Daniel Ortega, Rosario Murillo and others
Ongoing investigation in Argentina against the current president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega; vice president Rosario Murillo (who is also Ortega’s wife); and fourteen other high-ranking officials for alleged crimes against humanity committed in Nicaragua since 2018
Type of jurisdiction
Ortega, president of Nicaragua (1979-1990, and since 2007); Murillo, vice president of Nicaragua; Francisco Javier Díaz Madriz, chief of the Nicaraguan police; Julio César Avilés Castillo, chief of the armed forces; and twelve other high-ranking officials
Country of residence of suspects
As the case is at the investigation stage, the suspects have not yet been formally charged. The investigation focuses on charges of crimes against humanity, including torture, enforced disappearance, rape and other forms of sexual violence.
On 18 April 2018, a series of reforms to the social security system triggered the outbreak of social protests against the government of Nicaragua. Thousands of people across the country took to the streets on a daily basis to demonstrate. Protesters were repressed by the National Police and its anti-riot forces, with the support of “Sandinista mobs” (turbas sandinistas), pro-government armed groups allegedly used to generate disorder and quash protesters.
According to a report of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, at least 355 people died, including 27 children, and 2’000 were injured. Health professionals were reportedly ordered not to treat people injured as a result of their participation in the mobilizations, and those who disregarded this order were allegedly dismissed. In addition, more than 1’614 were allegedly imprisoned; hundreds of health professionals, journalists, teachers and students were fired or expelled; and over 100’000 people fled Nicaragua.
Since 2018, and in particular due to the 2021 disputed elections in which Ortega was re-elected for a fourth consecutive term, Ortega’s government allegedly intensified the persecution of its political opponents. Thousands have been reportedly detained and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, including presidential aspirants, public figures, former workers of civil society organizations and church representatives.
In September 2022, two lawyers filed a complaint against President Ortega, Vice President Murillo and other high-ranking Nicaraguan officials for the crimes against humanity of enforced disappearances, torture, murder and deprivation of liberty among others committed since 2018. The complaint alleges that the highest political command has ordered a systematic attack against the civilian population.
In October 2022, an investigation was opened under universal jurisdiction into crimes against humanity.
As a first investigative measure, the Argentinian prosecuting authorities sent a rogatory letter to Nicaragua to ask whether it was already investigating and prosecuting those crimes. All the international organizations’ public reports regarding the crush of protesters were added to the investigation file, including reports of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations Human Rights Council, Amnesty International, the Center for Legal and Social Studies, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights and the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts for Nicaragua.
A second complaint was added in early November 2022 by the Argentina-based NGO Center for Inter-American Legal Assistance in Human Rights (Centro de Asistencia Legal Interamericano en Derechos Humanos).