IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures in Favor of Gustavo Adolfo Mendoza Beteta and His Family in Nicaragua

May 4, 2021

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Washington, D.C. — On April 30, 2021, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted Resolution 37/2021, through which it granted precautionary measures in favor of Gustavo Adolfo Mendoza Beteta, who is allegedly being deprived of his freedom at Jorge Navarro Penitentiary (known as "La Modelo"), and his family: María del Rosario Beteta Castañeda, Domingo Mendoza, and Marbely Leal López. The IACHR deemed that the situation meets, prima facie, the requirements of gravity, urgency, and risk of irreparable damage set out in Article 25 of the IACHR Rules of Procedure.

According to the request, beneficiary Gustavo Mendoza Beteta is reportedly being deprived of his freedom in inadequate conditions as a result of his work in opposition to the current Nicaraguan government and is being subjected to threats and acts of violence by state agents. As part of these circumstances, his family is also the target of harassment. Specifically, the IACHR observed that Gustavo Mendoza Beteta is allegedly being held in a small cell with 20 other people. Minimum hygiene standards are not being met: there is no bathroom, drinking water, sunlight, or ventilation, and the beneficiary is sleeping on the floor and is given uncooked food. It has also been reported that he is being subjected to acts of aggression and threats by prison officials and other State authorities, such as physical beatings and threats, including that he will be "disappeared."

It is inappropriate to use the precautionary measure mechanism to determine the legality of the proposed beneficiary's criminal conviction and/or whether he is in fact a political prisoner, since doing so would necessarily imply ascertaining whether his detention and prosecution were arbitrary. However, the IACHR stated that the information provided by the petitioners includes grounds for concluding that there is a certain animosity toward the beneficiary, which may aggravate the situation of risk in which he finds himself. Although the IACHR values the information provided by the State regarding the circumstances in which Gustavo Mendoza Beteto was deprived of freedom and subsequently' prosecuted, it notes that the State did not provide evidence to refute the petitioners' allegations but merely argued that they lacked sufficient credibility.

It also noted that the alleged risk extends to Gustavo Mendoza Beteta's family. According to the petitioners, his mother and father alleged that they were being subjected to surveillance by state agents outside the house they live in. Likewise, Marbely Leal López allegedly continues to be harassed when she visits Gustavo Mendoza Beteta in prison. In this context, it is the IACHR's understanding that, despite the alleged involvement of State agents, the State has not deployed any protective measures for the benefit of the proposed beneficiary's immediate family, nor has it provided information on any relevant investigative actions.

Consequently, in accordance with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR requested that the state of Nicaragua: a) take the necessary measures to guarantee the right to life and personal integrity of Gustavo Adolfo Mendoza Beteta and his immediate family. In particular, the State must guarantee that its agents respect the beneficiaries' rights in accordance with the standards set out in international human rights law and third-party risks; b) adopt the necessary measures to ensure that the conditions in which Gustavo Mendoza Beteta is being detained conform to the relevant international standards; c) agree on any measures to be taken with the beneficiaries and their representatives; and d) report on the actions it takes to investigate the alleged events that led to the adoption of this precautionary measure so as to prevent them from being repeated.

The IACHR's granting of this precautionary measure and its adoption by the state does not entail a prejudgment on any petition that may eventually be filed before the inter-American system alleging a violation of the human rights that are protected by the relevant legal instruments.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate derives from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The IACHR is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 114/21