IACHR Concerned About Health Condition of Women Who Are Deprived of Liberty in Nicaragua

May 27, 2022

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is concerned about the health condition of women who are deprived of liberty in Nicaragua. The Commission therefore asks the State to provide urgent specialist medical care and to take all measures necessary to protect these women's health and integrity, taking into consideration their gender and age.

The Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI, by its Spanish acronym) has been informed of the serious health problems of women who are deprived of liberty in the context of the ongoing crisis in the country, amid a lack of access to timely specialist healthcare, deplorable conditions of detention, and retaliation when detainees are identified as critics of the current government. According to the Mechanism for Recognition of Political Prisoners (Mecanismo para el Reconocimiento de Personas Presas Políticas), 14 women remained in detention by April 30.

Concerning the women held at the National Prison Service facility La Esperanza, the IACHR heard worrying reports about the serious deterioration of the health of Eveling Pinto, 63, who is allegedly not getting specialist care for the various chronic diseases she suffers from. Activist María Esperanza Sánchez, a beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR, has allegedly been at the facility's clinic for more than five days, in serious condition, without receiving specialist care or adequate medication. Nidia Barbosa, 66, has reportedly been taken to the Intensive Care Unit at the Amistad Japón Hospital in Granada, and her family has allegedly not been notified of her current health condition.

The IACHR further stresses its concern about women detained at new facilities in El Chipote prison, operated by the Judicial Assistance Department. Inmates include older women who are reportedly being subjected to isolation regimes and held incommunicado with particularly worrying impacts because they are human rights defenders and activists. These women have reportedly suffered a serious deterioration in their health for lack of access to sufficient food, drinking water, and specialist medical care considering their gender and age.

Nicaragua must provide adequate medical care to individuals who are deprived of liberty, an obligation that stems from the right to humane treatment held in Articles 1.1 and 5 of the American Convention on Human Rights. The IACHR also stresses that the State obligation to protect physical integrity, not resort to cruel or inhuman treatment, and respect the dignity that is inherent to all human beings extends to ensuring access to adequate medical care for individuals who are deprived of liberty.

Incarcerating women has specific dimensions that lead to differentiated violations of their rights based on their gender and on its intersectionality with other factors, including age. The IACHR therefore urges the State to—comprehensively and with due diligence—take all measures necessary to ensure that all the rights of women who are deprived of liberty are respected and protected, and to immediately release all individuals who have been arbitrarily detained in the context of the Nicaraguan crisis.

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. 117/22

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