The Government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo committed “crimes against humanity” during the repression of the civic protests, says the final report of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI, by its Spanish acronym), which at the same time recommends investigating President Ortega and the Directors, Deputy Directors and department chiefs of the National Police, as well as other officials, for their responsibility in the acts of violence.
To prevent the GIEI from presenting this report in Nicaragua as scheduled on Thursday, the regime of Ortega and Rosario Murillo, expelled on Wednesday the four members of the Group, which was established in the country through an agreement signed by the Nicaraguan Government, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) and the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS).
“The State of Nicaragua has carried out conducts that in accordance with international law should be considered crimes against humanity, particularly murder, arbitrary depravation of liberty and the crime of persecution,” states the 450-page document, which was presented this Friday in Washington, D.C.
The experts explained that “this entails certain consequences, such as the non-applicability of statutes of limitations and the impossibility to issuing amnesty regulations or similar rules that seek to prevent trials or convictions. It also opens the possibility of involving courts of other countries, under the principle of universal jurisdiction, and even the eventual intervention of the International Criminal Court (ICC), in the event that the United Nations Security Council remits the situation to the ICC or that the State of Nicaragua itself accepts the jurisdiction.”
Pablo Parenti, member of GIEI, told CONFIDENCIAL that crimes against humanity are the most serious category of crimes at the international level, and it enables any country in the world to put on trial those responsible for these crimes.
He explained that under current conditions [Nicaragua is not a member] the ICC cannot act, but it could happen if the UN Security Council refers the case to the Court, which is established in the statutes of the United Nations. “When the Security Council decides that a situation goes to the International Criminal Court, it does not matter if the country signed the statute or not.
They shot to kill
GIEI analyzed, by mandate, the acts of violence that took place between April 18 and May 30. The brutal repression and the harassment of opponents which occurred after that date are not included in the Group’s text, made up of four experts from Italy, Guatemala, Argentina and Peru.
In the period of analysis, the GIEI registered at least 109 citizens killed, more than 1,400 wounded and more than 690 detainees for participating in the protests. Thus far, there are 325 confirmed deaths, more than 3,000 injured, dozens of missing persons, more than 600 political prisoners and around 60,000 exiled due to political persecution.
“Of the 109 deaths analyzed by the GIEI, 95 of them were caused by gunshots, all with impacts on the head, neck and chest,” highlights the report, adding that, of the 1,400 injured, at least 599 were by firearms, which “gives another dimension of the use of firearms in the context.”
This conclusion of the GIEI reaffirms an investigation of Confidencial, which revealed that the pattern of the shots against the protesters: lethal wounds to the head, neck and torax. The tomography of 19 victims, in possession of this media outlet, show that the shots were accurate in the forehead, parietal, temporal and occipital.
The Italian Amerigo Incalcaterra, member of GIEI, told Confidencial that the figures demonstrate the excesses and the “disproportionate” use of force. In addition, he stressed that the 599 wounded with firearms, are citizens who could have died, consequently, the figure of murdered could be more shocking.
Governmental repression policy
“The use of violence by the State did not consist of isolated acts, but was carried out in an organized manner and at different times and places of the country. The repeated behavior and the reaction of government authorities to them, reflects that it was not about events that could be explained by the isolated decision of one or more police agents, or by the action of civic groups that decided on their own to carry out violent actions of repression of the protests. Instead, it was a repression policy promoted and endorsed by the highest authority of the State,” highlights the GIEI report.
It adds that “the GIEI was able to determine that the majority of the murders and serious injuries are the responsibility of the National Police, whose personnel acted directly and also in a coordinated manner with the armed paramilitary groups.”
Based on this, the experts recommend that “an investigation into the responsibility of events should be carried out on President Daniel Ortega, as Supreme Chief of the National Police, of those who served as Director General (Aminta Granera and Francisco Diaz), the Deputy Director Generals Ramón Avellán and Adolfo Marenco, in charge of the operational and intelligence areas and the members of the National Directorate of the National Police.”
In addition, the “authorities of the different departmental and regional delegations” of the National Police, the “authorities of the Managua Police, commissioners Sergio Gutierrez, Fernando Borge and Juan Valle Valle, of the surveillance and patrol department must be investigated. Likewise, the Chief of the (Special Operations Department) DOEP, Justo Pastor Urbina, as well as all the heads of the specialized units that make up the DOEP,” states the document.
Parenti commented that it is possible that a Government faces a lack of control of the Police, which commits abuses by its own decision. “That could happen to a president, but not to a president who never recognizes (the abuses) and (instead) rewards the (police) chiefs.”
Last August, Ortega officially named Francisco Diaz, father-in-law of his son, as Director of the National Police. He also ratified commissioner Avellan as deputy director. He is accused by Masaya residents of leading the armed attacks against the citizens and which left more than 30 dead in that city east of Managua.
Investigate and prosecute health officials
“The GIEI compiled numerous and varied information that reveals the existence of severe irregularities and denial of public medical services to people wounded during the violent events,” the report states.
It adds that “many professionals who treated the wounded and served in the emergency posts were dismissed from their jobs and they even had to leave the country for fear of reprisals. The firing and displacement of doctors also occurred with those who, without being part of these emergency posts, fulfilled the Hippocratic Oath of their profession and also treated the injured.”
The experts note that “all these situations, that involve a drastic departure from medical duties, should be investigated and judged when conditions exist. In this sense, the GIEI recommends that the responsibility of the Minister of Health, Sonia Castro, be investigated as well as the management of each public hospital and the role of the Fetsalud health workers union structure in the events. Likewise, to determine what measures were taken—or not—to ensure public health in cases of extreme seriousness.”