Press Release

IACHR Grants Protection Measures in Favor of Amaya Coppens and 15 Other People Who Are Deprived of Their Freedom in Nuevo Chipote Prison, Nicaragua

December 27, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - On December 24, 2019, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted Resolution 62/2019 (link in Spanish), through which it granted precautionary measures in favor of Amaya Coppens and 15 other people who are deprived of their freedom in Nuevo Chipote Prison in Nicaragua. According to the petition requesting the measure, the beneficiaries were deprived of their freedom after providing support in the form of medication and water for a group of mothers who had started a hunger strike to protest against the allegedly arbitrary arrest of their relatives, who had taken part in various demonstrations.

The petition alleged that the beneficiaries are being held in small cement cells without mattresses or pillows and have remained there since being arrested, except on the occasion of their preliminary hearing and during visits. They are allegedly only allowed one liter of water every two or three days, and the fact that this water is dirty or of poor quality has allegedly made them ill. The petitioners also drew attention to the treatment the prisoners were receiving, providing detailed, dated accounts of the circumstances in which they were allegedly attacked or threatened. They were also allegedly denied timely access to medical care.

Finally, the petitioners expressed their concern over the relatives of the proposed beneficiaries, who had also allegedly been subjected to intimidation. On November 21, a group of 12 masked men allegedly tried to break into the house of the mother of one of the beneficiaries but were scared off when neighbors intervened in the situation. Likewise, the father of another beneficiary allegedly saw police officers outside his house and received unusual telephone calls, among other situations.

The IACHR requested information from the state on November 26, 2019, and to date, no response has been received. However, the petitioners alleged that on November 17, the District Attorney’s Office accused the proposed beneficiaries of illicit arms trafficking and the following day, the police force gave a press conference in which it described the beneficiaries as members of a criminal gang that was planning to carry out attacks on public buildings. The petitioners believe that these allegations may lead to third parties attempting to attack them.

Consequently, in accordance with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR requested that the state of Nicaragua take the necessary steps toward guaranteeing the rights to life, personal integrity, and health of Ms. Amaya Coppens and the other beneficiaries who are being deprived of their freedom at Nuevo Chipote Prison; that it take the necessary steps toward guaranteeing that the conditions in which the beneficiaries are being held prisoner are compatible with applicable international standards; that it guarantee access to adequate medical treatment following the recommendations of the corresponding specialists; and that it report on the actions it takes to investigate into the allegations that led to the issuing of this precautionary measure, so as to prevent them from being repeated.

The IACHR noted that it has been monitoring the situation in Nicaragua closely. It granted precautionary measures in favor of Amaya Coppens in November 2018 and subsequently requested provisional measures from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which were granted in May 2019. Once the provisional measures were lifted, the beneficiary was arrested again.

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the state does not entail a prejudgment on any petition that may eventually be filed before the inter-American system to allege that the rights protected by the American Convention and other applicable instruments have been violated.

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. 343/19