Human rights experts allege President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, who is his wife, "put into practice these crimes" and call for international legal action against all perpetrators.
Nicaragua's government has committed serious and systematic violations which amount to crimes against humanity, a United Nations-appointed team of human rights experts have alleged in a report, calling for international sanctions against the government.
The three-person body said on Thursday the government has committed, and continues to commit, acts of torture, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detention since 2018.
It named President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, who is his wife, for "putting into practice these crimes" and called for international legal action and sanctions against those involved.
"The objective (of the government) is to eliminate by different means any opposing or dissenting voices in the country," Jan Simon, Chair of the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua, told journalists at a briefing to present the findings, saying the government was "weaponising the functions of the state against the population".
"This has resulted in the Nicaraguan population living in fear," he said.
"These violations and abuses are being perpetrated in a widespread and systematic manner for political reasons, constituting the crimes against humanity of murder, imprisonment, torture, including sexual violence, deportation, and politically motivated persecution."
Nicaragua's diplomatic mission in Geneva did not reply to a request for comment on the report's findings. The group of experts said it sent 12 letters to the government since it began working a year ago as well as the final report but never received a response.
Ortega, now aged 77, first came to power as a leader of the left-wing Sandinista guerrilla movement that toppled the Somoza dictatorship in a 1970s revolution.
He was in and out of office over the years but took power again in 2007 and has ruled since. Human rights groups and the political opposition have long accused his government of severely repressing civic freedoms and his opponents to win elections and keep his grip on the country.
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'Systemic violations and abuses'
The report described a pattern of extrajudicial executions allegedly by security forces and pro-government armed groups acting in a joint and coordinated manner during protests that took place between April 18 and September 23, 2018 in which security forces reportedly killed more than 300 people, insisting the government has "obstructed" investigations regarding these and other deaths.
Asked about the scale of the abuses, the experts said they had documented over 100 cases of executions, hundreds of cases of torture and arbitrary detention, and thousands of cases of political persecution.
Simon said the crisis in Nicaragua risks getting worse and warned of a "humanitarian crisis" ahead.
"We are very concerned with the present situation," he said.
"It is our sincere hope that this report can contribute to preventing the further spiralling of systemic violations and abuses."
"To accelerate the abuses, the authorities have sought the persecution, criminalisation, and elimination of any opposing voice," expert Angela Maria Buitrago said.
"Thousands of human rights defenders, NGO workers, activists, journalists, student leaders, religious figures, and artists, as well as the main national and territorial leaders of the political opposition, were forced to leave the country."
Since December 2018, at least 3,144 civil society organisations have been shut down, while most independent media and human rights groups operate outside of the country.
In February this year, Nicaraguan authorities removed 222 people of their nationality, labelling them as traitors and expelling them from the country. In the same month, a Court of Appeals in Managua named 94 people as traitors, removing their nationality and ordering the confiscation of their assets in favour of the State.
The UN experts called on Nicaraguan authorities to release all the people arbitrarily deprived of their liberties and to cease violations, abuses and crises on political grounds. account.
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