Press Release

IACHR Asks Inter-American Court of Human Rights to Extend Temporary Protection Measures in Favor of Cristiana Chamorro and 14 Other Individuals Who Face Extreme Risks in Nicaragua

October 29, 2021

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has asked the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to extend the temporary measures granted to protect the rights of 15 individuals, as well as their families, because they all face an extremely serious and urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to their rights in Nicaragua.

These 15 people are: Cristiana María Chamorro Barrios, presidential candidate for the political party Ciudadanos por la Libertad-CxL and former president of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation; Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Barrios, former member of the board of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation and founding member of the party Ciudadanos por la Libertad-CxL; Walter Antonio Gómez Silva, former treasurer of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation; Marcos Antonio Fletes Casco, former comptroller of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation; Lourdes Arróliga, former employee of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation; Pedro Salvador Vásquez, driver for Cristiana María Chamorro Barrios; Arturo José Cruz Sequeira, presidential candidate for the platform Alianza Ciudadana; Luis Alberto Rivas Anduray, former vice president of FUNIDES and director for Banpro Grupo Promerica; and Miguel de los Ángeles Mora Barberena, presidential candidate for the party Renovación Democrática. The list further includes leaders of the party Unión Democrática Renovadora—Dora María Téllez Arguello, Ana Margarita Vijil Gurdián, Suyen Barahona Cuán, Jorge Hugo Torres Jiménez, and Víctor Hugo Tinoco Fonseca—as well as the leader of Coalición Nacional, José Bernard Pallais Arana.

The Inter-American Commission granted precautionary measures in favor of most of these individuals and (where appropriate) their families in keeping with Article 25 of the IACHR's Rules of Procedure, after noting that they faced serious and urgent risks of suffering irreparable harm.

Although the Commission has repeatedly requested information from the State, it has not received a response that might suggest that protection measures have been adopted to address these risks. This is particularly worrying given that 14 of these individuals have recently been held incommunicado, in pretrial detention or under house arrest. They have also been prevented from accessing the minimum safeguards of all judicial proceedings, in the context of an escalating crisis in Nicaragua that has intensified as the election approached. These individuals have been prevented from being politically active in any way ahead of the general election scheduled for November 2021.

As with current beneficiaries in the case Juan Sebastián Chamorro and Others that has been taken before the Inter-American Court, the IACHR notes that these individuals are public figures from various sectors in Nicaraguan society who are well-known as critics of Nicaragua's current government. In particular, these individuals tried to make sure that the general election of November 2021 would be democratic and that human rights would be respected.

These individuals further hold high-profile positions as leaders in the fight against the actions of the current Nicaraguan government since April 2018, and they have also spoken up against State repression of civilians in the context of the ongoing human rights crisis. A group of these people were arrested after expressing their interest in standing for the presidency in the general election of November 2021. Further, some of these individuals were involved—as members of the coalition Alianza Cívica por la Justicia y la Democracia—in the negotiations launched by the government in 2019 to seek a solution to the human rights crisis that started on April 18, 2018.

The information the Commission has recently received concerning persistent danger for these individuals' lives and personal integrity, and evidence of arbitrariness in arrests conducted during 2021, the lack of early concrete information about detainees' location and conditions of detention and about the crimes they have been charged with (given a normative framework that seeks to criminalize anyone believed to be a government critic), as well as the multiple, well-substantiated, and consistent allegations of violations of due process in their cases, all suggest that their deprivation of liberty is closely linked to a wish to silence them through retaliation, to deprive them of all access to social and/or political activity, and to publicize the punishments awaiting anyone who demonstrates or otherwise protests against State action or who seeks to oppose the current Nicaraguan government in the upcoming general election.

In these circumstances, the Commission believes that the rights of these individuals and their families face extreme risks and that they are exposed to imminent acts of violence, in potential retaliation for any measures they take to demand justice for the actions of the State.

Consequently, in keeping with Article 63.2 of the American Convention and Article 27 of the Rules of Procedure of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Commission asks the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to demand that the State of Nicaragua expand temporary measures and take protection measures in favor of these 15 individuals and their families.

The Commission further asks the Court to urge the State of Nicaragua to immediately take any measures necessary to effectively protect the lives, integrity, health, and personal freedom of these 15 individuals and their families; to release those among them who are still in pretrial detention; and to release Cristiana Chamorro from house arrest. The Commission also asks to be allowed to visit Nicaragua. The IACHR is fully available to check the implementation of these temporary measures and to verify their effectiveness.

The Commission also asks the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to remind the State that, in compliance with Article 53 of the Court's Rules of Procedure, beneficiaries' relatives and representatives should not be tried and that no retaliation should be exercised against them.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights grants precautionary measures in extremely serious and urgent cases, to prevent irreparable harm to individuals. These measures are compulsory for States, and the decisions they hold demand that States adopt specific actions to protect the rights and/or lives of the individuals and groups who are under threat.

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. 285/21

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