“Alarming reversal” of fundamental freedoms in Latin America, according to Human Rights Watch

Latin American countries are facing an “alarming reversal” of fundamental freedoms, according to Human Rights Watch’s “World Report 2022”, released Thursday.

“Even democratically elected leaders have attacked independent civil society, a free press, and judicial independence,” Tamara Taraciuk Broner, acting Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

The 32nd edition of Human Rights Watch’s world report reviewed human rights practices in nearly 100 countries.

According to the report, the Cuban government “continues to suppress and punish virtually all forms of dissent and public criticism.” He mentioned the mass arrests following the historic summer protests and pointed to the case of a 17-year-old woman who said she was subjected to abuse and threats while in custody.

Freelance journalists and artists are “systematically detained”, and intelligence agents show up at critics’ homes, ordering them to stay there for long periods of time, according to the report.

In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega “has dismantled almost all institutional checks on presidential power,” the report says. Ortega was elected to a fourth consecutive term in November after a wave of arrests that included seven presidential candidates and 32 prominent government critics, as well as journalists, lawyers and community leaders.

According to the report, people in Nicaragua are still reeling from massive anti-government protests in 2018 that left 328 people dead, around 2,000 injured and hundreds detained.

In Venezuela, the government and security forces of President Nicolás Maduro “are responsible for extrajudicial executions and short-term enforced disappearances and have imprisoned opponents, prosecuted civilians in military courts, tortured detainees and repressed protesters”. , according to the findings.

The International Criminal Court is investigating “allegations of possible crimes against humanity committed in Venezuela under the watch of Nicolás Maduro,” Human Rights Watch said. In addition, a United Nations fact-finding mission “found that judicial authorities had been complicit in gross abuses”, he said.

In countries where leaders have been democratically elected, some continue to display authoritarian tendencies. Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro “tried to bully the Supreme Court with insults and threats,” Human Rights Watch said.

In Mexico, the government led by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has greatly expanded the reach of the military for civilian purposes, and “the criminal justice system routinely fails to bring justice to victims of violent crimes and human rights violations. man,” according to the report.

The report said authorities still use torture to extract information and confessions, and that thousands of people go missing every year in Mexico, although the government has taken steps to find the missing people.

In El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele replaced Supreme Court justices, and newly appointed justices ruled he could run for consecutive re-election, even though this is constitutionally barred, Human Rights Watch said.

During protests in Colombia, police “repeatedly and arbitrarily dispersed peaceful protests and used excessive, often brutal, force, including live ammunition and gender-based violence,” the report said.

In Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, the report found “serious abuses against protesters” in recent years and a lack of meaningful steps to reform police forces.

Human Rights Watch has found that millions of people have fled their homes in recent years, including more than 6 million Venezuelans, more than 110,000 Nicaraguans, and hundreds of thousands of people from the Northern Triangle of Central America.

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