Press Release

IACHR Considers that the Law on Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace in Nicaragua is Incompatible with International Standards Regarding Truth, Justice and Reparation

February 1, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) considers that the "Law for a Culture of Dialogue, Reconciliation, Security, Labor and Peace" does not conform to international standards regarding truth, justice and reparation.

Nine months after the start of the grave human rights crisis in the country, on January 24, 2019, the National Assembly of Nicaragua approved the "Law for a Culture of Dialogue, Reconciliation, Security, Labor and Peace in Nicaragua”, in order to "safeguard peace, stability, the common good and peaceful coexistence amongst Nicaraguans". The Law establishes a legal framework and a state policy that aims to guarantee a "culture of dialogue, reconciliation, security, work and peace."

In this regard, the Commission notes with concern that the law deviates from international standards in matters of truth, justice and reparation by omitting central elements such as: truth-clarification processes about human rights violations, their causes, and consequences; diligent and impartial criminal proceedings that allow identifying, prosecuting, and where appropriate, punishing those responsible for said violations; comprehensive reparations programs, and guarantees of non-repetition, including, among other actions, institutional reforms that address the serious institutional deterioration that has allowed for the generalized and systematic attack on the civilian population that has taken place in the country.

The Commission is concerned that one of the effects of the adoption of the Law will be to hinder efforts to clarify the truth regarding the serious human rights violations that occurred in the context of the protests that began on April 18, and in particular, to leave in oblivion the fatal victims of state repression, their relatives and the hundreds of people that remain deprived of freedom. In accordance with the established jurisprudence of the Court and the Inter-American Commission, the obligations to investigate, determine and sanction those responsible for serious human rights violations are irrevocable. In that sense, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights established that measures intended to prevent criminal prosecution are inadmissible, as well as any obstacle under domestic law that seeks to prevent the investigation and punishment of those responsible for human rights violations.

In its Report "Serious violations of human rights in the context of social protests in Nicaragua," the IACHR registered the claim of victims, family members and civil society regarding the lack of a timely, independent and non-revictimizing intervention to clarify the serious acts of violence recorded. In this regard, the IACHR recommended that the State of Nicaragua guarantee the right to know the truth about victims and their families; as well as implement a multidisciplinary program in order to address the psychological impacts of the population due to these events, particularly for victims of human rights violations and their families, through actions based on a human rights approach and formulated from a gender based perspective. In addition, the IACHR recalls, in accordance with its main guidelines for a comprehensive reparations policy, that States must offer spaces for victims to participate in decisions regarding the implementation of reparation mechanisms and policies. The understanding of the Commission and the Inter-American Court is well established that adequate reparation must be comprehensive, requiring not only financial compensation, but also guarantees of non-repetition, measures of satisfaction and physical and psychological rehabilitation. Likewise, the IACHR is concerned about the lack of consideration of the victims of repression in the country and their families in the peace and reconsideration policy adopted by the State.

"No state policy on dialogue, peace and reconciliation can omit the victims, without seriously violating their international human rights obligations," said Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, Rapporteur for Nicaragua and Head of the Unit on Memory, Truth and Justice. "Reconciliation policies must guarantee the participation of all the actors involved, including civil society, and especially the victims and their families," she added.

"Nicaragua faces the urgent challenge of overcoming impunity in cases of serious human rights violations that have occurred in the country; the recently approved law does not contribute to this end. The State authorities are obliged to adopt all the necessary measures to facilitate the access of victims to adequate and effective resources both to denounce these violations, as well as to achieve the repair of the damage suffered and in this way contribute to prevent its recurrence,” said the President of the IACHR, Margarette May Macaulay.

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. 021/19