IACHR Press Office
Washington, D.C. — Between July 25 and 29, 2022, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) conducted a promotional visit to Miami, Florida, United States of America, and San José, Costa Rica, in order to follow up on the situation of Nicaraguans who have been forced to flee to these countries as a result of the crisis that began in Nicaragua on April 18, 2018.
The IACHR is grateful to the United States of America and Costa Rica for their openness to this visit. The delegation was led by Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, Rapporteur for Nicaragua, who was accompanied by technical staff from the Executive Secretariat that are part of the Special Follow-up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI). Likewise, in Costa Rica, the IACHR Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Pedro Vaca, was part of the delegation.
During its working visit, the IACHR held working meetings with Nicaraguan civil society groups and organizations in Miami and San José. It also collected more than twenty testimonies from Nicaraguans forced to move to these countries. In Costa Rica, the IACHR held protocol meetings with Foreign Minister Arnoldo André Tinoco and with migration and human rights authorities.
In the United States, the IACHR received information and testimonies regarding the increase in the number of Nicaraguans fleeing to the United States due to the repression in Nicaragua, as well as the different risks and acts of harassment or violence they face in transit to that country. Similarly, the people interviewed reported on the long waiting periods for applying for asylum, and the difficulties in accessing identity documents or legal defense, among other challenges.
Civil society in Costa Rica has acknowledged the State's openness to the thousands of people who move to there. At the same time, they reported challenges in terms of access to work, health, housing, and education faced by Nicaraguans seeking international protection in that country. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in the exodus from Nicaragua have exacerbated the situation. According to UNHCR, by 2022, the number of Nicaraguan refugees and asylum-seekers in Costa Rica alone had allegedly doubled, reaching 150,000 people.
As part of its promotion and training activities in Costa Rica, the IACHR presented the Report on the Human Rights Situation in Nicaragua contained in Chapter IV.B of its 2021 Annual Report. In addition, in both the United States and Costa Rica, the MESENI technical team facilitated two training sessions on the Inter-American System and international standards on memory, truth, justice, and reparation.
During its visit to both countries, the IACHR received information and testimonies confirming that the crisis in Nicaragua continues to deepen. The breakdown of the principle of separation of powers has enabled the entire State apparatus to be used to repress and persecute Nicaraguan civil society, the church, the press, and anyone considered to be an opponent of the government, forcing them to flee the country.
Of particular concern to the IACHR is the information received on the grave predicament of the more than 180 political prisoners who remain in conditions that run counter to human dignity, many of them in a delicate state of health; as well as the anxiety, fear, and afflictions suffered by their families, both in Nicaragua and in exile. In many cases, they remain unable to make contact with their minor sons and daughters. Similarly, the accelerated closure of public space continues to force thousands of Nicaraguans into exile, including members of more than a thousand organizations whose legal status has been arbitrarily canceled this year. The IACHR also became aware of the arbitrary restrictions on entering and leaving the country, including the withdrawal of passports and the arbitrary detention of people for several hours.
The IACHR and the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (RFOE) were also informed of the increasingly violent persecution of the independent press and the risk involved in engaging in journalism in Nicaragua today. The IACHR and the RFOE listened to the stories of journalists who have been forced to leave the country in recent weeks, who spoke of the atmosphere of self-censorship and the zones of media silence that the escalating repression by the authorities has generated. They also described the almost complete closure of access to news sources as there is widespread fear of speaking out about the human rights crisis in the country. In addition, they received information on the situation of journalist Miguel Mora, who has been detained since June 2021 and has been on a hunger strike for 40 days to protest the authorities' refusal to let him see his son. The IACHR and the RFOE express their solidarity with the Nicaraguan press, thank them for the information provided, and once again pay tribute to the courage and commitment with which they continue to carry out their work.
The IACHR recognizes the efforts of the States of Costa Rica and the United States to receive Nicaraguans who are forcibly displaced by the crisis in their country; at the same time, it calls once more on States to guarantee the human rights of Nicaraguans, including the right to seek and receive asylum, to non-refoulement, non-discrimination, and justice; as well as economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to work, housing, education, and social security, from the moment they file their application for refugee status or other forms of international protection. To this end, the IACHR calls on States to ensure that the difficulty many Nicaraguans have in obtaining identity documents does not prevent them from exercising their rights.
Finally, the IACHR calls on all States in the region to implement a strategy based on shared responsibility and a comprehensive human rights approach to the factors causing the forced displacement of Nicaraguan persons and their need for protection, including through the granting of asylum and other protection measures or for humanitarian reasons. In addition, it also encourages Member States to support Costa Rica so that it has the necessary capacities to implement the principles of solidarity and international protection.
The IACHR is a principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate derives from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission is mandated to promote the observance of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The IACHR is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is an office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the hemispheric defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression, considering its fundamental role in the consolidation and development of the democratic system.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.