Press Release

IACHR Adopts Precautionary Measures to Protect Students in Nicaragua

May 25, 2018

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Washington, D.C. – On May 21, 2018, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) decided to adopt a precautionary measure to protect the rights of members of Nicaragua’s student movement and their families.

Having assessed the legal and factual allegations in their specific context, the Commission deemed that: Bosco René Bermúdez; Brandon José Cruz; Fernanda Porto Carrero; Fernando José Sánchez Zeledón; Ángel Gabriel Rocha Amador; Víctor Agustín Cuadras Andino; Lesther Lenin Aleman Alfaro; Iskra Guisselle Malespín Sevilla; Judith Belen Mairena; Mildred Gisselle Rayo Ramírez; Madelaine Jerusalem Caracas Marín; Jeancarlo Manuel López Gutiérrez and Kevin Rodrigo Espinoza Gutiérrez are, in principle, in a serious and urgent situation, since their rights to life and to personal integrity are at risk. The Commission is still assessing other requests it received during and after its working visit to Nicaragua on May 17-21, 2018.

To make its decision, the Commission considered the testimony of students it interviewed during that visit. Most of those students said they had been subjected to acts of violence as a result of the repression, in the context of their involvement in social protests, even when they were carrying out medical assistance tasks, helping the injured or handing out water or food. Further, as noted by the proposed beneficiaries who survived those events, the danger allegedly persists in the form of death threats over the telephone or on social media, or in the actions of persons who follow those students on motorbikes or vans, to intimidate them. The Commission further observes that the proposed beneficiaries are allegedly being subjected to a major stigma. In several cases, images of their faces have allegedly been disseminated on identification sheets with the title “Face of chaos” that also hold information such as names of their family members and even the student’s personal identification number.

As it assessed the seriousness of the situation, the Commission observed with concern that there may even have been persons “infiltrated” among students who constantly scared beneficiaries. In one case, such persons allegedly poured petrol over a student, burned his face and neck and threatened to “burn him alive,” as well as severely beating him up and then sedating him.

Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 in 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 beneficiaries and members of their families. To that end, the State needs both to ensure that its officers will respect the life and the personal integrity of the beneficiaries, in compliance with the standards of international human rights law, and to protect those persons’ rights with relation to dangerous acts that may be perpetrated by third parties. The State must also 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, to prevent them from happening again in the future.

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.

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. 116/18