The Nicaraguan authorities must urgently launch a full, independent and impartial investigation into fatal clashes that broke out this week in the aftermath of a disputed presidential election on Sunday.
At least four people have died and scores were injured amid confrontations across the country between supporters and opponents of Daniel Ortega, who was re-elected to a third term in the presidency with a reported 61 per cent of the vote.
“Nicaragua's political institutions are in the spotlight. The authorities must respond to this fatal violence with a thorough investigation into the circumstances around the killings and casualties,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Americas Deputy Programme Director at Amnesty International.
“This must be carried out promptly by a competent, impartial body, and those found responsible must be brought to justice swiftly.”
The four confirmed fatalities were all as a result of bullet wounds. Those killed include a political secretary for Ortega's Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) party in the northern town of Siuna, as well as three supporters of the opposition Independent Liberal Party (PLI) in San José de Cusmapa, in north-western Nicaragua.
A police commissioner has told media that seven police officers were among those injured in the Siuna clashes.
After the electoral authority announced Ortega's victory on Tuesday, crowds took to the streets to protest across the country, including in the capital Managua.
On Thursday a group of around 30 youth activists from the Nicaragua 2.0 movement were taking part in an anti-Ortega demonstration outside the University of Central America in Managua when they were allegedly threatened and attacked by FSLN youth supporters. Police officers present at the scene reportedly did not intervene to prevent the attacks.
“Incidents like the one outside the university are worrying. Action must be taken to ensure the right of all Nicaraguans to peacefully demonstrate is upheld,” said Guadalupe Marengo.
Earlier this year, an Amnesty International delegation visited Nicaragua and met candidates running for office in the presidential and congressional elections. The organization urged the new leaders to espouse an effective human rights plan for Nicaragua.
“The deadly clashes that broke out after this week's disputed election result are just another indicator of the worrying human rights situation in Nicaragua,” said Guadalupe Marengo.
“Nicaragua's new government must commit itself to drawing up and implementing a firm plan aimed at achieving real results to improve and protect human rights for all in Nicaragua.”