Shoot to Kill: Nicaragua's Strategy to Repress Protest

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President Daniel Ortega has governed Nicaragua for three consecutive terms. His wife, Rosario Murillo, has held the post of vice-president since January 2017.

In recent years, the signs of a deterioration in the human rights situation have been increasingly visible.

On the eve of the 2016 presidential elections, Amnesty International expressed concern that Nicaragua was "very quickly and dangerously slipping back into some of the darkest times the country has seen in decades".Amnesty International has documented the repeated violations of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful protest by the government of President Daniel Ortega prior to the events described in this report.

The continuing violent repression of demonstrations and the harassment of representatives and leaders of campesino (peasant farmer) communities opposed to the Interoceanic Grand Canal mega-project have been repeatedly condemned by both Nicaraguan organizations and Amnesty International.

In response to social protests during April and May 2018, the Nicaraguan government adopted a strategy of violent repression not seen in the country for years. More than 70 people were reportedly killed by the state and hundreds were seriously injured. It is in this context, and with acts of repression continuing to take place in the country at the time of writing, that Amnesty International is publishing this report.

In order to produce this report, Amnesty International undertook a mission in Nicaragua from 4 to 13 May 2018 to research allegations of serious human rights violations. During the mission, a team of experts from the organization visited the cities of Managua, León, Ciudad Sandino and Estelí. This report is based on more than 30 face-to-face interviews; analysis and documentation of 16 cases, including nine fatalities; review of audiovisual material; and analysis of the context in which the repression took place. A team of experts in video and photo analysis and in arms and ammunition were involved in the research. The images that are referred to in this report as potential evidence had previously been analysed and verified by these teams.In order to document the cases cited in this report, interviews were conducted with direct victims of the violence, with victims' relatives and their legal representatives and, in several cases, with medical staff and eyewitnesses. Amnesty International has been given access to the medical records of people who sustained serious injuries, as well as the death certificates and causes of death of all those who died, of the cases detailed in this report. In addition, the organization obtained a copy of the "notifications of withdrawal of complaint" mentioned, as well as of the official complaints lodged with the Attorney General. The organization was able to access audiovisual material relating to all of the people who died whose cases are detailed in this report.