Last month, the Nicaraguan government released eight women political prisoners, along with 92 other prisoners. These women revealed that women political prisoners in Nicaraguan prisons, including El Esperanza, are subject to high levels of sexual and physical violence, gender-based discrimination, and violations of due process. This includes being forced to strip naked, threats and execution of rape, the withholding of treatment for medical conditions such as congenital heart disease and advanced cancer, transgender women being held and harassed in male prisons, and arrests without warrants, charges, or due process.
In April of 2018, the police and armed paramilitary groups violently repressed mass anti-government protests against president Daniel Ortega and his government. This caused the death of an estimated 300 people and the injuries of about 2,000. Human Rights Watch reports that civil rights organizations in Nicaragua estimate that over 400 people have been arrested or detained in relation to the protest. Of this number, Race & Equality reports that 17 women political prisoners have been arrested – two of which were among the eight recently released – and 40 await prosecution.
The first-hand accounts of the released women political prisoners and by civil rights organizations corroborates findings of the mission by the European Union investigating Nicaraguan prisons earlier this year. In their report, the European Union calls on the Ortega government to “release all political prisoners, put an end to the repression, and allow the return of human rights organisations to the country”.
See the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders statement and #SetThemFree campaign here.
Find out about the human rights crisis and protests against Ortega here.
Read more about the human rights violations in Nicaragua’s prisons here.
See the report issued by the European Union on Nicaragua here.