Nicaragua kicks out UN human rights team after damning report

MANAGUA – The government of Nicaragua’s embattled President Daniel Ortega has ordered the expulsion of a United Nations human rights team.

Two days after the U.N. published a critical report on human rights in the Central American state blaming the government for the violent repression of opposition protests, the delegation was given two hours to leave. They had called on the government to end harassment and intimidation.

“The Nicaraguan government has expelled the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in retaliation for their damning report on the bloodbath in Nicaragua,” Jose Miguel Vivanco, the executive director for the Americas division at Human Rights Watch, tweeted in English and Spanish on Friday.

The U.N. report released on Wednesday called on the government of President Daniel Ortega to end “harassment, intimidation and criminalization.” It also called on “the Government to immediately dismantle and disarm pro-government elements, halt all unlawful arrests, and release all those who have been arbitrarily detained.”

“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 High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who ended his term at the U.N. on Friday.

The U.N. report covered the months since protests began over pension and social security changes in April. It outlined disproportionate use of force by police, extra-judicial killings, disappearances, detentions, torture and violations of freedom of opinion and expression.

The government claimed the report was biased and did not take into account what it claims was a coup attempt. Ortega refuted the claims and described the U.N. as “an instrument of the policies of terror, lies and infamy.” He has rejected calls to hold early elections and resign.

Nicaragua’s turmoil was triggered on April 18 when relatively small protests against now-scrapped social security reforms were met with a government crackdown, backed by armed paramilitaries.

This month, thousands of people protested for the release of political prisoners.

The president claims the protesters are working with domestic and international elements which want him removed from office.

Ortega also accused Roman Catholic bishops involved in mediation talks of also working with elements preparing a coup.

Nicaragua’s death count climbs to 285; 1,500 injured, 156 missing

The U.N. Security Council is expected to discuss the Nicaraguan situation next Wednesday.