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U.N. report cites deaths, abuses in Nicaraguan human rights crisis

By
Ed Adamczyk
Protesters participate in an anti-government demonstration Managua, Nicaragua, on July 12, 2018. A United Nations report released on Wednesday said there have been 300 killings and numerous human rights violations in a four-month crackdown. File Photo by Jorge Torres/EPA-EFE
Protesters participate in an anti-government demonstration Managua, Nicaragua, on July 12, 2018. A United Nations report released on Wednesday said there have been 300 killings and numerous human rights violations in a four-month crackdown. File Photo by Jorge Torres/EPA-EFE

Aug. 29 (UPI) -- A United Nations report, released Wednesday, condemned Nicaragua's human rights record and urged action and accountability in the Central American nation.

The 41-page report by the U.N. Human Rights Office covers the period from April, when protests in Nicaragua against planned social security cuts began, to August. It identifies a disproportionate use of force by police, sometimes resulting in deaths; killings, disappearances and widespread arbitrary detentions; torture and violations of the right to freedom of opinion and peaceful assembly.

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At least 300 people have been killed and at least 2,000 injured, mostly men under 30, the U.N. said. The casualty count reflects the protesters, who included university students and young professionals, the report said. At least 22 police officers died as well.

"The level of brutality in some of these episodes, including burning, amputations and desecration of corpses illustrates the serious degeneration of the crisis," the report said.

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At least 300 civilians have been prosecuted on charges of terrorism and organized crime in courts that do not observe due process, the U.N. report said citing data from non-governmental organizations. Teachers, doctors and civil servants have been fired from jobs for criticizing the government, and authorities have harassed or stigmatized protesters and defenders of human rights, the U.N. report said.

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"Repression and retaliation against demonstrators continue in Nicaragua as the world looks away. The violence and impunity of these past four months have exposed the fragility of the country's institutions and the rule of law, and created a climate of fear and mistrust," said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

The report urges the Nicaraguan government to guarantee the independence of the country's judiciary and resume a dialogue with its adversaries.

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