U.S. Sanctions 23 Nicaraguan Judges and Prosecutors
The U.S. State Department added 23 Nicaraguan judges and prosecutors with close ties to President Daniel Ortega on the list of corrupt actors in Central America, a leaked draft of the “Engel List” says.
said.The list was created to name foreign individuals “who have knowingly engaged in actions that undermine democratic processes or institutions, significant corruption, or obstruction of investigations of such corruption,” the State Department
In the case of Nicaragua, this last U.S. wave of sanction intends to pressure the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to end its crusade against civil society.
While Ortega has shut down more than 1,000 NGOs since late 2018, the 23 sanctioned officials are accused of undermining democratic processes or institutions by exercising prosecutorial discretion to file false charges in order to imprison regime opponents.
These judges and prosecutors were allegedly involved in a wave of judicial persecutions that imprisoned dozens of opposition leaders, paving the way for Ortega’s reelection.
The number of political prisoners has grown in Nicaragua since 2018 - a year that marked the outbreak of deadly clashes between protesters calling for the ousting of Ortega and pro-government forces. Today, there are 190 political prisoners in Nicaragua, according to a study from the Mechanism for the Recognition of Political Prisoners of Nicaragua.
Four out of the 13 sanctioned judges had convicted and sentenced six former presidential candidates on vague, false charges of “undermining national integrity.” All six are still under arrest.
President Joe Biden made this latest move against Nicaragua possible last year when he signed the Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform, or RENACER Act, which called for more sanctions and other punitive measures against the government of Ortega.
Besides being exposed, the 23 Nicaraguan judges and prosecutors will be ineligible for visas and admission to the United States.