IACHR Press Office
Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 65/2021 on August 23, 2021, to grant precautionary measures in favor of Douglas Antonio Villanueva Sandoval, Cindy Mariana Mejía Tercero, and their son in Nicaragua, in the belief that they face a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to their rights.
According to the request for these precautionary measures, Douglas Antonio Villanueva Sandoval was actively involved in the protests of April 2018. He organized and attended rallies against the government in the city of Chinandega and took part in the Movement of Young People for Justice and Feedom (Movimiento Jóvenes por la Justicia y la Libertad). He then started to be subjected to threats, harassment, surveillance, and attacks by police officers and para-State agents, allegedly as a consequence of his involvement in these activities. The violence is allegedly ongoing and the risks have allegedly been extended to his family. As an example, the request for precautionary measures cited recent threats made on social media that said that the habits of Villanueva Sandoval's partner Cindy Mariana Mejía Tercero were known.
The State told the IACHR that it recognizes the rights to life and to personal, mental, and moral integrity that are held in Nicaragua's political constitution. The State alleged that the beneficiary does not face risks that endanger his life and his physical or mental integrity, and that the allegations made in the request are subjective, with no evidence to prove the existence of a real, imminent danger to Villanueva Sandoval's life, safety, and well-being. The State further noted that all individuals are free not only to openly and publicly express their opinions, but also to express their views of and their discontent with the policies of government institutions. However, the State failed to submit evidence that refutes the risks alleged by the party who requested these precautionary measures.
The Commission noted the current situation in Nicaragua and said that, at least since 2018, Villanueva Sandoval has been the object of threats, harassment, and other acts of violence that have persisted over time and have recently become more intense and more frequent. The Comission further noted the extent of the threats (including death threats), the nature of the risks posed by attacks against him, and the direct involvement of officers of the State, who on one occasion even issued death threats against him.
The information that is available in the request for these precautionary measures shows that threats and intimidation seek to get Villanueva Sandoval to restrict his efforts in opposition to the current Nicaraguan government, even in civil society groups and movements. Further, the IACHR noted that these threats include references to his family and that Villanueva Sandoval's partner Cindy Mariana Mejía Tercero has been directly at risk in some instances.
Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the Commission asks the Nicaraguan State to take the following action: a) adopt any measures necessary to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of Douglas Antonio Villanueva Sandoval, Cindy Mariana Mejía Tercero, and their son (in particular, the State must ensure that beneficiaries' rights are respected—in compliance with the standards of international human rights law—both by officers of the State and with regard to dangerous acts that might be perpetrated by third parties); b) come to an agreement with beneficiaries and their representatives regarding any measures that need to be adopted; and c) report on any actions taken to investigate the events that gave rise to the adoption of this precautionary measure, to prevent such events 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 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.