“In November 2017, the SCA noted the concerns expressed by the Committee on Migrant Workers regarding the independence and effectiveness of the PDDH, and encouraged the PDDH to provide its response to these concerns.
The SCA acknowledges that the PDDH replied that the Government respects and ensures that all migrant workers and their families enjoy the rights recognized by the Convention on the Protection
of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. The PDDH further indicated that it has a mandate to investigate all matters related to migrants workers and outlined its various powers in its enabling law.
The SCA considers that the response given by the PDDH is insufficient as it does not address the substance of the concerns raised by the Committee in terms of effectiveness and independence.
Also in November 2017, the SCA encouraged the PDDH to provide:
– any reports issued by the PDDH in relation to the human rights situation in Nicaragua, as well as its press releases, public statements and any recommendations made to the Government or the National Assembly related to human rights;
– its submissions to the international and regional human rights system;
– information about actions the PDHH has undertaken in relation to the request of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to undertake a visit to Nicaragua;
– Follow-up information on the actions the PDDH has undertaken to address cases related to violations of human rights, including that of Maria Luisa Acosta.
The SCA acknowledges that the PDDH provided a list of 99 publications which describe its activities, public announcements and presentations to the National Assembly. The SCA notes that these postings relate to a variety of topics. However, there is insufficient evidence contained in these documents that the PDDH has engaged in critical assessments of the human rights situation in the country.
With respect to its interactions with the international and regional human rights system, the SCA acknowledges that the PDDH indicates that it maintains outstanding participation at the international level, noting its membership and participation in a variety of bodies. The SCA further acknowledges that the PDDH has provided a list of its submissions to the international human rights system since 2010.
With respect to the visit by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the SCA acknowledges that the PDDH indicated in its submission that it had received no formal communication from the Commission referring to an intention to visit Nicaragua and that any such visit would need to be approved by the Executive. The PDDH further indicated that it was “pleased with the good working relationships between the government and the Inter-American system”.
The SCA is of the view that the response provided by the PDDH in its submission is insufficient, as it fails to acknowledge the role of an NHRI in advocating for the government to interact with the international and regional human rights systems.
The SCA acknowledges that it received information during the interview with the PDDH that the Executive has now approved the request of the Inter-American Commission to visit the country. It encourages the PDDH to actively participate in this visit.
With respect to information on activities the PDDH has taken to address cases related to violations of human rights, including that of Maria Luisa Acosta2, the SCA acknowledges that the PDDH indicates that it posted the ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights relating to the case of Maria Luisa Acosta on its website.
The SCA is of the view that the response provided by the PDDH does not provide sufficient indication that it has taken adequate actions to address cases related to violations of human rights.
With respect to this specific case of Maria Luisa Acosta, the SCA acknowledges that the decision of the Inter-American Court specifically required the PDDH to post the decision on its website. However, the SCA is of the view that posting a decision on its website without accompanying critical commentary is an inadequate response of an NHRI to a finding of gross violations of human rights. Further, the SCA notes that the website of the PDDH has been and continues to be shut down, and that the PDDH is unable to indicate when it can again be accessed.
In view of the above, the SCA is not satisfied that the PDDH has acted in a manner that adequately demonstrates its independence as an NHRI.
The SCA notes that the Paris Principles require an NHRI to be independent from government in its structure, composition, decision-making and method of operation. It must be constituted and empowered to consider and determine the strategic priorities and activities of the NHRI based solely on its determination of the human rights priorities in the country, free from political interference.
The SCA notes that the real and perceived independence of an NHRI is fundamental to the Paris Principles. It stresses the importance of public confidence in the independence of a NHRI.
The SCA encourages the PDDH to promote and protect human rights in an independent manner, ensuring respect for all human rights, democratic principles and the strengthening of the rule of law in all circumstances, and without exception.”