Nicaragua frees 56 imprisoned protest leaders under new amnesty law

June 11, 2019

MANAGUA (Reuters) – Nicaragua said on Tuesday it had released 56 political prisoners under a new law that frees people who were arrested in recent anti-government protests, while protecting police and others who violently clamped down on the demonstrations.

The release of the 56 opposition leaders follows Monday’s release of 50 rank-and-file protesters by the administration of President Daniel Ortega.

Nicaragua’s opposition has made the release of political prisoners a condition of dialogue with the administration.

Under the amnesty law, former prisoners are banned from participating in more anti-government protests.

The United Nations’ top human rights official, as well as local opposition groups, have blasted the legislation as a way to grant impunity to those who committed abuses during the violent crackdowns.

The law gives protection to “people who have not been investigated, who find themselves under investigation” or those “complying with their sentences,” according to the text of the legislation, which was approved by Congress on Saturday.

The Central American country is experiencing its worst political crisis since a bloody civil war in the 1980s.

More than 700 people were arrested in demonstrations and 325 mostly opposition protesters died in clashes with security forces, while over 60,000 Nicaraguans have gone into exile due to political strife over the last 14 months, rights groups say.

(Reporting by Ismael Lopez, writing by Hugh Bronstein, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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