Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has reported a rise in the number of Roman Catholic priests and faith-based organisations being targeted by the Nicaraguan government.
The Nicaraguan National Assembly has approved a report, which proposes several changes to the Penal Code, seeking to employ tougher measures against religious leaders and those seen to be critical of the government.
Throughout the month of May, CSW recorded human rights violations against three Roman Catholic priests, including the harassment of Monseñor Rolando Álvarez, Father Harving Salvador Padilla González and Father Uriel Vallejos by the National Police.
CSW has also received reports of churchgoers being prevented from attending religious services, and of church services and special celebrations being surrounded or arbitrarily cancelled by police
CSW's Grace (whose identity remains anonymous) is the Latin American Advocacy Officer and told Premier when the attacks started: "It really kind of kicked off back in April 2018.
“The government modified the pension system for the elderly and this just prompted a series of demonstrations throughout the country against the government and the protests were met with really quite brutal repression.
“The repression is being are called crimes against humanity, it’s quite severe.
"Religious leaders have been targeted, as have journalists, human rights defenders, a number of faith based organisations and other civil society organisations.
"Basically, anyone seen as opposition to the government, anyone seemed to be critical of the government
"I think the government’s desire is to clamp down and to instil fear in the population and consolidate his power.”
Grace has asked everyone to pray for Christians and Church Leaders in the country, she said: “We have to pray for them and pray for God to change their hearts.
“We believe in the power of prayer as a Christian organisation and so that's got to be the number one, but then praying also that God would use the international community to put on pressure on the government.”