IACHR

Press Release

One Year after the Onset of the Crisis in Nicaragua, IACHR Once Again Expresses Its Permanent Commitment to Victims of Human Rights Violations

April 17, 2019

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
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mrivero@oas.org

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Washington, DC—A year after the onset of social protests in Nicaragua, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) once again expressed its permanent commitment to victims of human rights violations in Nicaragua and their families. Likewise, the IACHR urged the state to end repression, clarify the truth of events, and guarantee access to justice and comprehensive reparation to prevent these grave violations from being repeated.

The state’s violent response to the social protests that began on April 18, 2018, have resulted in the deaths of 325 people, including 21 police officers and 24 children and adolescents, and more than 2,000 injuries. According to figures from civil society, 777 people were arrested and prosecuted, of whom at least 500 remain deprived of their liberty; 300 health professionals were dismissed; 144 UNAN students have been expelled; and over 70 journalists and media workers have been forced into exile. According to the UNHCR, about 62,000 Nicaraguans have fled to neighboring countries, 55,000 of them seeking refuge in Costa Rica.

A year on from the onset of the crisis, the IACHR regrets the institutional deterioration the country is experiencing and the fact that it continues to operate as a police state. There is ongoing state repression as part of a strategy that seeks to silence the voices of dissidents. The grave human rights violations that the IACHR has documented remain unpunished. Given these circumstances, the IACHR wishes to acknowledge the committed work being carried out every day by human rights defenders, victims’ organizations, and those media workers and independent journalists who have managed to stay in the country. The IACHR stands in solidarity with the victims of violations of the rights to life and personal integrity; with those who are still being deprived of their liberty and kept from their families; and with students, doctors and health professionals, members of religious orders, peasants, children and adolescents, women, displaced people and exiles, and with the entire Nicaraguan population, whose lives are still being affected by the grave crisis that began on April 18, 2018.

“Over the course of this last year, we have been deeply impressed by the perseverance of the families of those who were killed in the protests, the families of people who remain under arrest, and the civil society organizations that have supported them in their struggle to obtain truth, justice, and reparation. Their leadership and their courage are the driving force behind the support the IACHR has been providing,” said IACHR president Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena. Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, the rapporteur for Nicaragua, said that “we wish to once again state that we are committed to providing ongoing support for the demands these groups are making and wish to remind the state that according to international human rights law, any solution to the crisis must prioritize victims. Likewise, during any dialogue, the voices of victims and their families must be heard.” Commissioner Joel Hernandez, the rapporteur on the rights of persons deprived of their liberty, added: “We demand that all those being held prisoner are released immediately through an orderly, expeditious, transparent process that establishes their legal status clearly.”

On February 27, 2019, the IACHR acknowledged the start of negotiations between the government and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy as being an invaluable opportunity for moving toward a lasting, peaceful, democratic solution to the grave human rights crisis that the country has been experiencing. The IACHR urges the parties to find ways around the obstacles that are preventing these talks from continuing and to implement the agreements reached. The IACHR calls on the state of Nicaragua to cease repression immediately, to reestablish the legal status of civil society organizations, to guarantee the right to free and peaceful demonstration, and to allow exiled Nicaraguans to return to the country with basic guarantees for their safety. It also calls on the state to clarify the truth of events and guarantee access to justice and comprehensive reparation for all victims.

The IACHR urges Nicaragua to comply with its international human rights obligations and repeats the recommendations set out in the preliminary observations that followed its initial visit to Nicaragua, which were included in the Country Report. The executive secretary of the IACHR, Paulo Abrão, stated that “the Inter-American Commission is willing to return to the country and provide the government with technical support on human rights issues. It is extremely important for the IACHR to be present in the field and stand alongside victims.”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. 101/19