Nicaragua Holding More Than 500 Political Prisoners, Opposition Says

The Comité Pro Libertad de Presos y Presas Políticas de Nicaragua (Pro-Freedom Committee of Prisoners and Political Prisoners of Nicaragua) and the Alianza Cívica (Civic Alliance) has raised to 558 the number of people arrested during the against President Daniel Ortega and reported that the majority are subjected to reprisals in the prisons: they are in isolation, there are constant threats and they are in unhealthy conditions.

Human rights organizations and relatives of detainees say there are more than 500 political prisoners

Of the 558 people who are detained, according to figures compiled by complaints from relatives and complaints made to human rights organizations, there are 375 who are being prosecuted, 36 have already been sentenced and there are at least 147 people who have been detained for more than 48 hours without formal charge. There are some cases in which they have been detained for more than three months.

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The number of the detained is more than double the number acknowledged by the government, which classifies them as “terrorists” and “coup-mongers.”

For the most part, the 512 men, 43 women and 3 transgenders, remain “illegally detained” in police lockups and in maximum-security prisons, according to the Civic Alliance

In total, there are 349 people held “La Modelo” and “La Esperanza” penitentiary centers, 70 in the Directorate of Judicial Assistance (El Chipotle), 39 in police stations, 13 under house arrest an 87 people who were arrested by hooded vigilantes or by the police, but the authorities do not give information on his whereabouts.

The report also touches on the physical conditions of the detainees. According to testimonies of the detainees themselves, the cells do not have ventilation and lighting, they are wet from the rains and do not have beds.

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“The water and food provided by the Penitentiary System are unhealthy, food and liquid is limited, and prescription medicines do not reach them. This has a direct impact on them,” said Daniel Esquivel, of the Pro Libertad Committee of the prisoners.

Ruth Escobar is a mother who reports that her son his constantly being beaten while in prison

According to the Committee report, many of the detainees are suffering from diabetes, blood pressure, kidney and skin infections, gastritis, foot fungus, epileptic seizures, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and there have even been documented cases of abortions because of the precarious conditions in which they find themselves in”.

Ortega denies the accusations and says that the wave of protests constitutes an attempted coup d’etat.

The protests began on April 18 over a few quickly rescinded changes to the pension system but morphed into the demand for the resignation of Ortega, who was re-elected in 2016 with more than 70 percent of the vote.

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