Canada says it is imposing sanctions against key members of the Nicaraguan government for what it calls gross and systematic human rights violations.

Global Affairs Canada says the sanctions are in response to a systematic campaign of repression and state-sponsored violence against public protests and the activities of opposition groups.

The measures include asset freezes and dealings prohibitions with nine members of the Nicaraguan government, including Gustavo Eduardo Porras Cortes, president of the Nicaraguan National Assembly.

Global Affairs says the human rights violations include violating the right to life, security, free speech and free assembly.

It says there have also been well-documented reports of extrajudicial killings, torture and abuse of protesters.

Global Affairs says it is taking the action in co-ordination with the United States.

"The Government of Nicaragua must be held accountable for its action and must bring an end to the current crisis through real dialogue with opposition groups," Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday in a release.

"Canada will continue to stand with the people of Nicaragua and their legitimate demands for democracy and accountability."

In Washington, the U.S. government said it was taking action against Nicaraguan government officials who persecute Nicaraguan citizens exercising their fundamental freedoms.

"The Government of Nicaragua continues to violate the human rights of the Nicaraguan people, implementing exploitive and violent laws and holding hundreds of people as political prisoners," said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

"The United States is sending an unequivocal message to President Ortega and his inner circle: we stand with the Nicaraguan people on their calls for reform and a return to democracy."

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