The Organization of American States’ human rights arm on Wednesday urged its judicial counterpart to protect four opposition Nicaraguan politicians facing “a situation of extreme risk.”
All four are critics of Nicaragua’s authoritarian President Daniel Ortega and have been detained in recent days in an expanding crackdown on dissenting voices. The Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has asked for provisional measures to be implemented to protect Juan Sebastian Chamorro, Jose Adan Aguerri, Felix Maradiaga and Violeta Granera. Its judicial counterpart, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in Costa Rica, can issue such provisional measures “in cases of extreme seriousness and urgency to avoid irreparable harm to people.” Both bodies are autonomous organs within the Organization of American States. With Nicaragua’s presidential elections five months away, its authorities have detained 19 opposition figures this month, including five expected to run for president.
“The deprivation of liberty of these people is closely related to the intention of silencing them through reprisals and thereby sending a message of punishment,” the Commission said in a statement. It added that the arrests target those “who protest against state actions or who seek to be opposition to the current Nicaraguan government in the upcoming general elections in November.” In 2018 and 2019, the Commission issued precautionary measures concerning the four opposition figures but said the increased risk to their lives required intervention by the Court to ensure their safety.
These rulings are binding on OAS member states, including Nicaragua. The government claims those arrested are conspiring with the United States to overthrow Ortega. His opponents accuse him of trying to clear the path to run unopposed in November’s presidential election.