General view of the Congress in Managua on October 15, 2020. (Credit: AFP via Getty Images)
(CNN Spanish) -
(CNN Spanish) -
The deputies of the National Assembly approved this Tuesday a legal reform that imposes life imprisonment for those who commit hate crimes.
The reform of article 37 of the Nicaraguan constitution was approved with the favorable vote of 70 deputies from the Sandinista caucus, 15 votes against the opposition deputies and 3 abstentions.
"Exceptionally, a reviewable life sentence will be imposed for the person convicted of serious crimes when there are hateful, cruel, degrading, humiliating and inhuman circumstances that, due to their impact, cause shock, rejection, indignation, disgust in the national community" the reform states to the constitutional article read by Congressman Wilfredo Navarro of the Sandinista caucus before its approval.
Initiative of the ruling party
The initiative had been presented on October 22 by 69 deputies from the ruling party.
The Sandinista deputy María Auxiliadora Martínez expressed in plenary that the reform is produced by the need to adapt the constitutional text to social reality - according to her - in view of the popular clamor for the incorporation of an exceptional penalty for those responsible for committing atrocious crimes.
With the justification of punishing an atrocious crime against two girls that occurred on September 12 in the Mulukukú municipality, three days later President Daniel Ortega proposed the imposition of life imprisonment for those who commit heinous crimes.
During his speech he included opponents of his government as perpetrators of hate crimes.
"They want to continue committing assassinations, planting bombs, causing destruction, more destruction than they caused in April 2018," President Ortega said on September 15.
He said this during the ceremony in salute to the 199th anniversary of the Independence of Central America.
Always referring to the opposition, Ortega said: "They are not Nicaraguans, they are children of the devil and they are full of hatred, they are full of hatred."
Criticisms of the approved reform
For his part, deputy Jimmy Blandón, of the Constitutional Liberal Party, who voted against the reform, told CNN that the constitutional norm is a general framework but what defines its application is the penal code.
This, he says, does not define what are hate crimes.
The definition of this concept, added Blandón, will be made until a second term, in January.
When consulted by CNN, Vilma Núñez, president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, expressed her condemnation and rejection of this constitutional reform.
He defined it as "a tampering with the legal institutions and a desperate effort by the government to keep the population intimidated and afraid."
With the approval of this law, the combo made up of the "Foreign Agents Regulation Law" and the "Special Cybercrimes Law" is completed.
According to the opposition and the European Parliament, these laws violate human rights and democratic institutions.
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“We have clearly rejected the combo of initiatives, including the implementation of life imprisonment, that seek to criminalize and persecute the opposition, critics and journalists.
Enough of violating our Political Constitution ", expressed this Tuesday through its social networks the opposition Blue and White National Unit.
This brings together dozens of expressions and organizations of civil society in Nicaragua.