EU Parliament Condemns Repression of Catholic Church in Nicaragua and Calls for Release of Bishop - FULL TEXT

Nicaragua and the arrest of the Bishop Rolando Álvarez

Parliament condemns in the strongest possible terms the escalating repression against the Catholic Church, opposition figures, civil society, human rights defenders, journalists, peasants, students and indigenous people in Nicaragua. MEPs point in particular to the arbitrary arrest of Bishop Rolando Álvarez, and call for his and others' immediate and unconditional release and the annulment of all legal proceedings against them.

(SEE 1:50 Mark on Video below)

Nicaragua's judicial system lacks independence, according to MEPs, and the law is used as a tool to criminalise the exercise of civil and political rights. Parliament is concerned about the 206 political prisoners in the country, deplores the arbitrary closure of another hundred NGOs, and condemns the banning of opposition political parties.

MEPs strongly urge Nicaragua to repeal legislation that unduly restricts the country's civic and democratic space and they ask the EU to continue supporting civil society organizations there. Parliament wants the EU and the UN Security Council to open a formal investigation into Nicaragua and its president, Daniel Ortega, for crimes against humanity.

The resolution was adopted by 538 votes in favour, 16 against with 28 abstentions. For further details, the full version will be available below: (15.09.2022).

European Parliament



Nicaragua, in particular the arrest of the bishop Rolando Álvarez 


European Parliament resolution of 15 September 2022 on Nicaragua, in particular the arrest of the bishop Rolando Álvarez (2022/2827(RSP))

The European Parliament,

having regard to its previous resolutions on Nicaragua, in particular those of 16 December 2021 on the situation in Nicaragua and 9 June 2022 on the instrumentalisation of justice as a repressive tool in Nicaragua,

having regard to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular Article 18 thereof on freedom of opinion and expression, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Article 10 thereof on freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the American Convention on Human Rights, in particular Article 12 thereof on freedom of conscience and religion,

having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules),

having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2019/1720 of 14 October 2019 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Nicaragua,

having regard to the statement by the Spokesperson of the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) of 14 March 2022 on the sentencing of political prisoners,

having regard to the statement by the Spokesperson of the UN Human Rights Office of 9 May 2022 on Nicaragua’s crackdown on civil society and to the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 24 February 2022 on the situation of human rights in Nicaragua and the statement of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights before the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council on 7 March 2022,

having regard to UN Human Rights Council Resolution No 49/3 of 31 March 2022 on the promotion and protection of human rights in Nicaragua,

having regard to the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and Central America on the other (Association Agreement between the EU and Central America),

having regard to Rules 144(5) and 132(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas on 19 August 2022, the Nicaraguan national police forcibly raided the episcopal curia of Matagalpa to arbitrarily arrest Bishop Rolando Álvarez after a twoweek stand-off, along with five priests, two seminarians and one cameraman, who are now imprisoned in El Chipote prison; whereas Bishop Álvarez played an important role as a mediator in the 2018 National Dialogue and has constantly called for peaceful and reasoned dialogue in Nicaragua, criticising the closure of seven Catholic media radio stations operated by the diocese of Matagalpa on 1 August 2022;

B. whereas the police statement did not offer a reason for the arrests, but said they were a part of an investigation launched on 5 August 2022 into ‘destabilising and provocative’ activities in the country; whereas the police later confirmed that ‘legal inquiries’ were under way; whereas hours later, Nicaragua’s Vice-President Rosario Murillo claimed in a speech that the police had been re-establishing order in Matagalpa and the bishop’s arrest was ‘necessary’;

C. whereas the Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua, Monsignor Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag, was expelled in March 2022, Padre Manuel Salvador García was detained in June 2022, the Missionaries of Charity Association of the Order of St Teresa of Calcutta was declared illegal and expelled in July 2022, and the national police reportedly banned religious processions scheduled for 13 and 14 August 2022; whereas five other priests, Uriel Vallejos, Vicente Martínez, Sebastián López, Mangel Hernández and Dani García, went into exile as a result of the arrest of Bishop Álvarez; whereas Bishop Silvio Báez underwent forced exile in 2019 following death threats recognised by the Vatican; whereas on 1 September 2022, the Nicaraguan authorities sentenced monsignor Leonardo José Urbina Rodríguez to 30 years in prison; whereas these are but a few examples of acts of repression targeting members of the Roman Catholic Church in Nicaragua;

D. whereas since 2018, the Nicaraguan regime has carried out systematic and repeated incarceration, harassment and intimidation of presidential pre-candidates, opposition leaders and religious leaders – notably from the Roman Catholic Church – as well as student and rural leaders, journalists, human rights defenders, civil society organisations, LGBTI persons and business representatives;

E. whereas since then, a framework of state repression has been installed in Nicaragua, characterised by systemic impunity for human rights violations, a deterioration of the institutions and the rule of law, and connivance between the powers of the executive and the judiciary;

F. whereas attacks on freedom of expression, conscience and religion have intensified and whereas threats by the public prosecutor’s office against several journalists, human rights defenders as critics of the regime and members of the Roman Catholic Church – due to their mediation efforts in the national talks of 2018 and their denunciations of the human rights violations committed in the context of Nicaragua’s ongoing crisis – have prompted many of them to leave Nicaragua to seek protection;

G. whereas as has been made clear by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Council’s special procedure mandate holders, those imprisoned were detained on grounds incompatible with international human rights standards and the Nicaraguan Constitution;

