STATEMENT: We condemn the death of Eddy Montes, a Nicaraguan political prisoner

Washington, D.C. May 17, 2019. Mr. Eddy Antonio Montes Praslin, a political prisoner of the Nicaraguan Government who was in the custody of the Jorge Navarro prison authorities (better known as “La Modelo”), died yesterday of a gunshot wound inflicted by a prison guard.

The Nicaraguan Minister of the Interior, Luis Cañas, said that Montes Praslin, 57, died at 16:05 hours “while he was being attended by emergency medical personnel who performed a resuscitation procedure.”

According to the official version, the prison guard fired a shot in self-defense after Montes Praslin “rushed the penitentiary staff at the security zone,” struggling with one of the guards “with clear intentions of taking his police weapon and menacing the life of the officials.”

However, the version of other political prisoners documented by local media is that it was an operation in which officials opened fire on several inmates who were in Gallery 16 of “La Modelo.” Unofficial sources have stated that between 17 and 33 prisoners were injured as a result of the attack. We recall that Nicaragua has been immersed for a year now in a context of serious violations of human rights and impunity.

Mr. Montes had been in prison since October 2018 and was charged with crimes he allegedly committed in the context of the April protests. In a disproportionate response, the Seventh Judge of the Hearing, Abelardo Alvir Ramos, ordered pretrial detention without bringing him before judicial authorities within the time required by law. There were also other violations of due process, such as the fact that his case was taken away from the judge that should have had jurisdiction, his presumption of innocence was violated, and the privacy of the process was not respected. The trial, held in the Seventh Criminal District Court of Managua by Judge Melvin Leopoldo Vargas García, was scheduled to begin on May 13 but was rescheduled.

Race and Equality expresses its strong condemnation of the serious human rights violations committed by prison guards yesterday at the Jorge Navarro prison against the right to life, the most fundamental of human rights. This tragic incident demonstrates how the life and personal integrity of political prisoners are at a high risk.

We recall that in relation to persons deprived of liberty, the State has the position of guarantor, in such a way that it is obliged to respect and guarantee the rights of persons deprived of liberty when they are subject to the effective control of the State. This has been emphasized by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), for two decades now.  In its Special Report on the Situation of Human Rights in the Challapalca Prison, the IACHR asserted that the State, by depriving a person of their liberty, is placed in a position of guarantor of his or her life and physical integrity.

Therefore, we demand that the facts denounced here, as well as the other acts committed against the political prisoners who were also wounded yesterday are investigated in an independent and exhaustive manner and that those responsible for the death of Mr. Eddy Montes and wounding of other political prisoners are punished.

We urge the State to take all preventive measures so that events such as those reported here do not recur and we demand the immediate release of all persons deprived of liberty in the context of the April protests.

 

Main photo: EFE

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