Nicaragua: IACHR and REDESCA Express Concern About Violations of Property and Social Security Rights

April 14, 2023

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Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Economic Rights (OSRESCER) expressed their concern on how the rights to property and access to ESCERs are being compromised in Nicaragua. Of particular concern is the right to social security of Nicaraguans who have been arbitrarily deprived of their nationality, many of whom are older people whose survival and dignified old age are allegedly being jeopardized.

Through the IACHR's Special Follow-up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI), information was received on the closure of bank accounts, police raids, and the confiscation and removal of property records of people who have been stripped of their nationality. In some cases, their relatives or third parties who live in these properties have reported trespassing, being charged rent by the Attorney General's Office (PGR) as a condition to remain in the property, and receiving summons from the PGR to formalize "their occupancy status," which is allegedly creating a climate of fear and prompting anxiety that they may be evicted. The loss of housing and land assets for farming and other forms of work is allegedly increasing the vulnerability of people who have been declared stateless and their families.

The right to private property is enshrined in Article 21 of the American Convention of Human Rights and can only be restricted based on the requirements set out therein. The IACHR and the OSRESCER warned that the confiscation of property and assets and the arbitrary deprivation of nationality constitute an arbitrary, disproportionate criminal sanction against people who have been identified as opponents of the current Nicaraguan government.

Furthermore, the information the IACHR has received indicates that the State has reportedly removed all elderly persons who have been declared stateless and "traitors to the homeland" from the records of the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS). As a result, neither they nor their families will have access to their pension payments. There is also allegedly no way of obtaining certificates that prove they were ever registered with the social security system. The IACHR noted that the statelessness that the Nicaraguans in question have been thrust into has a disproportionately harmful effect on the legal situation of older people, who will allegedly lose their pension contributions and access to the social protection system.

The IACHR noted that inter-American standards have established that contributions legally made for pension purposes are protected by the right to property enshrined in the American Convention and Declaration. Likewise, the IACHR has recognized that the right to social security—which is enshrined in several inter-American treaties—protects against contingencies that may cause harm to individuals and places particular emphasis on protecting people during old age. The protection of older people and their right to a dignified old age and means of subsistence has been recognized as an international obligation in the inter-American system.

On this basis, the IACHR and the OSRESCER urged the State of Nicaragua to adopt the relevant measures to guarantee that older victims of these confiscations have access to food, healthcare, and housing services and the care required to live a dignified old age.

The IACHR and the OSRESCER urged the State of Nicaragua to cease its harassment of dissidents and to guarantee the conditions needed for them to develop their life plans fully and to exercise their rights, particularly their ESCERs. They particularly called on the State to identify and implement the actions needed to guarantee these people's access to their pension funds and the restitution of their confiscated assets in accordance with the standards of the American Convention.

Furthermore, as Nicaragua does not have an independent judiciary, the IACHR and the OSRESCER expressed their concern about the lack of access to effective judicial remedies for claiming the restitution of these rights. They also called for international solidarity through specialist international financial organizations and agencies to demand effective responses to ensure Nicaraguans are able to freely access their pension funds, which they are currently unable to do.

The OSRESCER is an autonomous office of the IACHR that was specifically created to support the IACHR in fulfilling its mandate to promote and protect economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights in the Americas.

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. 061/23

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