(CNN Spanish) — The European Parliament condemned this Thursday “in the strongest terms” the repression and arrests of members of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua and demanded their immediate release.
Through a resolution approved with the favorable vote of 538 deputies, 16 against and 28 abstentions, the European Parliament urged the Nicaraguan government to restore full respect for all human rights, including freedom of expression, religion and belief.
The MEPs also demanded the annulment of the judicial procedures imposed on Bishop Rolando Álvarez and the annulment of sentences handed down to other people of what they consider arbitrary detention.
The bishop of Matagalpa and apostolic administrator of Estelí, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, served 43 days under house arrest this Thursday, while four priests, two seminarians and a layman remain in the Directorate of Judicial Assistance under investigation, without there being a formal accusation.
The Police reported that they were being criminally investigated for allegedly inciting hatred and violence with the purpose of destabilizing the State of Nicaragua. According to the most recent report from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a judge extended the detention of the bishop and seven people for 90 days.
The European Parliament lamented what it calls “the continuing deterioration of the situation and the escalation of the repression against the Catholic Church, opposition figures, civil society, human rights defenders, journalists, peasants, students and people from indigenous peoples.” ” and arbitrary detentions “solely for exercising their fundamental freedoms”.
The MEPs also stressed that, in their opinion, the Nicaraguan judicial system lacks independence and, according to them, is used as an instrument to criminalize the exercise of civil and political rights.
The European Parliament expressed concern about the situation of the more than 206 opponents detained since April 2018 and denounced what it considered cruel and inhuman treatment of which they are victims.
The MEPs also denounced the arbitrary closure of various NGOs and the persecution of opposition parties and reiterated their call on the Nicaraguan authorities to repeal the legislation passed since 2018 which, they maintain, unduly restricts civic and democratic space.
According to Parliament, the situation justifies that the United Nations Organization initiate a formal investigation of Nicaragua and President Daniel Ortega through the International Criminal Court for possible crimes against humanity.
Finally, MEPs urge that the democratic clause of the Trade Association Agreement with the European Union be activated.
The government of Daniel Ortega has not officially reacted to this latest resolution of the European Parliament. CNN is trying to get a reaction from national authorities. As Central America’s independence day is celebrated this Thursday, the government will return to its normal work on Monday, September 19, after the national holidays.
During his appearances, President Ortega has stated that his government has limited itself to complying with the laws of the country and that the detained opponents were part of a network that sought to destabilize him.
The Resolution of the European Parliament is approved a few hours after a declaration signed by 45 countries, at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, in which they considered the human rights situation in the Central American country and demanded the release of Monsignor Álvarez and of the arrested opponents.