UN condemns Nicaragua: Bishop gone, priests detained

The UN criticized the human rights situation in Nicaragua.

The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Central America strongly condemned the forced disappearance of Bishop Isidoro Mora and the recent string of detentions involving priests in Nicaragua.

They criticized the Nicaraguan government, led by Daniel Ortega, for violating religious freedom, a critical aspect of democratic nations.

Amidst rising tensions between Ortega’s administration and the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, the OHCHR condemned Bishop Isidoro Mora’s disappearance and ongoing detentions of religious leaders. This condemnation was conveyed through social media, raising awareness of these concerning actions.

Nicaragua’s opposition alliance, the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, spoke out against the systematic persecution and criminalization of the Nicaraguan Catholic Church by the Ortega-Murillo regime. They expressed deep concern regarding recent events impacting religious freedom, endangering pastoral and evangelistic efforts.

The Alliance highlighted the arbitrary detentions of religious figures, including bishops Rolando Álvarez and Isidoro Mora, priests Pablo Villafranca, Óscar Escoto, Carlos Avilés, Héctor Treminio, and two seminarians. They demanded respect for their well-being and immediate release, asserting their innocence.

Recognizing the historical role of the Catholic Church in advocating fundamental values of justice and peace in Nicaragua, the Alliance showed solidarity with the Catholic community, standing firmly beside the Nicaraguan Church.

According to Nicaraguan lawyer Martha Patricia Molina, now in exile, authorities are reportedly holding two bishops, six priests, and two seminarians in custody. However, official confirmation or denial of these detentions from Nicaraguan authorities remains absent, except for Bishop Álvarez, who received a prison sentence of 26 years and 4 months.

Tensions between the Sandinista regime and the Catholic Church have heightened, evident in expulsions, imprisonments, restrictions on religious activities, and the severance of diplomatic relations. Notably, 12 priests were released in October and relocated to the Vatican, excluding Bishop Álvarez.

Nicaragua has grappled with a crisis since April 2018, worsened after the November 2021 elections, where Ortega secured another term alongside his wife, Rosario Murillo. Significant opposition figures remain incarcerated.

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