Washington, DC—On July 3, the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI, by its Spanish acronym) began their initial visit to Nicaragua where they will support and contribute to investigations concerning the human rights abuses that have left more than 200 people dead since April 18. The OAS’s Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) had urged the Nicaraguan government to agree to an independent investigative body, and announced the Commissioners on Tuesday. The four members of the GIEI, Amérigo Incalcaterra, Sofía Macher, Claudia Paz y Paz and Pablo Parenti, are all specialists in human rights and international law, with important and relevant experience. The GIEI will have a six-month renewable mandate to support current investigations, review records, files and interview witnesses, ensure that the proper legal and judicial avenues are being used to investigate crimes, and recommend further actions by the judicial system.
“Attacks on demonstrators since April and over the past weekend underscores how important the work of the GIEI will be,” said Geoff Thale, the Vice President of Programs at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a leading research and advocacy organization advancing human rights in the Americas. “The Nicaraguan government must stop its attacks on demonstrators exercising their right to freedom of speech and assembly, and fully cooperate with the GIEI in the investigation of abuses.”
Protestors have been in the streets over the last several months calling for President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo to resign. The Nicaraguan Catholic Church has been mediating a national dialogue between the government and civil society groups, in an effort to seek a resolution to the crisis (although the government’s commitment to that dialogue remains unclear).
“The international community should call on President Ortega and his government to listen to the petitions of civil society, and engage in prompt, good faith negotiations so as to find a peaceful solution to this political crisis,” Thale said.