Inter-American human rights court finds Nicaragua in contempt

A mural of a man with dark hair and mustache is marked with graffiti-like lettering
A mural of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is tagged with the Spanish word for “murderer” as part of antigovernment protests demanding his resignation in Managua, the capital, in 2018.
(Esteban Felix / Associated Press)

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights declared the government of Nicaragua in contempt of court Tuesday for ignoring its rulings on political prisoners.

The court is an arm of the Organization of American States, from which Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has pledged to withdraw his nation.

The court issued several rulings in 2021 and 2022 regarding the fate of 46 Nicaraguans arrested by Ortega’s government. The court considers them political prisoners. Human rights groups say a total of 219 political prisoners are in Nicaraguan jails, many in ill health as a result.


Nicaragua’s government did not bother to send representatives to the court’s last session on the issue Nov. 9.

Ortega’s government has moved systematically against all voices of dissent, arresting dozens of opposition leaders and clergy members. Many have been sentenced to prison this year in quick trials closed to the public.

Nicaragua’s congress, dominated by Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front, has ordered the closure of more than 1,000 nongovernmental organizations, including the late Mother Teresa’s charity.

Huge street protests across Nicaragua in 2018 called for Ortega to step down. He maintained the protests were a coup attempt carried out with foreign backing and the support of the church.