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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

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In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                  

Republic of Nicaragua

The 2018 antigovernment protest movement was met with violent repression by police and informally allied armed forces, resulting in the deaths of at least 325 people. In an August 2018 report on repression of the protest movement, the OHCHR detailed severe abuses including psychological and physical torture of detainees, including sexual violence, forced confessions, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings.  [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Nicaragua

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Nicaragua.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nicaragua

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 29 July 2021]


Although the law prohibits such practices, cases of torture were well documented, and public officials intentionally carried out acts that resulted in severe physical or mental suffering for the purposes of securing information, inflicting punishment, and psychologically deterring other citizens from reporting on the government’s actions or participating in civic actions against the government. Members of civil society and student leaders involved in the protests that began in April 2018 were more likely than members of other groups to be subjected to such treatment.

On March 8, police captured Melvin Urbina in Posoltega. When the police released him on March 10, Urbina was unable to walk and badly bruised in his eyes, ears, legs, back, and abdomen. He was taken to a hospital and died on March 12. Urbina’s family reported police surveilled Urbina’s wake and burial and at one point attempted to take the body to perform a forensics analysis. Human rights groups documented several cases of government supporters who tortured opposition activists by using sharp objects to carve the letters “FSLN” into the arms and legs of opposition activists.

Local human rights organizations said men and women political prisoners were subjected to sexual violence while in the custody of security forces. Human rights organizations reported female prisoners were regularly subjected to strip searches, degrading treatment, and rape threats while in custody of parapolice forces, prison officials, and police. Prison officials forced female prisoners to squat naked and beat them on their genitals to dislodge any supposed hidden items.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


The 2018 antigovernment protest movement was met with violent repression by police and informally allied armed forces, resulting in the deaths of at least 325 people. In an August 2018 report on repression of the protest movement, the OHCHR detailed severe abuses including psychological and physical torture of detainees, including sexual violence, forced confessions, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. In 2019 there were reports of dozens of antigovernment activists being killed in more remote parts of the country, allegedly by police and paramilitaries. Additionally, in May, Eddy Montes Praslin, who was reportedly jailed in October 2018 after complaining to police that progovernment activists were occupying his property, was shot and killed at La Modelo prison near Managua. News of his death prompted the opposition Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy to withdraw from a dialogue with the government until authorities released individuals designated as political prisoners by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The dialogue ended in August when the government formally canceled it.

Freed Nicaraguan prisoner tells of torture

Agence France-Presse AFP, 23 April 2019

[accessed 13 May 2019]

One Nicaraguan guard pinned his hand to a table with his knee while another ripped out a nail with a pair of pliers. Opposition supporter Lenin Rojas, recently released from prison to house arrest, says he screamed in pain.

The 36-year-old says his cry was heard throughout the El Chipote prison in Nicaragua’s capital, Managua.

But his torturers weren’t finished.

“They started hitting me again. They left me almost unconscious, they put me back in that same position, and ripped out two more nails,” said the father of four, showing his mutilated fingers.

“The beatings got ever more brutal to the point that I asked them to kill me, to put a bullet in me, rather than continuing to torture me.

“They were annoyed at not getting a reply to their questions… an inspector said they were going to throw all of us — the arrested demonstrators — into the crater of the Masaya volcano.”

That’s an active volcano 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Managua. It emits huge amounts of sulphur dioxide.

In Nicaragua, Torture Is Used to Feed ‘Fake News’

Charles Davis, Daily Beast, 4 October 2018

[accessed 4 October 2018]

A gun was pointed at her head, one of her comrades was on his knees threatened with execution, and Dania Valeska Alemán Sandoval told her interrogators what they wanted to hear.

Nicaragua’s Chief of Torture Center Promoted

José Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director, Americas Division, Human Rights Watch HRW, 11 September 2018

[accessed 12 September 2018]

Pérez Oliva directs the "El Chipote" detention center, the "main place" where authorities perpetrate egregious abuses against anti-government demonstrators, according to a recent report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The human rights body documented allegations of rape, electrocution, lacerations with barbed wire, beatings with steel tubes and strangulation – among others – against protestors across the country. Hundreds have been detained in El Chipote since the crackdown on dissent began in April 2018.

Human Rights Watch obtained testimony of two cases where El Chipote authorities repeatedly refused to comply with court orders to provide medical attention to detainees or allow a judge to verify the detention conditions. News reports and testimony obtained by Human Rights Watch indicate detainees have been forced to record confessions incriminating themselves or other protestors to obtain release. 

