US Sanctions Nicaraguan Judges for Revoking Dissident Citizenship


The US government has imposed sanctions on three Nicaraguan judges for their involvement in the removal of citizenship from hundreds of activists and political dissidents. The move comes amid ongoing allegations of government repression and the silencing of dissent in Nicaragua. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the sanctions, stating that the judges had facilitated the government’s repressive actions and left many individuals stateless. The Nicaraguan government, led by President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, has been criticized by human rights groups and the United Nations for using the judiciary to target political opponents. The US government has pledged to use all available diplomatic and economic tools to hold accountable those responsible for abuses committed by the Ortega-Murillo regime.

In February, Nicaragua released 222 political prisoners who were then sent into exile in the US. Lawmakers subsequently voted to revoke their citizenship, putting them at risk of statelessness. A week later, a Nicaraguan court revoked the citizenship of 94 exiled dissidents, a move condemned as illegal by the UN refugee agency. The US sanctions target judges Nadia Camila Tardencilla Rodriguez, Ernesto Leonel Rodriguez Mejia, and Octavio Ernesto Rothschuh Andino, who were directly responsible for the controversial decision that left many individuals stateless.

Amnesty International released a report on Tuesday stating that the Ortega government has sought to consolidate power through various means, including excessive use of force, unjust criminalization of activists and dissidents, attacks on civil society, and forced exile. The report was released on the fifth anniversary of nationwide protests in Nicaragua in 2018, which saw citizens take to the streets to demonstrate against austerity measures and social security cuts. The government responded with a lethal crackdown that killed hundreds of people.

The report highlights that since the protests, the government has found ways to expand and reinvent patterns of repression and eliminate critical voices from the public sphere. Independent media, civil society groups, and political opponents have been targeted in efforts to silence dissent. The Nicaraguan government also cancelled its approval of the European Union’s ambassador to the country on Tuesday following a statement in which the EU raised concerns about the rule of law in Nicaragua.

The US government’s sanctions against the Nicaraguan judges are part of a wider effort to hold accountable those responsible for human rights abuses and repression. The move sends a clear message that the US will not tolerate such actions and will use all available means to promote accountability and justice. The situation in Nicaragua remains a cause for concern, with ongoing allegations of government repression and human rights abuses. The international community must continue to monitor the situation and take action to support those affected by the Ortega-Murillo regime’s actions.