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Human rights body demands Nicaragua release political prisoners

The Organization of American States’ (OAS) human rights arm on Friday called on Nicaragua to “immediately free” opposition figures detained in a wave of political repression.

At least seven presidential hopefuls are among 31 people detained since early June, having been accused of “treason” and threatening the country’s “sovereignty.”

They were taken into custody under a controversial law approved by parliament in December that critics say was designed to silence opponents and disqualify potential challengers to President Daniel Ortega in November’s elections.

The Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) said on Twitter it “urges the Nicaraguan State to end the harassment of opposition figures, including (human rights) defenders, as well as to immediately free those detained arbitrarily.”

Antonia Urrejola, the president of a local human rights organization in Nicaragua, was the latest person detained by authorities on Thursday for “undermining sovereignty.”

Last month, Urrejola told the OAS that Nicaragua was entering “a new phase of repression.”

The same day — June 23 — the IACHR called on its judicial counterpart, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in Costa Rica, to protect four detained opposition politicians it said were facing “a situation of extreme risk.”

The court’s decisions are binding for OAS member states, including Nicaragua.

Ortega’s government accused the opposition at the OAS of being “mercenaries” who were selling out their homeland with the support of the United States.

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