IACHR Welcomes Release of Political Prisoners in Nicaragua but Rejects Arbitrary Deprivation of Nationality

February 13, 2023

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Washington, D.C. ? The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the release from prison of more than 200 individuals who had been deprived of liberty for political reasons in Nicaragua. However, the Commission rejects the deportation and the arbitrary deprivation of nationality that the State has imposed on these individuals.

In the early hours of February 9, 2023, the release from prison of 222 individuals who had been deprived of liberty for political reasons in Nicaragua was announced. These individuals were deported to the United States that same day, in compliance with a decision made by the First Chamber of the Managua Court of Appeals ordering their immediate deportation.

The IACHR acknowledges that these releases end years of arbitrary detention for the affected individuals, in appalling conditions of detention, for being regarded as critics of the Nicaraguan government, exercising their legitimate fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, and association, and defending human rights.

The Commission repudiates the fact that these releases have come hand in hand with the arbitrary deprivation of Nicaraguan citizenship for the affected individuals, leaving most of them stateless. The Commission further notes the many human rights violations these individuals have been victims of over several years.

Also on February 9, 2023, the National Assembly passed a reform of Article 21 of Nicaragua?s Political Constitution, to stipulate that the acquisition, loss, and recovery of Nicaraguan nationality are set to be regulated by law and that ?traitors lose their status as Nicaraguan citizens.? The National Assembly also passed Act 1145, regulating the loss of Nicaraguan nationality stipulated in Article 21 of the country?s Political Constitution, noting that individuals convicted of violations of Act 1055?on the defense of ?the people?s rights to independence, sovereignty, and self-determination for peace??are set to lose their Nicaraguan nationality.

The American Convention holds the right to nationality and expressly says that no one may be arbitrarily deprived of their nationality. The Inter-American Principles on the rights of migrants further stress that all individuals have a non-derogable right to a nationality and not to be stateless and to retain their nationality, and that no one may arbitrarily be denied their nationality, lose it, or be deprived of it.

The IACHR has stressed that all individuals have the right to a nationality and that this right cannot be revoked. Arbitrary deprivation of citizenship?particularly as a politically motivated punishment?is a violation of international human rights law. It is also worth stressing that Nicaragua has been since 2013 a party to the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.

The IACHR urges Nicaragua to ensure full access to and enjoyment of the right to nationality, and to take measures to prevent and eradicate statelessness. The Commission therefore calls on the State to repeal recent legislative changes that violate the applicable international and inter-American standards and to provide comprehensive reparations for the rights violations committed against these individuals since they were first detained.

The IACHR further calls on States in the Americas to implement or strengthen regional cooperation and shared responsibility mechanisms to address and acknowledge the issues affecting stateless individuals, and consequently to grant these individuals the special protection they need. This includes granting them access to their territory and procedures to ensure international protection, and taking social inclusion measures in favor of these individuals, without discrimination.

Through its Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI, by its Spanish acronym), the IACHR will continue to monitor the human rights situation of the 222 individuals who have been released from prison. Finally, the IACHR urges the State to release all persons who are arbitrarily detained in the context of the current crisis in Nicaragua, without linking that release to deportation and the loss of citizenship.

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. 021/23

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