Nicaragua: Acosta et al. v. Nicaragua, Inter-American Court of Human Rights

On the 25th of March 2017, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights pronounced a sentence regarding the case brought before them by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights regarding the murder of Francisco García Valle, husband of human rights defender María Luisa

The prosecuting party claimed accused the State of Nicaragua of not pursuing the necessary investigations on whether the killing was linked to the activities carried out by María Luisa Acosta in her profession as a human rights defender. Moreover, they made several recommendations, amongst which the recommendation to “adopt legislative, institutional and judicial measures aimed at reducing the exposure of vulnerable human rights defenders to risk”.

The Court pronounced itself in favor of this recommendations, holding the State of Nicaragua to a sentence containing namely the following elements:

223. In view of the foregoing, the Court deems it appropriate to order the State to develop protection mechanisms and investigation protocols for situations of risk, threats and attacks against human rights defenders, which take into account the risks inherent to such activity and lead to the determination and eventual punishment of those responsible and adequate reparation, as well as to strengthen mechanisms to effectively protect witnesses, victims and family members who are at risk as a result of their involvement in such investigations, taking into account at least the following requirements:

a) the participation of human rights defenders, civil society organisations and experts in the elaboration of the norms that could regulate a protection programme for the group in question, in which the participation of the Nicaraguan ombudsperson’s office (Procuraduría para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos) would be particularly relevant, within the framework of its competences and the programmes it is currently developing;

b) the protection programme should address the problem in a comprehensive and inter-institutional manner according to the risk of each situation and adopt immediate measures to deal with complaints from human rights defenders;

c) the creation of a risk analysis model that allows the risk and protection needs of each defender or group to be adequately determined;

d) the creation of an information management system on the situation of prevention and protection of human rights defenders;

e) the promotion of a culture of legitimisation and protection of the work of human rights defenders, and

f) the provision of sufficient human and financial resources to respond to the real protection needs of human rights defenders.

224. Likewise, the State must present annual reports, the first within one year, on the actions taken to implement these mechanisms and protocols. In this regard, the Court may request the office of the Nicaraguan Human Rights Ombudsman to submit its own reports in the framework of the supervision of compliance with this Judgment.”

Excerpt from the Judgment of the Inter-American Court in Acosta v Nicaragua_paragraphs 223-4 referring to the creation of a protection mechanism and others (2017).

Find the original document here in Spanish (Inter-American Court of Human Rights).