On May 4, 2020, the Council of the European Union has approved a travel ban and asset freeze against six top Nicaraguans officers. According to the EU, sanctions target individuals liable for grave human rights violations in Nicaragua and are intended not to damage the Nicaraguan people.
A Declaration on Nicaragua by the EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, communicated on behalf of the European Union, outlines how during the last months, no real improvements have been made on democracy and human rights in Nicaragua. The EU denounces the persistence of security forces, and pro-government armed companies control on political adversaries, protesters, reporters, civil society societies, and members of the Catholic Church.
The resolution follows the EU’s commitment to enforcing every permissible mechanism to back a democratic, nonviolent, and agreed resolution to the political emergency in Nicaragua. The Council expressed concern about these issues when it approved on October 14, 2019, some targeted restrictive measures.
The EU asks the Government of Nicaragua to fulfill in its entirety to the commitments made in the March 2019 agreements with the opposition. EU High Representative Borrell’s statement quotes three critical areas in which concrete improvement must be achieved:
- The accomplishment in full of March 29, 2019, deals to bolster civil and political rights and assurances, involving the reinstatement of political liberties and the legal status of forbidden civil society groups, the free and secure return of expatriates, and the acquittal of residual political detainees. The EU also asks the lifting of accusations against liberated political convicts, halting the persecution and pressure of them and their families, and ensuring their security and corporal safety.
- Full collaboration with, and the reestablishment of international human rights organizations to Nicaragua, comprising the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
- A covenant on the poll and institutional corrections between the government and the opposition, including the National Coalition, meant at assuring reliable, comprehensive, and transparent elections. The EU maintains the validity of the recommendations of the 2011 EU Electoral Observation Mission, referring to them as an essential framework of reference. EU recommendations comprise reorganizations such as the nomination of new members of the Supreme Electoral Council and associated electoral bodies, the voter registry, the publication and presentation of outcomes, or the authorization of national and international witnesses.
Individuals subject to sanctions may present a request to the Council, together with supporting documentation, that the decision to include them on the lists mentioned above should be reconsidered before July 1, 2020.
Who are the six Nicaraguan officers subject to EU sanctions?
Ramón Antonio AVELLÁN MEDAL is the Deputy Director-General of the Nicaraguan National Police (NNP) and former chief of the police in Masaya. He is suspect of serious human rights violations and for the repression of civil society and democratic opposition in Nicaragua, including by coordinating the repression of protesters in Masaya in 2018.
Sonia CASTRO GONZÁLEZ is the Special advisor to the President of Nicaragua on health issues and former Minister of Health. He is indicted for severe human rights violations and for the repression of civil society and democratic opposition in Nicaragua, including by hindering access to emergency medical assistance for injured civilians involved in demonstrations and ordering hospital staff to report demonstrators who have been brought to a hospital by the police.
Francisco Javier DÍAZ MADRIZ is the General Director of the Nicaraguan National Police (NNP) since August 23, 2018, and former Deputy General Director of NNP. He is allegedly responsible for serious human rights violations and the repression of civil society and democratic opposition in Nicaragua, including by leading police forces committing violence against civilians, including unnecessary use of force, indiscriminate arrests and custody, and torture.
Néstor MONCADA LAU is the Personal advisor to the President of Nicaragua on national security matters. In this job, he is charged with being directly involved in and responsible for decision-making on domestic security matters and the establishment of repressive policies carried out by the State of Nicaragua against people taking part in demonstrations, opposition representatives, and journalists in Nicaragua from April 2018 onwards.
Luís PÉREZ OLIVAS is the General Commissioner and Legal Assistance Main Officer (DAEJ) in the ‘El Chipote’ penitentiary center. He is allegedly responsible for serious human rights violations, including torture, use of considerable force, mistreatment of detainees, and other forms of degrading treatment.
Justo PASTOR URBINA is the Head of the Police Special Operations Unit (DOEP). He is charged with having been directly involved in the implementation of repressive policies against demonstrators and the opposition in Nicaragua, particularly in Managua. In this role, he is allegedly responsible for serious human rights violations and the repression of civil society and democratic debate in Nicaragua.