H. whereas the closure of the Catholic radio stations and two more community radio and TV stations shortly thereafter, through an excessive use of force, are the last in a long list of more than 1 700 civil society organisations and at least 40 women’s organisations, several political parties, media associations and universities being attacked by the Nicaraguan regime;

I. whereas this year the Nicaraguan regime has authorised Russian military presence in the country, which is clear evidence of the strong relationship and common support between Ortega-Murillo and Putin’s regime;

1. Condemns in the strongest possible terms the repression and arrests of members of the Roman Catholic Church in Nicaragua, in particular the arrest of Bishop Rolando Álvarez; urges the Nicaraguan regime to immediately end the repression and restore full respect for all human rights, including freedom of expression, religion and belief; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those arbitrarily detained, including Bishop Álvarez and those detained alongside him, and for all legal proceedings against them to be annulled, including their sentences;

2. Deplores and strongly condemns the continuous deterioration of the situation in Nicaragua and the escalation in the repression against the Catholic Church, opposition figures, civil society, human rights defenders, journalists, peasants, students and indigenous people among other actors, as well as their arbitrary detention for solely exercising their fundamental freedoms, their inhumane and degrading treatment and their deteriorating health conditions;

3. Condemns the abusive detention, the lack of trial guarantees and the illegal convictions of political prisoners that have been taking place in Nicaragua; stresses that the judicial system lacks independence from the executive branch; expresses concern about the manipulation of criminal law and the use of the justice system as a tool to criminalise the exercise of civil and political rights;

4. Expresses its concern over the worsening situation of the more than 206 political prisoners detained in Nicaragua since April 2018, according to the Special Follow-up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI), and calls for their immediate release, for the annulment of the legal proceedings against them, and for all refugees and exiles to be allowed to return safely to their homes; urges the Nicaraguan regime to put an end to the use of cruel and inhumane treatment and to respect the physical integrity, dignity, liberty and right to access medical care of those imprisoned, as well as their families; holds the regime responsible for ensuring that the conditions of detention are in compliance with its international human rights legal obligations and standards such as the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners;

5. Deplores the fact that a further 100 NGOs were shut down on 7 September 2022, bringing the total of NGOs closed in Nicaragua to 1 850 this year; calls on the Nicaraguan regime to stop arbitrarily closing NGOs and civil society organisations and to restore the legal charter to all organisations, political parties, religious organisations, media associations and outlets, universities and human rights organisations that have been shut down arbitrarily, as well as to return all property, assets, documents and equipment that were unduly seized and to re-establish their legitimate legal status;

6. Condemns the cancellation of the opposition political parties and the lack of freedom to organise and participate in the municipal elections of 6 November 2022; urges the restoration of the legitimate administrations in the jurisdictions of El Cuá, San Sebastián de Yalí, Santa María de Pantasma, Murra and El Almendro;

7. Strongly urges Nicaragua to repeal legislation passed since 2018 that unduly restricts civic and democratic space; reiterates its call for the EU to continue to support civil society organisations, human rights defenders and the relatives of political prisoners both in Nicaragua and in exile, including the priests Uriel Vallejos, Vicente Martínez, Sebastián López, Mangel Hernández and Dani García among others;

8. Highlights the key role played by civil society, human rights defenders, journalists and members of the Roman Catholic Church in Nicaragua;

9. Calls on the Nicaraguan regime to urgently allow international organisations to return to the country, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in order to monitor the human rights situation in the country;

10. Calls on the Nicaraguan regime to implement UN Human Rights Council Resolution No 49/3, which establishes, for a period of one year, a group of human rights experts to oversee credible, impartial and exhaustive investigations, preserve evidence and ensure accountability for the serious violations that have occurred since 2018; calls on the Nicaraguan institutions to ensure that impunity does not persist with respect to the serious human rights violations and abuses that have occurred, providing victims with access to justice and full reparation;

11. Calls on Nicaragua to initiate an inclusive national dialogue to ensure a peaceful and democratic solution to the political, social and human rights crisis;

12. Calls for the EU to continue prioritising, through its external action and dialogue, the promotion of democracy, the rule of law, equality and media freedom, and to work with the international community to defend dialogue, democracy and human rights in Nicaragua; asks the EU Delegation in Nicaragua to closely monitor developments in the country, including monitoring trials and visiting opposition leaders and government critics in prison or under house arrest; calls on the Commission to ensure that its cooperation assistance enhances support for civil society, notably human rights defenders, and that it does not contribute in any way to the repressive policies currently being pursued by the Nicaraguan authorities;

13. Recalls that in the light of the Association Agreement between the EU and Central America, Nicaragua must respect and consolidate the principles of the rule of law, democracy and human rights, specifically with regard to the provisions outlined in Title I; reiterates its demand that, in the light of the current circumstances, the democratic clause of the Association Agreement be triggered;

14. Reiterates its call for the Nicaraguan judges and prosecutors to be swiftly included on the list of individuals sanctioned by the EU and for the list of sanctioned individuals and entities to be expanded to include Daniel Ortega and his inner circle;

15. Calls on the EU Member States and the UN Security Council, in accordance with Articles 13 and 14 of the Rome Statute, to open a formal investigation through the International Criminal Court into Nicaragua and Daniel Ortega for crimes against humanity;

16. Reiterates its call for the immediate extradition of Alessio Casimirri to Italy;

17. Asks its Conference of Presidents to authorise the dispatching of a fact-finding mission to monitor the situation in Nicaragua;

18. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States, the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly, the Central American Parliament, the Lima Group, the Vatican and the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Nicaragua.

Press Release Source: