The GHREN concluded, with reasonable grounds, that since April 2018, a variety of State actors and institutions, following orders issued by the Presidency and Vice Presidency, participated in the commission of crimes and serious human rights violations and abuses as part of a discriminatory policy to systematically persecute and silence any person and disarticulate any civic or political organization that maintains a position different from that of the Government, or that is perceived as critical or adversarial to the Government.
The GHREN found that the police and pro-government armed groups committed extrajudicial executions in the context of the repression of protests, acting in most cases, in a joint and coordinated manner. Pro-government groups acted on instructions given by State authorities at the national and local levels and/or by local leaders of the ruling party. The GHREN also documented the role played by the Ministry of Health during the protests, by denying care to those injured. Further investigations are required in order to ascertain the extent of the involvement of the Nicaraguan Army in the repression of social protests.
The GHREN found that the justice system became a structured and organized mechanism to detain real or perceived opponents, acting in a concerted and systematic manner, and to accuse them, prosecute them, and execute the sentences against them, on the basis of legal processes based on ad hoc fabricated evidence, or on legislation interpreted and/or designed by the National Assembly in order to execute instructions from the Presidency of the Republic.
The GHREN documented how various government institutions, including the Police, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the Judiciary, participated in the commission of arbitrary detentions and violations of due process in an articulated manner. The GHREN also documented the participation of National Penitentiary System officers and Police agents in the commission of acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, including acts of sexual and gender-based violence, committed opponents.
The violations, abuses, and crimes investigated by the GHREN and described in this report trigger both the responsibility of the State of Nicaragua, as well as individual criminal responsibility, either under international criminal law, or in accordance with the criminal definitions in Nicaraguan or third country legislation.
A. State Responsibility
As the principal duty bearer under international human rights law, the State of Nicaragua is responsible for the violations of its human rights obligations committed through the acts and omissions attributable to it, as documented in this report. Actions attributable to the State of Nicaragua are those committed by the different government branches and by other public authorities, whether at the national, regional, or local level, as well as by non-State actors or groups acting on the instructions or under the effective direction or control of the State, or with the consent or acquiescence of the State.
The State of Nicaragua has failed to fulfill its obligation to prevent the violations, abuses, and crimes documented in this report, and to guarantee accessible and effective remedies to victims whenever such violations, abuses and crimes have been committed. The State has also failed to investigate these violations, abuses, and crimes and to punish those responsibly.
B. Individual criminal responsibility
The GHREN has reasonable grounds to believe that public officials and authorities of all branches of the government and at all levels participated in the commission in human rights violations, and that verified in all their elements, these violations support the conclusion that the crimes against humanity of murder, imprisonment, torture, rape, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity, forced deportation, and politically motivated persecution were committed in Nicaragua.
The GHREN has not established the individual criminal responsibility in which officials and former officials of the State agencies and institutions mentioned throughout the report may have incurred. However, GHREN has registered the names of individuals identified by the victims as directly responsible for the documented violations, abuses, and crimes in its database. The Group has also identified individuals whose contributions within the State machinery could give rise to individual criminal responsibility at the international and national levels.
During the period analyzed, high-ranking officials exercised control over the State agencies and dependencies identified in the report as responsible for human rights violations. These include the National Police, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Judiciary, the National Penitentiary System, the Ministry of Health, the National Assembly, and the Ministry of the Interior. The direct perpetrators of the documented crimes, including police agents, members of pro-government armed groups, judges, prosecutors, and officials of the Penitentiary System, among others, are responsible for their actions. Their immediate supervisors and others up the chain of command are also responsible for their criminal conduct.
The GHREN has reasonable grounds to believe that authorities at the highest level of the State structure, including President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, as well as senior members of the National Police, participated in the crimes documented in the report. Further, that the superior officers and the chiefs of the Police and the Penitentiary System knew or should have known about the crimes and violations committed by their subordinates and failed to take preventive and punitive measures, despite having the effective capacity to do so.
The GHREN needs to conduct additional investigations to reach specific conclusions about the responsibilities of individual perpetrators. The GHREN needs to further investigate the command structures responsible for the violations, abuses, and crimes and the links between direct perpetrators and others in these structures, which continue to perpetrate the violations described at the time of writing this report.