Press Release

IACHR condemns the arbitrary expulsion of human rights defender in Nicaragua

November 28, 2018

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Managua / Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), condemns the detention and arbitrary expulsion of the human rights defender Ana Quirós, as well as the intimidation and harassment against protesters, journalists, and media workers in Nicaragua.

According to information received through the Special Follow-Up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI), Ana Quirós, director of the Center for Information and Health Advisory Services (CISAS), feminist and LGBTQ community leader, and beneficiary of precautionary measures issued by the IACHR (Resolution no. 70/18), was detained and transferred to the Judicial Assistance Directorate, also known as “El Chipote” after being subpoenaed by the General Directorate of Migration and Immigration in Nicaragua (DGME) the morning of November 26, 2018. Hours after her detention, Ana Quirós was transferred overland by agents from the DGME to the border post of Peñas Blancas, Costa Rica, where she was delivered to the Costa Rican authorities with an order of deportation. Since her detention and until her further expulsion, Ana Quirós would have remained incommunicado, the authorities would not have given notice of her whereabouts, and there was no chance to file any legal remedy before the competent courts to challenge the lawfulness of her detention and expulsion. Ana Quirós did not have any communication with her lawyers either. The information collected by the IACHR’s MESENI indicates that Ana Quirós has been Nicaraguan by way of naturalization for 21 years.

Additionally, the IACHR received information concerning the situation of human rights defenders Ana María Ara Sorribas and María Jesús Ara Sorribas, nationals from Spain, and Bea Huber, a national from Switzerland, who were also subpoenaed by the DGME on the same day. All of the abovementioned women are permanent residents in Nicaragua. At the DGME, the authorities withdrew their Nicaraguan identity card and were compelled to sign a document which indicates that they are banned from participating in political acts. Moreover, they were asked to present themselves to the DGME every 15 days from now on.

The IACHR reaffirms that, under article 22.5 from the American Convention on Human Rights, no one can be expelled from the territory of the state of which he is a national or be deprived of the right to enter it. Furthermore, the Commission recalls that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her nationality once it has been granted. Thus, the Commission has emphasized that any legal procedure that could impact on the rights of a person need to satisfy due process, so that the person can challenge properly any act issued by the State, which includes the right to judicial control with suspensive effects.

When interpreting the American Convention, the organs of the Inter-American System for the protection of human rights have identified minimum standards concerning due process of law that shall rule any legal procedure that could have an impact on the individual’s human rights. Some of these standards are, among others: 1) previous notice of the existence of the procedure must be provided; 2) having a hearing for the determination of the rights at stake; 3) legal representation; 4) the right to present a defense and to have reasonable period to prepare and formalize arguments and evacuate evidence; 5) written record of the authority’s decisions; 6) reasonableness on the length of the procedure; 7) the right to an effective judicial review of administrative decisions from a higher authority; 8) the right to a well-founded resolution; 9) the admiration’s actions must be public.

“The expulsion of Ana Quirós is highly worrying, since it is a reprisal for her work as a human rights defender. Moreover, the expulsion is not in accordance with the Inter-American and universal standards, since States shall not deport their own nationals, regardless of the way the nationality was acquired”, stated Commissioner Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva, the IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants.

According to the information collected by the MESENI, in recent days, increase of police presence at several locations of Managua was registered. The latter would have an intimidating effect and indicates the deployment of a larger State control strategy on civic spaces. Within this context, the MESENI keeps documenting several testimonies and cases related to inspections at police check-points, assaults, detentions and threats committed by State agents, especially against journalists and media workers. Among those cases, on November 23, two works from Radio Darío would have been arbitrarily detained for several hours, by agents from the National Police, who stripped them from their personal belongings; on November 24, Miguel Mora and Verónica Chávez, from 100% Noticias, would have been threatened with death by a public servant from the Directorate of Special Operations, at a check-point in Masaya; the same day, a journalist from Radio Corporación, would have been beaten by three police officers when they were travelling on a taxi cab through the city of Managua. On November 27, the journalist of Confidencial and of the program Esta Noche, Carlos Salinas Maldonado, reported that he was besieged by motorized paramilitaries, who had remained in front of his house and had followed him to the media outlet where he works. Additionally, according to the information available, the editorial chief of the La Prensa newspaper, Luis Sánchez Sancho, is currently allegedly in custody due to a traffic accident. Although the parties had reached an agreement, the judge had ordered his imprisonment. According to the information available, this measure is allegedly a response to a scheme of repression and attempt at censorship by the Government.

With this regard, Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, Rapporteur for Nicaragua, stated that “constant criminalization of human rights defenders, journalists, and media workers, excessive use of force, arbitrary detentions, and other State responses against international law, that take place in Nicaragua, employed to inhibit the people from demonstrating their social claims, are the reflect of the exceptional situation on the country.” “It is imperative that the State fulfills with its obligations with regards to human rights, in order to establish an adequate environment for rule of law and democracy,” she added.

On the other hand, information received through the MESENI, indicates that National Police denied a group of persons, authorization to perform a march on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The resolution exposes a series of arguments that try to equate social protests with vandalism; according to Nicaraguan authorities, such protests intend to promote terrorist acts and to re-activate the “tranques”, aiming for a coup.

The Commission has stated on previous occasions that the right of assembly through social protest must not be subject to authorization from the authorities or excessive requirements that hinder its realization. In addition, the legal requirements that provide a basis for an assembly or demonstration to be prohibited or limited, such as through the requirement of prior permission, are not compatible with the right of assembly. Finally, the IACHR notes that the requirement of prior notification must not be mistaken with the requirement of prior permission, discretionally granted.

The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Edison Lanza, noted “the State of Nicaragua has the duty to ensure the work of journalists at protests.” He added that “the latter requires that police agents must not assault or detain them, on the basis of a supposed unlawful participation in the protests, since such measures seriously violate the right of society to receive news of public interest”.

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. 255/18