Press Release

IACHR conducts Working Visit to Miami to Present Report on Human Rights Situation in Nicaragua

July 31, 2019

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Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) conducted a working visit to Miami, Florida, in the United States of America, on June 17 and 18, 2019. The purpose of the visit was to monitor, followup on, and promote work related to the human rights crisis that has been unfolding in Nicaragua since April 2018. The crisis has forced people to flee the country, and those that  remain continue to face state repression.

The delegation was led by the President of the IACHR, Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño; the Second Vice President and Rapporteur for Nicaragua, Commissioner Antonia Urrejola; and the Executive Secretary, Pablo Abrão; who were accompanied by technical staff of the Executive Secretariat who are part of the Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI). The IACHR wishes to thank the United States of America its openness regardign this visit.

As part of its activities in Miami, the IACHR presented its report on the human rights situation in Nicaragua, which is published in Chapter IV.B of the IACHR 2018 Annual Report. The panel which presented the report was led by the IACHR and included the Chief of Staff of the Secretary General of the OAS, Gonzalo Koncke; the Permanent Representative of Chile to the OAS, Ambassador Hernán Salinas; the Coordinator of the OHCHR for Nicaragua, Roberto Desogus; and civil society representatives.

Meetings were also held with 19 civil society organizations, journalists who have fled Nicaragua given the persecution that they faced there, and representatives of the Nicaraguan student and peasant movement, several of whom have been direct victims of the current repression. The Executive Secretariat’s technical team also received 30 testimonies from individuals who have been affected by the crisis and held a training session on the Inter-American System for 31 human rights defenders working both in Nicaragua and abroad, especially in Costa Rica and the United States of America.

Based on the information gathered during the visit, the IACHR became aware of the problems that those who have been forced to flee Nicaragua to the United States of America are facing. The IACHR was informed about the processes they have to go through in relation to infringements of migration regulations or requests for asylum in the United States, such as being detained for lengthy periods of time and the possibility of being returned to Nicaragua on the basis of having entered the country illegally. The Commission also received information regarding the lack of legal assistance and translation services during the processes that Nicaraguan migrants and asylum seekers face.

The IACHR calls on the United States of America to guarantee the human rights of Nicaraguans, including the right to seek and receive asylum, non-refoulement, non-discrimination, and justice, in addition to economic, social, and cultural rights such as the right to work, housing, education, and social security from the moment that they submit their application for refugee status or other forms of international protection.

“Our visit has drawn attention to the need for Nicaragua to end the repression and impunity as soon as possible. It has also highlighted the urgency of the circumstances of many displaced individuals who, once again, find themselves victimized after having fled their country due to repression and who now run the risk of being returned to Nicaragua,” said Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, President of the IACHR. “We are specifically requesting that this not happen and ask those people who leave their country to protect their lives and freedom are guaranteed appropriate treatment,” she added.

“The IACHR continues to exhaustively monitor and follow up on the human rights situation in Nicaragua. Although we acknowledge that the release of detainees from prison constitutes progress, other people are still being illegally and arbitrarily detained in Nicaragua, the IACHR’s recommendations have not been complied with, and there is still no room for the exercise of basic human rights in the country for basic human rights as should occur in a democratic system, such as the right to demonstrate. Furthermore, serious human rights violations continue to occur,” said Antonia Urrejola, Rapporteur for Nicaragua.

“During the working visit to Miami, we met with students and peasants, exiles, and people who had been released from prison. We listened to their testimonies and claims, which revealed that a return to democratic order in which human rights are fully respected has not yet taken place in Nicaragua. The IACHR has a clear mandate in this regard and a permanent commitment that it will continue to exercise,” said Paulo Abrão, the Executive Secretary of the IACHR.

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. 187/19