The Ortega-Murillo legislature passed a polemic Amnesty Law on Saturday, after the entire Sandinista block voted in the affirmative. The law is a de-facto pardon for regime operatives, who may have committed crimes against humanity, as indicated by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) in December of 2018. GIEI indicated that,
After examining the reported facts, the GIEI considers that the State’s response to the protests and demonstration that began on April 18th consisted of a generalized and systematic attack against the civilian population. This conclusion is based on the geographical and temporal scope of the events, the number of victims, the seriousness of the repressive actions, as well as the existence of certain patterns of conduct that were carried out with State resources, according to a policy that was determined and supported by the State’s highest authorities. In the opinion of the GIEI, and in conformity with the available information, the State of Nicaragua perpetrated actions that amount to crimes against humanity, according to international law, namely murders, arbitrary deprivation of liberty and persecution.
Article 1 of the new law extends an amnesty to “people who have not been investigated,” and orders that any investigation into possible crimes against humanity must cease.
The Alianza Cívica demanded rejected the amnesty law, via a press release, demanding compliance with agreements signed in March, whereby the government guaranteed the “complete, definitive, and unconditional release of all political prisoners.”
Via press statement, Ortega-Murillo Interior Ministry indicated it had “freed fifty people for crimes against common security and public peace.”
These are the fifty prisoners released today
- Emmanuel Antonio Dávila Largaespada
- Alejandro Moisés Arauz Cáceres
- Hanssel Manuel Vásquez Ruiz
- Juan Ramón Mena Galarza
- Luis Manuel Hernández Fuentes
- Jaime Enrique Navarrete Blandón
- Juan Carlos Baquedano
- Jefferson Alexander Barboza Pérez
- Jonathan Andrés Lacayo
- Justino Antonio Jarquín
- Víctor Manuel Obando Valverde
- Francisco Javier Hernández Morales
- David Hernández López
- Luis Avinel Halsall Fernández
- Jonathan Rodolfo Soza Marín
- Álvaro Ernesto Hernández
- Ariel Geovanny Maltez
- Fabio Rafael Picado Castillo
- Fernando José Ortega Alonso
- Jean Carlos Solís Romero
- Jefferson Audiel Maltes
- Juan José López Oporta
- Max Alfredo Silva Rivas
- Michael Enrique Peña
- Rommel Fabián Guillen
- Karla Vanessa Matus Méndez
- Ricardo Antonio Pavón Cárdenas
- Wilmer Antonio Useda Brenes
- Javier Francisco Cerda Pavón
- Andy Geovanny Tapia Solórzano
- Julio Cesar Morales Jarquín
- Darwin Eliecer Pavón López
- Bismarck Antonio López Sánchez
- José de Jesús López Sánchez, alias
- Ariel Geovanny Flores
- Roger Antonio Gutiérrez Díaz
- José Santos Sánchez Rodríguez
- Douglas Antonio Baltodano Pérez
- Marlon Gerónimo Sánchez
- Humberto de Jesús Pérez Cabrera
- Felipe Santiago Vásquez Hondoy
- Chester Iván Membreño Palacios
- Carlos Alberto Vanegas Gómez
- Gabriel Leónidas Putoy Cano
- Marlon José Fonseca Román
- Erick Antonio Robleto Rivera
- Helder Rafael Calero Palma
- Santo Julián Morales Calero
- Fiederich Odaryl Mena Amador
- Leonel Iván Lezama Hernández.
Hansell Vásquez, a young journalist that was sentenced to 17 years in prison on charges of terrorism, indicated that “political prisoners did not need amnesty to be released.” Vásquez added that the government needs amnesty “to cover up crimes against humanity.”
Es sumamente importante este testimonio de Hanssel Vásquez sobre el significado de su liberación con respecto a la Ley de Amnistía.
Los presos políticos no exigen amnistía, exigen justicia. pic.twitter.com/U9jGkCyIG8
— Ricardo Zambrana (@Zambranitis) June 10, 2019
International Community Responds to Amnesty.
International response to the law has been mostly critical. For example, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, expressed her office’s concern, as the law “could impede the [judicial] processing of people potentially responsible of grave violations of human rights.” Bachelet also noted that “amnesties for grave violations of human rights are prohibited in international law.”
Lea la nota completa
— OACNUDH (@OACNUDH) June 8, 2019
In similar vein, the Inter American Human Rights Commission stated that amnesties that “impeded” the investigation and sanction of people responsible for grave violations of human rights “are contrary to the American Convention on Human Rights.”
La CIDH reitera que son contrarias a la Convención Americana las leyes de amnistía que impidan la investigación y sanción a los responsables de las graves violaciones de derechos humanos #Nicaragua #MESENI (2)
— CIDH (@CIDH) June 8, 2019
Pablo Parenti, of the GIEI, added that the law was “useless” as a protection against crimes against humanity. Such crimes do not prescribe.
Daniel Ortega quiere dictar una ley de amnistía que ampare los crímenes cometidos por su gobierno. Inútil frente a crímenes de lesa humanidad. pic.twitter.com/qz2dmNedVl
— Pablo Parenti (@Pablo_Parenti) June 7, 2019
José Manuel Vivanco, of Human Rights Watch, noted as well that even though the “law makes exceptions for crimes regulated by international treaties,” there is no mechanism to ensure these crimes are actually excluded and prosecuted. Vivanco concludes that the laws purpose is to “consolidate the regime’s impunity.”
Nicaragua debe rechazar la ley de amnistía.
Aunque dice que “exceptúa” a los “delitos regulados en tratados internacionales”, no se establece ningún procedimiento serio para excluirlos.
El propósito es evidentemente intentar consolidar la impunidad del régimen. pic.twitter.com/qfZnSmSiah
— José Miguel Vivanco (@JMVivancoHRW) June 8, 2019
One commenter, European Parlament Member Ramón Jáuregui, was initially supportive of the law’s passage. Via Tweet, he indicated that the “amnesty” was “good news.”
La amnistía en #Nicaragua es muy buena noticia.
Si salen todos los presos,la principal exigencia se cumple y sería bueno reanudar negociaciones.
A la amnistía debe acompañar el cese de la represión a las libertades y la vuelta d las Organizaciones Internacionales #ÁnimoNicaragua
— Ramón Jáuregui (@RJaureguiA) June 8, 2019
However, Jáuregui later admitted he had not read the law closely enough when he published his first tweet. “I’m worried about several articles and how the government will interpret them. I let myself be led by excitement over the amnesty. If the government fools the Nicaraguan people, we will ask for more sanctions.”
#Nicaragua. He releído la Ley.
Me preocupan varios artículos y la interpretación que haga el gobierno.
Me dejé llevar por la emoción de la amnistía.
Si el gobierno engaña al pueblo nicaragüense, pediremos más sanciones.
Un abrazo al pueblo que sufre.
— Ramón Jáuregui (@RJaureguiA) June 9, 2019
The Amnesty Law is now in full effect, after it was published in La Gaceta on June 10.