I continue to be deeply concerned about the situation in Nicaragua.
The violence, intimidation and arbitrary arrest and detention of those seeking to peacefully protest is wholly unacceptable and I have unreservedly condemned these actions on a number of occasions. The right to freedom of expression and to peaceful demonstration are fundamental to a functioning democracy.
I am aware of the OHCHR, IACHR and Amnesty reports to which the Deputy refers. These reports highlight a worrying number of human rights abuses, which are yet to be addressed. Compounding this climate of impunity is a lack of official cooperation with the international missions investigating human rights abuses.
The Deputy will be aware that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) was expelled from the country following the publishing of its report. I would once again urge the Government of Nicaragua to allow the OHCHR officials to re-enter the country and continue their valuable work.
Ireland regularly engages on this issue with our European partners. Earlier this month, we supported the declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the situation in Nicaragua.
The statement expresses the EU’s serious concern at the situation, and urges the government of Nicaragua to allow the return of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) to enable it to continue its mission, as well as calling on the government of Nicaragua to stop the disproportionate use of force against demonstrators, halt arrests based on laws which criminalise peaceful protest, allow free peaceful demonstrators and re-establish the full respect of due process for all detainees.
The EU and its Member States, including Ireland, call on the government of Nicaragua to act on the findings and recommendations of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) and UNOHCHR, to ensure full accountability for perpetrators of human rights abuses and the disarming and disbanding of armed groups.
I support the EU call on the government of Nicaragua to resume the national dialogue. I believe that inclusive dialogue remains the only way of negotiating a peaceful and democratic resolution to this crisis, and of restoring the trust of the Nicaraguan people in the country’s institutions.
Ireland also supports EU action taken to support international and local initiatives to address the human rights situation, promote a culture of peace, and to provide support to victims of the crisis and their families.
Officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, both in Dublin and in our Embassy in Mexico, which has responsibility for diplomatic relations with Nicaragua, have been monitoring the situation closely. The Deputy Foreign Minister of Nicaragua, Valdrack Jaentschke, was met by officials in my Department on 1 October last and was informed of our strong attachment to the European Union position on Nicaragua. He was also advised of the importance we attach to the establishment of a genuine national reconciliation process. We have been engaging regularly with partner organisations on the ground, and raising the issue at international level where appropriate. Ireland greatly values the work of these partner organisations and will continue to engage with them.