In one case, El Chipote authorities refused to disclose the whereabouts of four activists for several days after police took them into custody. OHCHR considered this a case of enforced disappearance. Two male activists were beaten and forced to hold straining positions for several hours and a female activist was forced to remain in her underwear, relatives said. The four activists were accused of crimes including terrorism; they remain in detention in another facility.

UN condemns Nicaragua government 'repression and torture'

BBC, 29 August 2018

[accessed 3 September 2018]

WHAT ALLEGEDLY HAPPENED IN DETENTION? - The UN Human Rights Office says that it has received numerous accounts alleging acts of torture and ill-treatment of detainees carried out by police or prison authorities.

It says that there are indications that some detainees were burned with Taser guns or cigarettes.

Female detainees alleged that they were raped and that threats of sexual abuse were "common". Male detainees reported being raped with rifles and other objects, the report says.

WHAT DOES THE NICARAGUAN GOVERNMENT SAY? - It has strongly rejected the report and says that it has ignored the violence aimed at overthrowing the democratically elected government.

The government statement denies there have been any documented cases of torture or sexual assault and states that all detentions were carried out in accordance with the law.

The government also argues that the killings of the 22 police officers prove that the anti-government demonstrations had not been peaceful.

Nicaraguan protester recounts gruesome torture amid widespread violence

Lisa Riordan Seville, Grace Gonzalez and Belisa Morillo, NBC News, 22 July 2018

[accessed 23 July 2018]

[accessed 9 January 2019]

For eight days, night and day bled together as Marco Novoa, 25, lay on the muddy floor of his cell. First he was beaten, the Nicaraguan protester said, then stripped and electrocuted. Bones in his feet were broken under the butt of automatic weapons. But he said his torturers, who he believes were men aligned with the repressive government in Nicaragua, did not stop there. When they did not get the answers they sought, he said, they waterboarded and sodomized him.

“They destroyed me completely,” he told NBC News and Noticias Telemundo Investiga in an exclusive interview. “But the thing I was most afraid of was that my body wouldn’t be returned to the arms of my mother and father.”

Told at times in painful detail, Novoa’s story offers a window into the brutality of the government crackdown against protests that have convulsed Nicaragua. Since April, the government has taken an iron-fist approach to street marches held against an overhaul to the country's social security system.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/NIC/CO/1 (2009)

[accessed 15 Aug  2013]

Arbitrary detention

20. The Committee shares the concern expressed in the report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (A/HRC/4/40/Add.3) regarding the lack of effective, clear and systematic registers in police stations that would make it possible to establish with clarity and certainty when detainees have entered and left police stations, before which authorities they have been brought and where, and which of the competent authorities is currently responsible for them (arts. 2, 11 and 16).

The State party must arrange for substantial improvements in the system of registers kept in its police stations. These registers should make it possible to accurately determine, inter alia: the situation of all detainees, including the date and time of their arrest; the police officers responsible for taking them into custody; the date and time on which the Office of the Public Prosecutor, the detainees’ families and their defending counsel were notified of their arrest; the date and time on which they were physically brought before a judge; and the date and time on which they left the police station and the authority into whose charge they were handed.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

ARBITRARY DETENTION, TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT - Human rights organizations reported that PLC supporters were arrested by the police and ill-treated in custody. Detainees reported being beaten, and women and girl detainees said that they were forced to remove their clothes in front of male officers, who humiliated them and threatened them with sexual violence


Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 4   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 6 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

The judiciary remains dominated by FSLN and PLC appointees. Many judges are susceptible to political influence and corruption, and the courts suffer from long delays and a large backlog of cases. There is only one public defender available for every 60,557 people in Nicaragua, and access to justice is especially deficient in rural areas and on the Caribbean coast.

Forced confessions to the police remain a problem, as do arbitrary arrests. Insufficient funding of the police affects performance and has led to a shortage of officers. Prison conditions continue to be poor, and the facilities are underfunded.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 6 February 2013]

[accessed 4 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – Although the law prohibits such practices, there were credible reports that some police physically mistreated detainees, particularly to obtain confessions. The IG's office reported receiving 480 complaints of human rights violations by police officers during the first half of the year, including unlawful killings (see section 1.a.) and complaints forwarded by the Office of Civil Inspection for Professional Responsibility; the IG's Office found that 126 complaints had merit. The IG's office punished 204 officers for violating human rights. As a result, police discharged three officers dishonorably, remanded six to the courts on both human rights and corruption charges, and gave the rest lesser punishments, including demotion, suspension, and loss of pay.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Nicaragua",, [accessed <date>]