Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) obtained today the consent of the Nicaraguan State to create an international mechanism to investigate violent events that have occurred in the country since April 18.
The IACHR proposed the creation of an Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI, by its Spanish acronym) whose autonomy and independence are both guaranteed, to assist and support the investigation of such violence. This proposal stemmed from recommendation 3 in the IACHR’s Preliminary Observations, published at the end of the working visit to Nicaragua that the Commission carried out May 17-21, 2018.
The GIEI for Nicaragua is set to consist of four people, all of them with a high-level technical background and a proven track record in terms of protecting human rights. Members of the group will be selected by the IACHR and formally appointed by the Secretary General of the OAS. To carry out its work, the GIEI will have its own trusted technical team.
Among other tasks, the GIEI will be charged with: technically assessing lines of investigation and recommending actions regarding the various levels of legal responsibility; assessing whether investigators are adequately and fully pursuing every line of investigation, and whether they are applying the appropriate legal concepts to classify possible offenses and their perpetrators and, if necessary, recommending what actions should be taken to ensure such goals are achieved.
In order to carry out those tasks, the Nicaraguan State will grant experts access to documentation held by the Public Prosecutor’s Office on ongoing investigations and criminal cases, to public information on those events and to infrastructure, resources and funds, as well as the safety they need to do their work.
The GIEI, in turn, will be entitled to suggest to Nicaraguan authorities the adoption of additional measures to guarantee the safety of anyone who cooperates with investigations, whether as a witness, expert or aide.
Further, the GIEI will consider developing a plan to assist victims of the events that have taken place since April 18 and their families, in compliance with the highest international standards and with the region’s best practices. The group will recommend actions that need to be implemented to grant victims and their families the attention and the comprehensive reparations they require.
The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts is set to have a six-month mandate, which could be extended upon agreement by both parties. The GIEI will notify the State of the partial and final results of its efforts and of any recommendations the group deems appropriate, and it will draft a final public report on its work.
The IACHR will follow up on the recommendations of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts.
“For the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the decision to create the GIEI for Nicaragua is of crucial importance, since it is an opportunity to assist Nicaraguan authorities in their obligation to investigate the violent events that have occurred in the context of widespread protests in the country,” said the IACHR’s President, Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay.
The IACHR’s Rapporteur for Nicaragua, Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, who led the working visit to Nicaragua, said: “This is without a doubt one of the key recommendations to be able to make progress regarding justice and peace for the country. The next step will be to select members of the GIEI for Nicaragua and, soon, to launch the group. The GIEI for Nicaragua will base its work on the IACHR’s Preliminary Observations following the visit.”
For IACHR Executive Secretary Paulo Abrão, “the creation of the GIEI seeks to respond to the widespread call from Nicaraguan society for concrete, credible steps to enforce the right to truth and to duly identify anyone responsible for acts perpetrated in the context of the serious human rights crisis the IACHR observed, as well as to grant comprehensive assistance to victims.” Abrão added that “the GIEI’s autonomy and independence will need to be guaranteed to the highest possible level.”
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.