Nicaragua: MEPs demand internal dialogue to restore democratic order
- Conditional release or “”house for jail” for prisoners awaiting trial
- End restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, demonstration and information
- Government must allow return of international human rights organizations
Nicaragua must begin a process of dialogue between the Government and the opposition to restore democratic order and rule of law, MEPs said after a visit to the country last week.
Eleven MEPs from six political groups in the EP, led by Ramón Jáuregui (S&D, ES), were in Managua from Wednesday 23 to Saturday 26 January, where they met representatives of the government, including President Daniel Ortega, the opposition, civil society and the Church, as well as journalists and students.
They also visited the prisons of La Esperanza and El Chipote, where many of the students arrested after the protests that began in April last year are imprisoned.
On behalf of the delegation, Ramón Jáuregui pointed out:
"We are very grateful to the Government of Nicaragua, which allowed us to make the planned visit without limitation of any kind. Following the meetings, we have concluded that the disproportionate repression of peaceful protests brought to the surface the hidden malaise of a country that demands more freedom and better democracy.
The authorities’ response to these demands has plunged the country into a crisis of democracy and the rule of law, freedoms and human rights. Nowadays the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and demonstration are being severely restricted. The right to information is undermined when journalists are persecuted and audio-visual media are shut down.
Nicaragua urgently needs to recover the dialogue between the government and the opposition. It is essential that the two sides negotiate the conditions for a successful culture of democracy that allows for coexistence in peace and freedom. Negotiation must focus on the reforms needed to guarantee respect for the will of the people, a key element for a credible democracy. Accepting the possibility of defeat is an essential feature of democracy. A credible, fair and transparent electoral system must be the core of immediate negotiation.
We call on the government to facilitate this dialogue with three essential gestures: provisional release or “house for jail” for prisoners awaiting trial, an end to restrictions on freedoms and harassment of social leaders, and allowing international human rights organisations to return to the country.
The opposition, for its part, must reiterate its message of peace, making it clear that it only aspires to win political power by word and vote.
The peaceful protests initiated in April 2018 against the reform of the social security system were harshly repressed by the Nicaraguan authorities, followed by a wave of pressure against the opposition and the media. According to international observers, several hundred people have died in Nicaragua since April, and many opposition figures and journalists have fled the country, as have many ordinary citizens.
The European Parliament condemned in May the repression and intimidation of peaceful demonstrators, while denouncing the deterioration of democracy and the rule of law in Nicaragua, accompanied by growing corruption, often involving relatives of President Ortega. The House urged the government to respect human rights and called for fair and credible elections.
List of members taking part in the delegation
Ramón Jáuregui (S&D, ES), head of the delegation