Press Release

IACHR Extends Precautionary Measures in Favor of 17 Women Human Rights Defenders in Nicaragua

December 27, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 60/2019 on December 24, 2019, to extend precautionary protection measures in favor of (1) Sofía Isabel Montenegro Alarcón, (2) Violeta Vanessa Delgado Sarmiento, (3) María Teresa Blandón Gadea, (4) Mirna del Socorro Blandón Gadea, (5) Luz Marina Torres Velásquez, (6) Martha Cecilia Meneses Mendoza, (7) Sandra Arceda Torres, (8) Yamilet de la Concepción Mejía Palma, (9) Ana Patricia Martínez Corrales, (10) Marlene del Socorro Ponce Espino, (11) Carla Rosa Padilla, (12) Jennifer Esperanza Altamirano Pozo, (13) Ruth María Díaz Domínguez, (14) Xiomara Ibarra Zelaya, (15) Marlen Auxiliadora Chow, (16) Daisy Tamara Dávila Rivas, and (17) María Virginia Meneses Mendoza, in Nicaragua, in the belief that they face a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable damage to their rights. Previously, the IACHR had already granted precautionary measures in favor of 17 other women human rights defenders through Resolution 70/2018.

The Commission considered that, in the State of Nicaragua’s specific current context, defenders play a crucial role to document what is happening and to advocate for and support victims of serious violence. The 17 women defenders identified in this resolution reportedly belong to various organizations, groups, movements, associations, and initiatives with a relevant role in the country’s current situation. To assess the risks faced by these women, the Commission took into consideration the fact that acts of targeted and random violence against women defenders are influenced by their gender, and that, in retaliation for their work, they are particularly exposed to various forms of violence—including sexual violence—and to violence against their families, beyond other hurdles that jeopardize the work of all defenders. The Commission further observes that women defenders are particularly exposed to the use of gender stereotypes to discredit their work, or even to ridicule them.

The Commission noted that, given the visibility and leadership of the 17 beneficiaries in Nicaragua’s current context, they have been persistently followed and subjected to harassment, intimidation, death threats, and attacks at various times and through various means. Similarly, some of these beneficiaries have denounced that, given that their address and other private details have been made public and given the risks described above, they have decided to leave their homes or to shut down their family businesses.

Consequently, the Commission has asked the State of Nicaragua to take any measures necessary to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of beneficiaries and their close families, who risk being identified. In particular, the State must ensure that beneficiaries’ rights are respected—in compliance with the standards of international human rights law—both by State agents and with regard to dangerous acts that might be perpetrated by third parties; come to an agreement with beneficiaries and their representatives regarding any measures that need to be adopted; and report on any actions taken to investigate the alleged events that gave rise to the adoption of this precautionary measure, to prevent such events from happening again in the future.

The Commission stresses that the fact that precautionary measures have been granted and their adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment concerning a potential violation 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. 338/19