Ortega-Murillo’s Amnesty Law Applied: Fifty Political Prisoners Released

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.

Amnesty Law, Article 1

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

  1. Emmanuel Antonio Dávila Largaespada
  2. Alejandro Moisés Arauz Cáceres
  3. Hanssel Manuel Vásquez Ruiz
  4. Juan Ramón Mena Galarza
  5. Luis Manuel Hernández Fuentes
  6. Jaime Enrique Navarrete Blandón
  7. Juan Carlos Baquedano
  8. Jefferson Alexander Barboza Pérez
  9. Jonathan Andrés Lacayo
  10. Justino Antonio Jarquín
  11. Víctor Manuel Obando Valverde
  12. Francisco Javier Hernández Morales
  13. David Hernández López
  14. Luis Avinel Halsall Fernández
  15. Jonathan Rodolfo Soza Marín
  16. Álvaro Ernesto Hernández
  17. Ariel Geovanny Maltez
  18. Fabio Rafael Picado Castillo
  19. Fernando José Ortega Alonso
  20. Jean Carlos Solís Romero
  21. Jefferson Audiel Maltes
  22. Juan José López Oporta
  23. Max Alfredo Silva Rivas
  24. Michael Enrique Peña
  25. Rommel Fabián Guillen
  26. Karla Vanessa Matus Méndez
  27. Ricardo Antonio Pavón Cárdenas
  28. Wilmer Antonio Useda Brenes
  29. Javier Francisco Cerda Pavón
  30. Andy Geovanny Tapia Solórzano
  31. Julio Cesar Morales Jarquín
  32. Darwin Eliecer Pavón López
  33. Bismarck Antonio López Sánchez
  34. José de Jesús López Sánchez, alias
  35. Ariel Geovanny Flores
  36. Roger Antonio Gutiérrez Díaz
  37. José Santos Sánchez Rodríguez
  38. Douglas Antonio Baltodano Pérez
  39. Marlon Gerónimo Sánchez
  40.  Humberto de Jesús Pérez Cabrera
  41. Felipe Santiago Vásquez Hondoy
  42. Chester Iván Membreño Palacios
  43. Carlos Alberto Vanegas Gómez
  44. Gabriel Leónidas Putoy Cano
  45. Marlon José Fonseca Román
  46. Erick Antonio Robleto Rivera
  47. Helder Rafael Calero Palma
  48. Santo Julián Morales Calero
  49.  Fiederich Odaryl Mena Amador
  50. 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.”

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.”

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.”

Pablo Parenti, of the GIEI, added that the law was “useless” as a protection against crimes against humanity. Such crimes do not prescribe.

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.”

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.”

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.”

The Amnesty Law is now in full effect, after it was published in La Gaceta on June 10.

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