Press Release

IACHR Adopts Precautionary Measure to Protect Monsignor Silvio José Báez Ortega in Nicaragua

May 31, 2018

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Washington, D.C. - On May 29, 2018, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) decided to adopt a precautionary measure to protect the rights to life and to personal integrity of Silvio José Báez Ortega, auxiliary bishop of Managua, who is taking part in ongoing talks between the Government and various other sectors in Nicaragua to seek a peaceful solution to the country’s current crisis.

Having assessed the available information, and given the evidence that the Commission obtained directly during a working visit to Nicaragua on May 17-21, 2018, the IACHR considered that the rights to life and to personal integrity of Silvio José Báez Ortega and his family are in grave danger. The Commission is still assessing other requests it received during and after the visit.

To make this decision, the Commission bore in mind the fact that, according to information that the Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference recently made public, Monsignor Silvio José Báez Ortega has been the target of “smear” actions, “death threats” and alleged “government attacks implemented through pro-government journalists and media and through anonymous accounts on social media like Facebook and Twitter,” allegedly for his mediation efforts in the talks. The Commission further received reports that Silvio José Báez Ortega and his family are on a list of people who need to be “wiped out” and that suspicious persons are constantly watching his family’s home. The Commission has been able to check pictures that show, on Facebook, not only various messages to discredit Silvio José Báez Ortega—which in this specific context create a particularly hostile atmosphere against the beneficiary—but also photos that concretely show a person who had allegedly threatened to kill the auxiliary bishop, with a firearm. The Commission also noted the intimidating effect that such a situation could have on his own and other participants’ involvement in the ongoing talks.

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 the beneficiary and other members of his family. To that end, the State needs both to ensure that its officers will respect the life and the personal integrity of the proposed 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. 122/18