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Nicaragua threatens to take UK and others to international court over Gaza war

Warning from Daniel Ortega's government alleges that weapons from several western countries are being used to commit genocide against Palestinians
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in Revolution Square in Managua, Nicaragua, on 11 September 2023 (AFP)

Nicaragua has warned Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Canada that it will take the countries to the International Court of Justice over allegations that weapons they are providing Israel are being used in a genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

In a bilingual Spanish and English statement, the Nicaraguan government said that the four countries had supplied arms to Israel “to facilitate or commit violations of the Genocide Convention” in the Gaza Strip.

Nicaragua’s leftist government said it had delivered a verbal warning to them of its “decision to hold them responsible under international law”.

“Nicaragua has urged the government of the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada to immediately halt the supply of arms, ammunitions, technology and/or components to Israel as it is plausible they might have been used to facilitate or commit violations of the genocide convention,” the statement said.

The central American country was one of several along with Turkey, Jordan, Venezuela, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Namibia to support South Africa’s genocide case against Israel in January.

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The International Court of Justice has delivered an interim ruling calling on Israel to refrain from impeding the delivery of aid into Gaza and improve the humanitarian situation. 

It also ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent acts of genocide in the besieged enclave and to punish incitement to genocide.

However, it did not order Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza, one of South Africa's key demands in the case it brought to The Hague.

In its statement, Nicaragua argued that “the risk” of a genocide occurring supported its appeal for a halt in arms shipments.

“The obligation to prevent genocide arises and begins when there is a risk of it occurring; in fact, when it is plausible that it is occurring or might occur. This plausibility is now beyond doubt and dispute.”

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla, is close to US foes Russia and China. He secured a fourth term in office in 2021 after jailing his main opponents in an election the US slammed as a “pantomime” and a crackdown on street protests that saw hundreds killed.

Human Rights Watch has documented widespread cases of harassment and detention of Ortega’s political opponents, journalists, and human rights defenders.

He has most recently cracked down on the Catholic church, arresting clergy in what Human Rights Watch has said is "one of the worst human rights crises in Latin America." 

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