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Inter-American Human Rights Court says Nicaragua in contempt

FILE - The Spanish word for "Murderer" covers a mural of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega, as part of anti-government protests demanding his resignation in Managua, Nicaragua, May 26, 2018. The Inter-American Human Rights Court declared the government of Nicaragua in contempt of court Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, for ignoring its rulings on political prisoners. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Inter-American Human Rights Court declared the government of Nicaragua in contempt of court Tuesday for ignoring its rulings on political prisoners.

The court is an arm of the Organization of American States, which Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has pledged to withdraw from.

The court issued several rulings in 2021 and 2022 regarding the fate of 46 Nicaraguans arrested by Ortega's government. The court considers them political prisoners. Human rights groups say there are now a total of 219 political prisoners in Nicaraguan jails, many in ill health as a result.

Nicaragua's government did not bother to send representatives to the court's last session on the issue Nov. 9.

Ortega’s government has moved systematically against all voices of dissent, arresting dozens of opposition leaders and clergy members. Many have been sentenced to prison this year in quick trials closed to the public.

Nicaragua's congress, dominated by Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front, has ordered the closure of more than 1,000 nongovernmental organizations, including Mother Teresa’s charity.

Huge street protests across Nicaragua in 2018 called for Ortega to step down. Ortega maintained the protests were a coup attempt carried out with foreign backing and the support of the church.