Will the OAS Human Rights Organization Return to Nicaragua?

IACHR waiting for government approval to return to Nicaragua

Paolo Abraro, executive secretary to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission during his most recent visit to Nicaragua. Photo: Carlos Herrera / Confidencial

Meseni continues monitoring, but still lacks approval for a country team

The executive secretary affirms that, if the IACHR returns, it would be the guarantor for the fulfillment of pending agreements; but that depends on the OAS and Ortega


By Ivette Munguía  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – According to executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Pablo Abrao, the approval of a resolution on Nicaragua at the 49th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), would provide for IAHCR’s return to Nicaragua, where it would serve as guarantor to ensure compliance with the pending agreements between the Ortega government and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy.

On the eve of the OAS’ annual meeting, Abrao told journalist Carlos F. Chamorro, on the program Esta Noche, that the IACHR’s return is subject both to approval of the resolution by the General Assembly as well as to approval by the Ortega government, which ordered the expulsion of the agency at the end of December 2018, when the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) confirmed that the regime had committed crimes against humanity.  

“The functioning of the Meseni (the Nicaraguan monitoring mechanism) is independent of the government’s consent, but the presence of a team in the field does depend on consent,” Abrao explained.

“Mediation space”

The executive secretary of the IACHR, one of the key international witnesses to the Ortega repression that left at least 325 dead between April and September of 2018, estimates that there is a pending agenda to be implemented in Nicaragua, and is of the opinion that the Commission could continue as a “mediation space” for the construction of trust as the accords are implemented. 

At the 49th General Assembly, which concludes this Friday in Medellin, Colombia, a proposal for a resolution of the Working Group for Nicaragua, headed by Canada, will be discussed.  The proposal before the OAS calls for the creation of a commission “within the framework of Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter”, so that it may carry out diplomatic efforts at the highest level to seek a peaceful and effective solution to Nicaragua’s political and social crisis, and to submit a report within a period of three months”.  

Several released political prisoners, human rights defenders, members of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, and the Blue and White National Unity have all come to Medellín.  The opposition has stated its rejection of one point of the proposal: a three-month period for a commission to present a report to the Permanent Council on compliance with the agreements signed by the Government at the negotiating table. These are the same agreements that Daniel Ortega has failed to comply with.

Abrao sees the resolution as “very explicit” in saying that it requests the agency’s return to support civil society in the reconstruction of its rights. “We have to wait and see if the OAS is going to confirm this request that the Permanent Council had already made, if the General Assembly will confirm it and then how the government authorities of Nicaragua will respond,” he stated.  

Security protocol urged for the return

Abrao also called for the creation of a security protocol for the IAHCR’s return “with guarantees of protection” to all those who have left the country fleeing Ortega’s repression.  In addition, he pointed out the need to return legal status to all the NGOs that were stripped of their status,  to work on the return of the diaspora and begin to rebuild the lives of all the students who were forced to leave the country to protect themselves.

“We must build a national plan of reparations to the victims, we must build a national plan of public memory that is pluralistic, that respects all perspectives — and that all depends on the actions of international organizations that have the expertise to implement such a plan – we’ll see how the government reacts to this proposal.”

Monitoring from Washington

Although the regime expelled the IACHR delegations from the country in December 2018, the executive secretary of the Commission pointed out that the Meseni mechanism continues to monitor the situation in Nicaragua from Washington, and recently confirmed that it has gathered more than 1500 testimonies of Ortega’s repression.

Abrao lamented the persistence of “the atmosphere of repression and intimidation” in Nicaragua and said that the release of political prisoners was “just a first step” in the agenda necessary for the reconstruction of the country’s freedoms: the right to mobilize, to meeting, freedom of expression and press, all of which continue to be violated by the Ortega regime, which has imposed a de facto state of emergency.

After the release of 56 political prisoners, on June 11, among them the main leaders of the civic protest, relatives and national organizations charge that there are still more than 80 political prisoners in the dictatorship’s jails.

The executive secretary of the IACHR recalled that, since before the agency’s expulsion from Nicaragua, the Ortega government has claimed to be victim of an attempted coup d’état. However, the Commission has verified that there is no evidence for such an argument.  “All the witnesses we heard referred to people who were dissatisfied with the government and who thought they could go out freely to protest,” he said.

In September 2018, the IACHR reported that a de facto state of siege has taken hold in Nicaragua and has done away with public liberties in the country. “There is still a pattern of administration in the country as seen in the restriction of public liberties, decrees by the police that prohibited protests, and behaviors that are not compatible with the rule of law,” noted Abrao.

He reiterated that for these reasons, the Commission has denounced the state of siege, which violates the country’s constitutional provisions.