President of Human Rights Council appoints members of investigative body on Nicaragua

Geneva, 24 May 2022 - The President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Federico Villegas (Argentina), today announced the appointment of Jan-Michael Simon of Germany, Alexandro Álvarez of Chile and Ángela Maria Buitrago of Colombia to serve as the three independent members of the recently established Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua. Mr. Simon will serve as Chair.

With resolution 49/L.20, on the promotion and protection of human rights in Nicaragua, adopted on 31 March 2022, the Human Rights Council decided to establish a group of three human rights experts on Nicaragua, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council. The Group of Human Rights Experts was mandated to “conduct thorough and independent investigations into all alleged human rights violations and abuses committed in Nicaragua since April 2018, including the possible gender dimensions of such violations and abuses, and their structural root causes.”

The three-person group was further requested to “establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations and abuses, to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyze information and evidence and, where possible, to identify those responsible, and to make such information accessible and usable in support of ongoing and future accountability efforts.”

The President of the Human Rights Council sought recommendations from various stakeholders and expressions of interest to find highly qualified and impartial candidates to fill these positions.

The Group of Human Rights Experts, established for an initial duration of one year, was requested to “make recommendations with a view to improving the situation of human rights, to provide guidance on access to justice and accountability, as appropriate, and to ensure a victim-centred approach, including by addressing the impact of multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination.”

The investigative body was also requested to engage with all relevant stakeholders, including the Government of Nicaragua, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, international human rights organizations, United Nations agencies and civil society, with a view to exchanging information and providing support for national, regional and international efforts to promote accountability for human rights violations and abuses in Nicaragua.

The experts, who will serve in their personal capacities, were requested to submit a report to the Human Rights Council at its 52nd session in February-March 2023, during an interactive dialogue.

Biographies of the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua

Jan-Michael Simon, chair (Germany)
Jan-Michael Simon is an expert on penal law, criminal politics and international public law. A lawyer by training, he regularly combines research with fieldwork and practice on issues relating to human rights, the rule of law, fighting impunity and anti-corruption, mainly in the Americas, particularly in Central America. Mr. Simon currently serves as a senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law.

Mr. Simon has worked for international missions against the impunity of human rights violations and corruption sponsored by the United Nations (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala, as Senior Legal Officer) and the Organization of American States (Misión de Apoyo contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras, as Chief Adviser on Corruption and Impunity, 2015-2017). He also worked as an investigator of the UN-sponsored Commission for Historical Clarification in Guatemala investigating human rights violations and acts of violence in the internal armed conflict. He also led the European Commission mission in security and justice matters in Guatemala. Besides his native German, he is proficient in English, Spanish and Portuguese and speaks intermediate French.

Alexandro Álvarez, member (Chile)
Alexandro Álvarez is a lawyer and law professor with diverse experience in legal, administrative, public policy, and legislative matters. His practice focuses primarily on international human rights law. Most recently, Mr. Álvarez acted as an international consultant to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on human rights, justice and the rule of law in Nicaragua (2021- 2022). He previously worked with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Special Follow-Up Mechanism for Nicaragua (2018- 2021), where he monitored the human rights situation in Nicaragua, coordinated the interdisciplinary team in the context of the current human rights crisis, and also worked on the ground as a human rights specialist.

Mr. Álvarez has held numerous legal and political advisory roles with the Chilean government, focusing on human rights and indigenous peoples. He served as the senior legislative aide for the Indigenous Representative of the National Congress; legal and political advisor to the Ministry of Interior and Public Security; legal aide to the Health Minister Cabinet; legislative aide to the Ministry Secretariat General of the Presidency; senior legal counsel to the National Corporation for Indigenous Development; and legal advisor to the Cabinet of the Undersecretary of the Planning Ministry.

Ángela Maria Buitrago, member (Colombia)
Ángela Maria Buitrago is a Colombian lawyer and former prosecutor. She is also a criminal law professor at the Universidad Externado de Colombia. She has extensive experience in criminal law and human rights at the professional level. In addition, she is well acquainted with international systems and the functioning of expert investigation groups, as she was part of the Grupo Interdisciplinario de Expertos Independientes (GIEI) in Mexico. She has also presented numerous expert opinions before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, including from a gender perspective.

Buitrago holds a Master in Criminal Law and Doctor of Law and Sociology from the Universidad Externado de Colombia. She is a member of the Colombian Institute of Colombian Procedural Law, the Ibero-American Institute of Procedural Law, and the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Santa Fe de Bogotá and Cundinamarca.