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OAS calls on Nicaragua to release all government opponents

June 20, 2019
A student, masked to hide her identify for fear of being identified and targeted by security forces or government supporters, protests to demand the release of all political prisoners on the last day of a 90-day period for releasing such prisoners as part of negotiations between the government and opposition, on the campus of the Central American University (UCA) where security forces legally cannot enter in Managua, Nicaragua, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. Nicaragua's government said Tuesday that it has released all prisoners detained in relation to 2018 anti-government protests, though the opposition maintains that more than 80 people it considers political prisoners are still in custody. (AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga)
A student, masked to hide her identify for fear of being identified and targeted by security forces or government supporters, protests to demand the release of all political prisoners on the last day of a 90-day period for releasing such prisoners as part of negotiations between the government and opposition, on the campus of the Central American University (UCA) where security forces legally cannot enter in Managua, Nicaragua, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. Nicaragua's government said Tuesday that it has released all prisoners detained in relation to 2018 anti-government protests, though the opposition maintains that more than 80 people it considers political prisoners are still in custody. (AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga)

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — The Organization of American States urged Nicaragua on Thursday to release all imprisoned government opponents, cancel the legal cases against them and restore fundamental rights.

The OAS said in a statement that it applauds “the release of political prisoners,” about 600 of whom have been already transferred to house arrest since February.

But it added that it is “imperative” that all those remaining behind bars be freed and have their cases dismissed.

The OAS also called for similar guarantees for Nicaraguans who fled to exile. According to the Civic Alliance opposition group, at least 200 of them have outstanding arrest warrants.

The government says it has released all prisoners from a list agreed upon during a 90-day window that ended this week. But the opposition says at least 84 people arrested after the initial agreement remain jailed.

On Wednesday the Civic Alliance asked the OAS and Roman Catholic officials in Managua to intercede on their behalf.

In an apparent response, the OAS called for all people jailed for political reasons to be released regardless of when they were detained. It said the existence of political prisoners is “incompatible” with democracy and rule of law.

Protests erupted in April 2018 over a planned social security overhaul and broadened to include demands that President Daniel Ortega leave office and allow early elections.

At least 325 people were killed and more than 2,000 wounded in a crackdown on the demonstrations by security forces and armed pro-government civilian groups.

Ortega’s government has repeatedly characterized its opponents as coup-plotting “terrorists.”

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