Nicaragua Debars Defense Lawyer of Bishop Rolando Álvarez

Rolando Álvarez
STR/AFP via Getty Images

The regime of Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega has stripped Bishop Rolando Álvarez’s defense lawyer of her license to practice law in the country in a latest attack on human rights and religious liberty in the country.

Without explanation, Nicaragua’s Supreme Court of Justice has permanently suspended Álvarez’s lawyer, Yonarqui de los Ángeles Martínez García, from practicing law or functioning as a notary public.

This is not the first time that Martínez García has suffered harassment from the Ortega government for her work as a defense lawyer of dissidents critical of the regime. In 2020, the Interamerican Commission for Human Rights (CIDH) filed for injunctive relief for Martínez García, asserting she was being “subjected to harassment, intimidation and threats involving State agents, allegedly related to her work as a defense lawyer for persons identified as ‘politically persecuted.’”

Now Martínez García, who is defending the Bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, who has been sentenced to 26 years in prison, has been ordered to relinquish her professional titles, the protocols of her work, her seal and law credentials.

A poster featuring Bishop Rolando Alvarez and Pope Francis hangs inside the Cathedral in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, Friday, Aug. 19, 2022. Nicaraguan police on Friday raided Alvarez's residence, detaining him and several other priests in an escalation of tensions between the Catholic Church and the government of Daniel Oretga. (AP Photo/Inti Ocon)

A poster featuring Bishop Rolando Alvarez and Pope Francis hangs inside the Cathedral in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, Friday, Aug. 19, 2022.  (AP Photo/Inti Ocon)

The resolution signed by the magistrates of the National Council of Administration and Judicial Service of the Court offers no reasons for the decision.

Local media noted that the resolution was passed a week after the human rights defender published on her Twitter account screenshots of the “arbitrary processes carried out by the Judiciary against some 57 people detained and prosecuted in less than 24 hours.”

One of the most vocal critics of these cases, Martínez has asserted they are “plagued with various violations of due process.”

A group of Christian Lawyers in Spain has launched a petition addressed to the president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Eduardo Ferrer, asking him to guarantee Martínez the practice of law in Nicaragua.

“We cannot allow the dictatorial regime in this country to hinder the right of political prisoners to have a fair defense,” the petition states.


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