Ortega-Murillo regime “opens its doors” to international justice with its intervention in the case against Israel

Nicaragua’s intervention before the UN International Court of Justice in the South African-led case against Israel can be used “as a chance” to bring the Ortega-Murillo regime to international justice, according to jurists, human rights experts and political analysts

Daniel Ortega with the list of more than 200 opponents he banished and ordered to be denationalized Photo: Divergentes | Taken from official media

The “Gaza Road” has been part of the historic center of Managua since January 29th. The 2.8 kilometer street, close to the shores of Lake Xolotlán, was renamed – previously known as Dupla Norte – by the Managua mayor’s office in solidarity with Palestinians due to the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In the middle of this road, the regime authorities also inaugurated the “Palestine Park” in “recognition of the resistance and heroism of the people of Palestine”, according to a plaque placed at the site.

The gestures of support for Palestine by the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo have not only been symbolic. On January 23, it asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest UN body, to be authorized to intervene in the case filed by South Africa against Israel for alleged violations of the Genocide Convention during the war in Gaza.

“As a State Party to the Genocide Convention, Nicaragua has the obligation to prevent genocide and to cooperate to that end with the other contracting parties”, according to a press release published by the official media, which states that the request was presented by the Nicaraguan ambassador to the ICJ, Carlos Argüello.

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The war between Israel and Hamas began on October 7 last year, when a Hamas attack resulted in 1200 dead and more than 240 hostages. Following this, the Israeli army launched a heavy offensive on Gaza that has left at least 25,000 dead. A large percentage of the victims have been women and children.

Bringing the regime to international justice

Ortega-Murillo regime
Municipal authorities and national deputies with Palestinian diplomats at the naming ceremony of the Gaza Road. Divergentes | Taken from official media

Jurists and political analysts consulted by DIVERGENTES believe that with this lawsuit, the Ortega-Murillo regime can open the doors for another State to make a similar lawsuit against them for crimes against humanity committed by the dictatorial couple and their repressive operators, documented by organizations such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations (UN) following the protests of 2018.

Experts assess that the regime can be sued in a similar way before bodies such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), due to the accusations of its participation in crimes such as political and religious persecution, assassinations, extrajudicial executions and arbitrary detention, among others. 

“A complaint can be brought before the ICC for the punishable acts that the Ortega dictatorship is undoubtedly committing,” said former OAS advisor Guillermo Belt. “Someone should take the case, for example, of the expatriations that they have committed in recent years,” he added. 

Nicaragua is not a party to the Rome Statute and the ICC has no jurisdiction to intervene.

However, Belt points out that “from a political point of view, it is a good opportunity” to try to rely on international justice to sue for crimes committed by the Nicaraguan regime. 

“There are plenty of grounds to take the regime to the ICC, and that has been raised by some people, but nobody is taking action, nobody is doing it,” Belt said.

A similar action was the investigation opened in Argentina in October 2022, following a complaint by two independent Argentine lawyers. 

The lawyers decided to initiate this process after learning how unlikely it was that the victims would be able to access justice in Nicaragua, and a federal judge opened the investigation.

Argentina’s federal justice system has some experience in investigating crimes against humanity in other countries, such as Franco’s crimes in Spain and the genocide denounced by the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

A month later, based on this investigation, the Inter-American Legal Assistance Center for Human Rights (Calidh) filed a complaint in Argentina against Daniel Ortega, Rosario Murillo and other officials for the crimes perpetrated from April 2018. 

Alternative at the ICJ

justicia internacional
The Palestine Park is located in the center of the Gaza Road in Managua. Divergentes | Taken from official media

Danny Ramírez-Ayérdiz, executive secretary of Calidh, said that the Ortega-Murillo regime could be sued in a similar way to Israel – which relies on the UN Genocide Convention – for crimes committed on Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast. 

“The State of Nicaragua cannot hide the genocides in a systematic way in the Caribbean, and it is getting worse because there is displacement. Genocide is committed on the basis of an ethnic and racial issue. So, I believe that any State can request the same in relation to Nicaragua,” said Ramírez-Ayérdiz.

“Dictatorship has to be held accountable”

Gonzalo Carrión, of the human rights organization Nicaragua Nunca Más, said the regime’s demand against Israel is an expression of cynicism and hypocrisy.

“Those who have to be held accountable are the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship,” Carrion said. “Nevertheless, what is happening in both territories (Israel and Palestine) should be a cause for shock and solidarity,” he added. 

Last February 9, the ICJ formally accepted Nicaragua’s request to intervene in the case that South Africa filed against Israel before the international body for the alleged genocide against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. 

The ICJ recognized that Nicaragua has legitimate legal interests to take part in the hearings, which is in accordance with the rights and obligations established by the Genocide Convention for all member states.

Regime wants to clear its reputation at the international level

justicia internacional
The reason for the naming of the Palestine Park was in “recognition of the resistance and heroism of the people of Palestine”. Divergentes | Taken from official media

Danny Ramírez-Ayérdiz believes that the Ortega-Murillo regime “has no moral authority” because it is advocating for the situation in Gaza, “when crimes against humanity are being committed in Nicaragua”. 

For Ramírez-Ayérdiz, this is a political move by the dictatorship “to clean its image internationally, and for the international community to see that they are the standard bearers of these causes which have a certain acceptance by some countries”. 

Political analyst, Guillermo Belt, believes that Nicaragua’s demand reveals the dictatorship’s cynicism. 

“Ortega is an unconditional supporter of other dictatorships, such as the Russian, Iranian or Chinese dictatorships, and votes in international forums the way these countries vote,” said Belt. 

“The political consequences of this lawsuit are minimal because the political weight that Nicaragua has is minimal, since it suffers from a very great discredit,” he added. 

Belt considers that Nicaragua’s demand adds nothing: “it is only a political gesture to seek sympathy from other dictatorships and international terrorist movements”.

The information we publish in DIVERGENTES comes from contrasted sources. Due to the situation in the region, many times, we are forced to protect them under pseudonymity or anonymity. Unfortunately, some governments in the region, including the Nicaraguan regime, do not provide information or censor independent media. For this reason, despite requesting it, we cannot rely on official, authorized versions. We resort to data analysis, anonymous internal sources, or limited information from the official media. These are the conditions under which we exercise a profession that, in many cases, costs us our safety and our lives. We will continue to report.