The charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is appealing for the release of Nicaraguan bishop Rolando Alvarez Lagos who was sentenced to 26 years in prison in February. The Bishop of Matagalpa was not named among 12 Roman Catholic priests who were released and forced into exile last week, following negotiations between the Vatican and the Nicaraguan government. They had been held as political prisoners and arbitrarily detained on various charges and for varying lengths of time. They are now in exile in Rome.
CSW’s Head of Advocacy Anna Lee Stangl said:
“These developments must not be viewed as gesture of good will on the part of the government. This is part of a concerning trend whereby those who are deemed critical of the government and therefore ‘dangerous’ are faced with an unjust decision of prison or exile. Whilst we welcome the release of the 12 priests who were being held as political prisoners by the Ortega regime, it is unconscionable that they were stripped of their citizenship and forced into exile in exchange for their freedom. We continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of Bishop Álvarez Lagos and that of all other political prisoners. We urge the international community to hold President Ortega and his regime to account for its continued crackdown on independent voices in the country.”
Bishop Alvarez Lagos was placed under house arrest in August 2022 for criticising the government of Daniel Ortega. In February he was stripped of his Nicaraguan nationality and sentenced to 26 years in prison. He is currently being held in the La Modelo Tititapa Prison.