U.S. adds Nicaraguan National Police to export control list, citing human rights

WASHINGTON, March 28 (Reuters) - The U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday added the Nicaraguan National Police to a government export control list after the Biden administration said the police force was engaged in serious human rights abuses in Nicaragua.

Last week, the State Department cited credible reports of arbitrary killings, arrests and torture in Nicaragua, as well as harsh and life-threatening conditions in the country's prisons, in an annual human rights report.

The Commerce Department "Entity List" designation bars companies from selling U.S. technology without a hard-to-obtain permit.

The Commerce Department said it added the police to the list "for engaging in activities contrary to U.S. foreign policy interests."

President Daniel Ortega's administration has been increasingly isolated internationally since his government began cracking down heavily on dissent following street protests that erupted in 2018. Ortega has called the protests an attempted coup against his government.

Nationwide protests against Ortega broke out in 2018, resulting in over 300 deaths, most at the hands of police.

The State Department's 2022 human rights report cited "numerous reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings."

It also criticized the apparent failure of Ortega officials to investigate crimes allegedly committed by police and other security forces related to the anti-government protests, which left at least 355 dead.

During the 2021 presidential election, Ortega's main political challengers were all arrested and a broad assault on dissent was enforced.

Ortega, 76, a former Marxist rebel who helped topple a right-wing dictatorship in the late 1970s, regained power in 2007 and sailed to a fourth term in an election widely slammed as a sham.

Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Chris Reese and Richard Chang

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