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Red Cross asks for clarity in its role in the release of political prisoners

Checking the list of detained protesters that will be released and returned to their families, as well as support in the logistics to achieve this task, are some of the tasks that could be performed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said Laura Schneeberger, leading the ICRC mission in Nicaragua.

Laura Schneeberger, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Nicaragua.

Schneeberger added that the role the Red Cross could play in this process of liberating anti-government protesters is still to be defined, and this must be agreed at the negotiating table between the Government of Daniel Ortega and the opposition, the Alianza Cívica (Civic Alliance).

On the function that the Red Cross could perform, Schneeberger explained that it can “ensure that people who are expected to regain their liberty, are included in the lists agreed upon by the two parties, so that they can be get back to their families; when it comes to liberation”.

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“We will not be at the negotiation table, we are not part of the dialogue, it is not our role; we are a strictly humanitarian, neutral and independent international organization; therefore, if the parties agree that there is a role for the International Committee of the Red Cross in this process, that it be strictly humanitarian; We are willing to collaborate,” said Schneeberger who arrived in the country on Monday last.

On Wednesday of this week the Government and the Civic Alliance agreed on a negotiating agenda, in which the release of protesters detained during the protests would take place within a period of 90 days.

Asked if the time (90 days) to achieve the release of the protesters is appropriate, Schneeberger said that in he opinion it is quite “prudent.”

“It is prudent in the sense that, in my view, it is a sufficient period of time to be able to organize the liberation in a good way and to make sure that everything will come out in the best possible way; otherwise, then, we would be in a hurry to make that commitment a reality. Now, if things can be resolved sooner, then, better for everyone, starting for the prisoners and their families,” she said.

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Schneeberger stressed that the timetable for the releases, requires a lot of coordination and rigor to get things done right.

In early March, the Government of Nicaragua and the ICRC signed a memorandum of understanding that allows the humanitarian agency to visit the country’s prisons.

Schneeberger and Ariane Tombet, chief of operations of the ICRC, held a meeting last Thursday with the head of the National Police, Francisco Díaz and the inspector general of that institution, commissioner Jaime Vanegas.

The information disclosed through the Police website indicates that the meeting addressed the actions that the ICRC is carrying out in Nicaragua and “the humanitarian challenges that arise in our country.”

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