IACHR

Press Release

IACHR Grants Precautionary Measure in Favor of Priest Edwin Heriberto Roman Calderón and Human Rights Defender Álvaro Leiva Sánchez in Nicaragua

June 7, 2018

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María Isabel Rivero
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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted on June 5, 2018 a precautionary measure to protect the rights of Edwin Heriberto Roman Calderón, a priest in Masaya, and Álvaro Leiva Sánchez, secretary of the Asociación Nicaragüense Pro-Derechos Humanos (Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights), who according to the request the Commission received are acting to defend human rights and provide humanitarian assistance in the context of the violent events that have happened in the Nicaraguan city of Masaya.

As it made its decision, the IACHR noted that Edwin Heriberto Roman Calderón as a priest and Álvaro Leiva Sánchez as a human rights defender actively sought to protect the human rights of people who had been injured or arrested in the context of the events that took place in Masaya on June 2. On that day, special forces of the national police and riot squads reportedly entered the area from the morning hours, and there were several violent events and clashes that allegedly left several people dead or injured.

According to the information the Commission has had access to, both beneficiaries were involved in granting civilians refuge inside San Miguel parish church at a particularly tense time, when they were reportedly surrounded by riot squads and shots were fired. Both beneficiaries of the precautionary measure left the church waving a white flag, amid the clashes and the barricades, to mediate. They obtained the release of 21 people who had been detained by police. In such a context, beneficiaries’ lives and integrity were reportedly in grave danger.

After assessing those events, the Commission considered that the information it had received regarding the risks faced by beneficiaries—which was appraised in light of the evidence that the IACHR obtained directly during a working visit to Nicaragua on May 17-21, 2018—meant that, based on the standards that are applicable prima facie, the rights to life and to personal integrity of Father Edwin Heriberto Roman Calderón and of Álvaro Leiva Sánchez are in grave danger. Further, given the potential acts of retaliation the Commission has been warned about, the IACHR considered that such danger extends to the two men’s families.

Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of the IACHR’s Rules of Procedure, the Commission asked the Nicaraguan State to adopt any measures necessary to preserve the life and the personal integrity of Edwin Eriberto Roman Calderón and Álvaro Leiva Sánchez and their families. To that end, the State needs both to ensure that its officers will respect the life and the personal integrity of the proposed beneficiaries, in compliance with the standards of international human rights law, and to protect those persons’ rights in relation to dangerous acts that may be perpetrated by third parties. The Commission further asked the Nicaraguan State to come to an agreement with beneficiaries and their representatives regarding the measures that need to be taken and to report on any actions adopted to investigate the alleged events that gave rise to the adoption of this precautionary measure. 

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the Inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable instruments.

The Commission is still assessing the requests for precautionary measures it received during and after its working visit to Nicaragua. So far, the Executive Secretariat has recorded 150 requests, all of which have been classified and assessed. The Commission has adopted 4 precautionary measures resolutions to protect the rights to life and to personal integrity of 24 people, including university students, victims’ families, survivors of violent events, priests, human rights defenders and people who have assisted the injured. The Commission continues to receive and assess requests that meet the requirements set in Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, and to make decisions on them. 

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.

No. 127/18