Press Release

IACHR and OHCHR Express Concern Over the Passing of the Comprehensive Care for Victims Act in Nicaragua

June 3, 2019

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Washington, DC/Panama City—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) express their concern over the recent passing of the Comprehensive Care for Victims Act in Nicaragua, which does not comply with international norms and standards regarding truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of nonrepetition.

On May 29, 2019, Nicaragua’s National Assembly passed the law implementing the Comprehensive Care for Victims Plan against the backdrop of violent events that have taken place in the country since April 18, 2018. Although article 1 of the act stipulates its objective to be regulating comprehensive care and reparation for victims and their families, the text that was passed consists of five articles that are limited to establishing a generic policy of access to education, housing, employment, and health and recreation services.

The IACHR and the OHCHR wish to remind the state of Nicaragua that appropriate, comprehensive reparation for human rights violations must include measures for restitution, reparation, and rehabilitation for victims and their families and wide-reaching measures of reparation and guarantees of nonrepetition. This reparation should be proportionate to the gravity of the violations in question and the harm the victim suffered and should include a gender and intercultural perspective. The IACHR and the OHCHR note that the legislation that has recently been passed in Nicaragua does not guarantee the right to full reparation in accordance with international human rights laws.

The two organizations also regret the speed with which the legislation was passed and the absence of an open, transparent, consultative process that included civil society and the victims of the grave human rights violations that have been widely documented in Nicaragua. Fulfilling these conditions is an indispensable part of guaranteeing the continuity, legitimacy, and validity of any program or legislation to provide comprehensive reparation.

Furthermore, the IACHR and the OHCHR deem that the legislation in question does not contain any measures to guarantee the right of victims and their families to access to justice, thedespite the fact that such measures were included in the explanatory memorandum. Consequently, the IACHR and the OHCHR reiterate their concern over the state’s unwillingness to establish the truth of events regarding the grave human rights violations that took place during and after the protests that began in Nicaragua on April 18, 2018, and the passing of legislation that is incompatible with international standards on truth, justice, and reparation, such as the Dialogue, Reconciliation, and Peace Act, which was passed on January 24, 2019.

According to the established case law of the IA Court and the IACHR, the obligations to investigate, identify, and sanction those responsible for grave human rights violations may not be waived. Likewise, in the report entitled “Gross Human Rights Violations in the Context of Social Protests in Nicaragua,” the IACHR documented grave violations of victims’ and their families’ access to justice and the right to the truth. This was reflected in the state’s lack of diligence in investigating the deaths and injuries that took place during the social protests mentioned above and the serious irregularities in how events were described. In the report “Human Rights Violations and Abuses in the Context of Process in Nicaragua,” the OHCHR recommended that the state ensure that independent, impartial, effective, thorough, transparent investigations be carried out into all allegations of serious human rights violations and abuses that have taken place since April 18, 2018.

Furthermore, the IACHR and the OHCHR regret that the legislation in question expressly refers to the “failed attempt at a coup d’état” since this reproduces a narrative that stigmatizes, revictimizes, and discredits the victims of the state repression of protests and their families.

“Any initiative to provide full reparation must begin by including all victims of human rights violations in accordance with international standards,” said Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, the IACHR rapporteur for Nicaragua and rapporteur for memory, truth, and justice. “Acknowledging the facts and accepting the state’s responsibility for the grave human rights violations that were committed is also essential to keeping the memory of the victims alive and reaching a swift, legitimate solution to the serious crisis that the country is experiencing,” she added.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) is the leading UN entity on human rights. The General Assembly entrusted both the High Commissioner and her office with a mandate to promote and protect all human rights for all people. UN Human Rights provides assistance in the form of technical expertise and capacity-development in order to support the implementation of international human rights standards on the ground. UN Human Rights assists governments, which bear the primary responsibility for the protection of human rights, to fulfill their obligations and supports individuals to claim their rights. Moreover, it speaks out objectively on human rights violations.

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. 137/19