IACHR requests provisional measures to I/A Court H.R. for the inhabitants of Musawas and Wilú indigenous communities in Nicaragua

April 26, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – On April 26, 2023, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) requested that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court H.R.) extend provisional measures in the Matter of "Members of the Miskitu Indigenous People of the Northern Caribbean Coast Region in Nicaragua" to include the inhabitants of the Musawas and Wilú indigenous communities of the Mayangna Sauni As Territory of the North Caribbean Coast Region in Nicaragua. The Commission considered that the inhabitants of the identified communities are in a serious and urgent situation placing them at risk of irreparable harm to their rights.

As a precedent, the Commission recalls that, on February 13, 2022, it granted precautionary measures in favor of the inhabitants of the Musawas and Wilú communities. Despite the request for information made by the IACHR to the State, no response was received on measures taken to address the risk.

The IACHR notes that serious acts of violence occurred in the Musawas and Wilú communities, consisting of death threats, kidnappings, the presence of heavily armed third parties in search of appropriating the community's lands and, recently, the violent murder of community members by third parties, called "settlers," which led to the forced displacement of inhabitants from the communities. The presence of the settlers reportedly generates strong territorial pressure on the community and the inhabitants are purportedly prevented from accessing certain areas of the territory. The situation is framed in the context of claims for the ancestral territories of the Miskitu y Mayangna Sauni As indigenous peoples and the land titling processes taking place in the area.  

Taking into account the above, and given the ongoing context of severe conflict not yet effectively addressed by the State, the IACHR considers that events such as those reported could occur again. This includes the accelerated destruction of their communities' sources of subsistence, as well as the irreparable damage to their cultural identity as a result of the displacement from their ancestral territories and the loss of community life.

The Commission considers that the rights of the inhabitants of the Musawas and Wilú indigenous communities are at extreme risk in the context of claiming ancestral territories. In accordance with the provisions of Article 63(2) of the American Convention and Article 27 of the Court's Rules of Procedure, the Commission requested that the Court order the State to protect and guarantee the lives, personal and territorial integrity, and the cultural identity in favor of the members of the Musawas and Wilú communities, as well as the people who have had to leave the communities and wish to return.

Provisional measures are issued by the IACHR in cases of extreme seriousness and urgency to avoid irreparable harm to persons. They are binding on States and therefore the decisions contained therein require States to take specific actions to safeguard rights and/or protect the lives of persons at risk.

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 the observance and defense of 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. 078/23

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