UN: Nicaragua Crackdown Deaths May Be ‘Unlawful Killlings’

The United Nations human rights office says some of the more than two dozen deaths of peaceful protestors in Nicaragua may amount to “unlawful killings.”

U.N. human rights spokeswoman, Liz Throssell, says reliable sources report Nicaraguan police and other security forces killed at least 25 people during recent nationwide protests against planned social security reforms.

“We are particularly concerned that a number of these deaths may amount to unlawful killings. We call on the Nicaraguan authorities to ensure that there are prompt, thorough, independent and transparent investigations into these deaths,” said Throssell.

This deadly crackdown occurred during a week of peaceful protests aimed at getting the Nicaraguan government to back down from its proposed changes to the country’s social security system. Under this plan, citizens in this impoverished Central American nation would be required to contribute five percent of their pensions to help reduce a ballooning national deficit.

Throssell says her agency has received disturbing reports that dozens of people have been injured or detained over the past few days. She says other acts of violence and cases of looting allegedly took place during the protests.

“It is essential that all allegations of excessive use of force by police and other security forces are effectively investigated to ensure those responsible are held to account,” she said. “Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has announced a halt to the planned reforms. However, we understand that further demonstrations are likely.”

The U.N. human rights office is urging demonstrators to protest peacefully. At the same time, it is calling on Nicaragua’s government to abide by its international obligations and allow people to exercise their right to freedom of expression and assembly.

The U.N. agency says this also applies to human rights defenders and journalists. It says they have the right to monitor developments and report on events without being harassed and attacked in the course of their work.