The prime minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Fiona Bruce MP, has called for the “immediate” release of Bishop Rolando Álvarez, a Catholic leader in Nicaragua.
The 56-year-old was condemned to 26 years in prison earlier this year for criticising the Nicaraguan government of Daniel Ortega. He was charged with undermining national integrity and spreading false news and was stripped of his Nicaraguan citizenship.
Bishop Rolando’s imprisonment has been widely condemned by the Church and the international community, with human rights charities accusing the government of harassing religious groups and their leaders.
Since 2018 and following anti-Ortega protests, government officials have expelled Catholic nuns and missionaries and shut more than a dozen Catholic radio and television stations, as they are seen by Ortega as “traitors” who want to overthrow him in a "coup".
Last month, Bishop Rolando was sent back to prison after rejecting government proposals to exile to Italy.
On Monday, Lord Hylton asked the government about their actions with the government of Nicaragua concerning the re-arrest and imprisonment of Bishop Rolando Álvarez and other priests there.
Minister of state Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said: “On 28 June, the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief and Chair of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, Fiona Bruce MP, called for the immediate and unconditional release of Bishop Alvarez and all others wrongly deprived of their freedom in Nicaragua, naming Bishop Álvarez as a prisoner of conscience.
“The UK continues to call for the release of Bishop Álvarez and all political prisoners in Nicaragua, including in conversations with the Nicaraguan authorities in Managua.
“The increasing suppression of political rights and the detention and expulsion of opposition politicians, activists and members of the clergy are further evidence of the serious democratic crisis in Nicaragua.”