Quito, Ecuador, November 11, 2019. During the 174th period of sessions of the IACHR,
nine civil society organizations exposed the deep deterioration of judicial
independence in Nicaragua, where the courts have failed to guarantee the rights
of Nicaraguans to access to justice, due process and judicial guarantees in the
context of the democratic crisis that began on April 18, 2018.
During the hearing “Challenges for judicial autonomy
and independence in Nicaragua”, the organizations highlighted how the
Nicaraguan judiciary was brought into the government’s scheme to violate human
rights, facilitating the criminalization of protest and the work of human
rights defenders and generating conditions that guarantee impunity for human
rights violations perpetrated by regime officials.
“In Nicaragua, there is no independence or autonomy of
powers. The co-optation of the judiciary by the Ortega-Murillo regime has led
to its acting under party control, built through tarnished selection processes
and appointments, with the absence of publicity, transparency and citizen
participation; privileging political affinity over appointment according to
merits and professional capacities that guarantee a judiciary that is
objective, independent and subject to the rule of law,” said Georgina Ruiz, of
the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH, for its initials in Spanish).
The culpability of the National Police, the National
Prosecuting Authority and the Institute of Forensic Medicine for not complying
with their obligations, allowing the commission of human rights violations and
facilitating impunity for violations committed by the State or paramilitary
groups was also denounced.
An absent state
As usual during recent IACHR hearings, the Nicaraguan state
did not attend the appointment. For the organizations, this exemplifies how the
Ortega regime continues to deny its responsibility in the serious human rights
crisis that the country is facing, as well as its obligation to guarantee the
autonomy and independence of the justice institutions.
“Once again, we regret the absence of the State of
Nicaragua, which did not send any information to justify it, as has happened
before,” said Commissioner Antonia Urrejola at the beginning of her speech.
Urrejola especially greeted the mothers of murdered youth and the victims who
attended the hearing, recognizing the hard work they do in pursuit of justice
By the end of the hearing, the organizations requested
that IACHR urge the State of Nicaragua to:
repression and criminalization; and guarantee the full exercise of human
rights, including access to justice for victims of murder, torture and rape.
the full constitutional guarantees for the exercise of citizens’ rights.
seized or stolen property to all victims of repression.
the amparo appeals presented by
the organizations that were repressed during the crisis (an amparo
procedure is a request for a legal ruling that protects basic rights)
the autonomy and independence of the judicial institutions their adherence to
the procedures established in the Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua and
international human rights treaties, as well as the ratification of specific
international instruments, including those related to the administration of justice.
The hearing was convened by CENIDH, the Center for
Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the Nicaragua Never+ Human Rights
Collective, the Mesoamerican Initiative for Women Human Rights Defenders
(IM-Defenders), the Nicaraguan Initiative for Human Rights Defenders (IND), the
International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality),
JASS Mesoamerica, the Autonomous Movement of Women-Nicaragua (MAM- Nicaragua)
and the Legal Defense Unit of Nicaragua.