UK markets closed
  • FTSE 100

    6,483.43
    -168.53 (-2.53%)
     
  • FTSE 250

    20,910.37
    -287.75 (-1.36%)
     
  • AIM

    1,183.25
    -8.61 (-0.72%)
     
  • GBP/EUR

    1.1542
    +0.0044 (+0.38%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3940
    -0.0073 (-0.52%)
     
  • BTC-GBP

    33,458.29
    -2,378.83 (-6.64%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    931.76
    -1.37 (-0.15%)
     
  • S&P 500

    3,848.78
    +19.44 (+0.51%)
     
  • DOW

    31,210.48
    -191.53 (-0.61%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    61.60
    -1.93 (-3.04%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    1,729.10
    -46.30 (-2.61%)
     
  • NIKKEI 225

    28,966.01
    -1,202.26 (-3.99%)
     
  • HANG SENG

    28,980.21
    -1,093.96 (-3.64%)
     
  • DAX

    13,786.29
    -93.04 (-0.67%)
     
  • CAC 40

    5,703.22
    -80.67 (-1.39%)
     

Nicaragua congress adopts life sentences; opposition opposes

·2-min read
FILE - In this May 26, 2018 file photo, 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. Nicaragua's ruling party-dominated Congress has passed a law Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, that would essentially ban opposition candidates from running in the 2021 presidential elections, giving President Daniel Ortega the power to unilaterally declare citizens "terrorists" or coup-mongers, classify them as "traitors to the homeland" and ban them from running as candidates. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix, File)

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Nicaragua’s congress gave final approval Monday to change the constitution to permit life imprisonment.

Congress is dominated by President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista party, and opposition legislators voted against the measure or abstained.

Opponents say life sentences could be used against the political opposition, like other recent measures passed by Ortega’s party.

“When there isn't an independent judicial system ... applying sentences like this could be interpreted as a political move to punish any Nicaraguan citizen," said congressman Miguel Rosales of the opposition Liberal Constitutionalist Party.

Ortega has claimed opponents are guilty of “hate crimes,” one of the categories that could be punished by life in prison. In recent months, Ortega’s party has passed laws essentially banning opposition candidates from running in the 2021 presidential election.

Sandinista legislators defended the life sentence measure as providing protection against rapists and killers. The government gathered 3 million signatures supporting the change.

Ortega initially led Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990 following the Sandinista revolution that ousted the Somoza dictatorship. He returned to the presidency in 2007 after three failed election attempts, and he won reelection in 2011. He then sidestepped term limits to get himself reelected in 2016, and packed courts and government agencies with allies. The Sandinista party controls the courts and the legislature.

In October, congress approved legislation mandating prison sentences for those who use online platforms to spread false information or information that could raise alarm among people. The bill raised alarm among opposition and human rights groups, who described it as a threat to free speech.

The Special Cyber Crimes Law establishes prison terms of two to four years for “those who promote or distribute false or misleading information that causes alarm, terror, or unease in the public.” The law allows the government to define what information fits that description.