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Nicaragua joins Cuba, Venezuela on human rights black list

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The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on Thursday put Nicaragua on its human rights black list along with Venezuela and Cuba, the group said.

In its annual report, citing a group of experts' conclusion in December, the IACHR said authorities committed crimes against humanity while cracking down on demonstrators against President Daniel Ortega's government.

The IACHR "has watched closely as Nicaragua's human rights situation continued to worsen, particularly since the start of violence from April 18, 2018, as part of state repression of protests," it said a statement.

Also in the report by the independent body of the Organization of American States, Venezuela and Cuba again were described as countries that did not meet respect for human rights.

Nicaragua has been mired in political crisis since April last year, when a protest initially against a now-scrapped pension reform snowballed into opposition to Ortega's rule.

The 73-year-old former left-wing guerrilla leader has been in power for more than 11 years but alongside his wife Vice President Rosario Murillo, he's been accused of ruling with an iron fist and committing rights abuses.

The deadly unrest has left at least 325 people dead, 2,000 people wounded, and sent 52,000 people into exile, human rights groups say.

Managua was to blame for what the IACHR called arbitrary and excessive use of police force -- use of parapolice groups without the state stopping them.

Ortega has rejected out of hand another key opposition demand that he steps down and brings forward elections slated for 2021.

He has offered to implement electoral reform and release prisoners -- some of whom have been charged with terrorism for taking part in protests against Ortega -- that have yet to be tried.

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