The Nicaraguan government launched a crackdown on the opposition parties, arresting five presidential candidates and several other leaders in recent weeks.
The repression against Nicaraguan opposition leaders and figures has been increasing as the National Police detained a fifth presidential candidate on Sunday, bringing the number of arrested opposition leaders to 15 ahead of the general election in November.
Presidential candidate Miguel Mora Barberena, from the Democratic Restoration Party (PRD), was detained on the charges of violating Law 1055, which criminalises anyone who opposes President Daniel Ortega’s undemocratic regime.
Law 1055 was legislated last December to classify "traitors to the homeland" and disqualifies them from running for a public office.
Mora, journalist and owner of Noticias TV channel, was also accused of threatening national security by participating in anti-government demonstrations. The government shut down his television channel as well.
Since the beginning of June, Mora is the fifth presidential candidate who has been detained.
Journalist Cristiana Chamorro has been under house arrest since June 2.
Former diplomat Arturo Cruz was arrested on June 5 along with political scientist Felix Maradiaga and economist Juan Sebastian Chamorro.
Apart from arresting presidential candidates, at least nine high-profile political figures were also picked up on frivolous charges. Human rights groups say these detentions are part of a broader strategy to eliminate political competition and pave the way for Ortega's re-election to the fourth consecutive term.
“The gravity and intensification of the Ortega government’s brutal crackdown on critics and members of the opposition in recent weeks requires a redoubling of international pressure,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.
“It is essential for the UN secretary-general to build on existing UN action by bringing this situation to the attention of the Security Council,” Vivanco added.
President Ortega closely controls the security forces as chief of the National Police Francisco Díaz is a brother-in-law of him.
The repressive Ortega regime creates political problems for the regional countries too.
Since the brutal crackdown against nationwide anti-government protests in 2018, more than a hundred thousand Nicaraguans have been forced to flee their country while most of them sought refuge in neighboring Costa Rica.
Argentina and Mexico recalled their ambassadors to Nicaragua on Monday to discuss the concerning situation within the country, according to a joint statement.
Nicaragua had carried out "concerning" actions "that have put the wellbeing and freedom of various opposition figures (including presidential pre-candidates), activists and Nicaraguan businessmen at risk," the statement said.
The US President Joe Biden's administration imposed sanctions on Ortega's daughter and three of the Nicaraguan leader's allies and has said it is prepared to review "trade-related activities" with the country if its coming elections are not free and fair.
The UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric called on “the authorities to release the political leaders and reinstitute their political rights.”
Furthermore, two journalists, Miguel Mendoza and Carlos Fernando Chamorro have been arrested for carrying out acts that "undermine independence, sovereignty, and self-determination, incite foreign interference in internal affairs, request military interventions, organise with financing from foreign powers to carry out acts of terrorism and destabilisation."