IACHR Urges Nicaragua to Guarantee that Political Prisoners Have Regular Contact with Their Families in Conditions of Dignity

May 13, 2022

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Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urged the State of Nicaragua to guarantee that political prisoners held at El Chipote prison can communicate with their families and have contact with them safely, in conditions of dignity, in accordance with international standards and national legislation.

The IACHR's Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua has recently received information that political prisoners held at El Chipote remain in deplorable conditions of detention that include mistreatment, isolation, incommunicado detention, and a lack of access to timely, adequate, and specialized medical attention. Many of these detainees are beneficiaries of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR and provisional measures granted by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Likewise, the information received by the IACHR shows that the authorities have permanently refused to guarantee communication between detainees and their children by restricting visits from minors altogether, along with telephone calls and the exchange of correspondence, photographs, drawings, and messages. As indicated above, these events have a disproportionate effect on young children, who have had no communication with their mothers or fathers for more than six months and are suffering the psychological and emotional effects of this.

According to the Principles and Best Practices on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas, people who are being deprived of their freedom have the right to receive and send correspondence, subject only to those limitations that are compatible with international law; and to maintain direct personal contact with their relatives, legal representatives, and other people through regular visits, particularly their parents, children, and life partners.

The IACHR has noted that family visits, including such as intimate visits, are a fundamental component of the right to protection of the family enshrined in Article 17 of the American Convention on Human Rights. Furthermore, the State is obliged to facilitate contact between detainees and their families and to prevent any abusive and arbitrary interference with fundamental rights. Family visits should take place at least as often as set out in the Penitentiary Regulations and in conditions of dignity that are in no way degrading to the people being deprived of their freedom.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child establishes the right of all children to a family and also states that parents' being deprived of their freedom should not in principle be considered a reason to unduly restrict regular contact. The IACHR emphasized that this contact is crucial to children's emotional needs, well-being, safety, and for them to develop their identity. Consequently, the State must urgently allow contact between children and their families and establish the necessary measures to ensure that these encounters take place under appropriate conditions that are in line with the children's best interests.

Finally, the IACHR also called once more on the State to release all those who have been detained arbitrarily since the start of the human rights crisis in Nicaragua.

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. 103/22

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