Weekly Report - 16 February 2023 (WR-23-07)

NICARAGUA: Surprise mass prisoner release raises questions

The recent release of 222 political prisoners, who were placed on a flight and deported to the US, has taken the international community by surprise. On the surface it suggested a major shift by the authoritarian government led by President Daniel Ortega which, since 2018, has been cracking down on dissent and dismantling democratic institutions. The prisoners’ release has long been a key demand of the international community which has sanctioned the Ortega administration and applied other diplomatic pressure. But the manner of their release, with their nationality and citizens’ rights revoked, a measure since applied to a further 94 dissidents, amid other repressive actions, suggests rather a doubling down on dissent, putting paid to hopes of a turning point.

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