German human rights commissioner concerned about Central America

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Germany.

The German government’s human rights commissioner, Luise Amtsberg, has expressed concern about the situation in Nicaragua and El Salvador as she concluded a trip to Central America.

“We are dealing with a region in a state of crisis,’’ Amtsberg said at the end of her visit to Costa Rica, where she met human rights activists from Nicaragua and El Salvador.

“In El Salvador, democratic structures are being systematically dismantled, a state of emergency has been in effect for 16 months and almost two per cent of the population is in prison.

“No one who speaks out against can be sure that they won’t soon face the same fate,’’ Amtsberg said.

In El Salvador, right-wing populist president Nayib Bukele is cracking down on criminal youth gangs.

Nicaragua’s authoritarian head of state, Daniel Ortega, was taking drastic steps to get rid of its opponents.

“In Nicaragua, people are exiled, their possessions and pensions are taken away and their existence is practically erased.

“All places of critical thought are gradually falling victim to this authoritarian policy,’’ said Amtsberg.

Many political refugees find shelter in neighbouring Costa Rica.

“But Costa Rica is reaching its breaking point, we are very clearly at a tipping point here.

“There is still space and protection, but recently there has also been a debate about a more restrictive asylum policy,’’ Amtsberg said.

Germany is also increasingly becoming a place where human rights activists from Russia, Iran or Turkey, for example, can continue their work safely.

A housing project in Costa Rica co-financed by the German government, where human rights activists can find accommodation and receive support, could also be a model for Germany, according to Amtsberg.

“Civil society facilities where activists can rest and make plans are great projects.

“We want people to continue working for the democratisation of the countries they come from,’’ she said shortly before returning to Berlin. 

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