have been mentally preparing their close personnel for the possibility of being questioned at any moment."

Omar says there are also some "sponsored" workers who have managed to be "moved" to areas where "they think they will be less visible. But I have known of people who had a lot of power, who were party organizers and agitators, who have not been spared from these interrogations. It seems that everyone is vulnerable," he adds.

Firings and witch hunts in the Judiciary have been happening since 2022

By 2022, the dictatorship had already ordered purges in the Judicial Branch. The report: "FSLN witch hunts in the Judiciary Branch look for 'internal enemies'," published in May 2023, revealed how the now-dismissed and imprisoned Berman Martínez was responsible for carrying out the dismissals of collaborators of the Court, following orders from the Supreme Court vice president, Justice Marvin Aguilar, who in turn, was following orders from Néstor Moncada Lau of the FSLN Secretariat.

Martínez, who was one of the coordinators of the troll farm "branch" installed in the Judiciary. The troll farm was dedicated to spreading propaganda and attacking people the regime considers opponents on social media. Martínez was convicted in a secret trial in December 2023 for alleged crimes related to corruption, along with five other former CSJ officials.

Also convicted was Herrol Raití Morales, former advisor to Alba Luz Ramos, the ousted president of the CSJ. He is also the son of former guerrilla fighter and former founder of the Police, Herrol Morales Usaga. All of those convicted never saw or spoke to their public defender.

The indiscriminate purge that has affected the "fiefdoms" of personnel close to Justices Alba Luz Ramos, Yadira Centeno, Armando Juarez, and Armengol Cuadra, among others, was reported in CONFIDENCIAL in November last year by Emma, a former official who worked for 18 years in the Judiciary and defected after the first captures and dismissals took place."There is an atmosphere of anxiety and uncertainty, of persecution. You arrive at the judicial headquarters and from one day to the next, they seize your cell phone, they fire you without warning. There are many people who have had their homes raided, their telephones, computers, laptops taken from their homes in the presence of their families, their children," Emma said then.

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff. 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.

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