REPORT ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN NICARAGUA
of the “on-site” observation in
Republic of Nicaragua
October 3 – 12, 1978)
At 7 a.m. on Thursday, October 5, the Special Commission left for León.
It held a meeting at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN)
attended by, among others, the President and Vice President of UNAN, Drs.
Mariano Fiallos Oyanguren and Santiago Chaves Escoto, respectively, the Bishop
of León and President of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, Msgr. Manuel
Salazar Espinoza, the President of the Bar Association of León, Dr. Oscar
Herdocia Lacayo, the President of the Red Cross of León, Ing. Pedro Bustillo
Lacayo, the Director of the El Centroamericano newspaper, Dr. Rodolfo
Abaunza Salinas and Dr. Julio C. Terán, of the Medical Society of León.
During the meeting, which was most useful, the Commission listened to
presentations of a general nature, delivered by various representatives, which
dealt with diverse aspects of national life, from colonial times to the most
The Commission then divided into four groups and visited the business
area of León, the new district of Guadalupe, a place called “La Arrocera”,
San Juan barrio (neighborhood) and areas surrounding the Nica movie
house, the headquarters of the Central Obrera, San José barrio, next to the
Hippodrome, the headquarters of the Red Cross, the San Vicente Hospital-School,
the National Institute of Social Security (INSS), the Laborío barrio,
the Church of San Nicolás, the School of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, San Pedro
Sur de Subtiava and Zaragosa barrios. At these places, the members of the
Commission spoke directly to a great number of residents of these neighborhoods.
In the Hospital San Vicente, the Commission was told of a doctor who had been
arrested in the midst of performing an operation and was obliged to abandon his
patient. This was ratified by the director of the Hospital and by the Medical
Association. During its visit to the National Institute of Social Security, the
Commission was also able to prove that the third and fourth floors were still
occupied by the National Guard and that the wounded who were being treated there
could not present their testimonies because of the fear caused by the guards who
were constantly watching their rooms. A complaint was also received from a woman
who stated that members of the Sandinista Front had wounded her husband, leaving
him an invalid. While the Special Commission was making these visits, personnel
from the Secretariat were interviewing those persons who wished to present
complaints of violations of human rights.
At approximately 3 p.m., the Commission visited the Command Post of the National Guard in León, under the command of Col. Simeón González. The interview with this officer dealt with recent events occurring in León, the members of the military staff under his command, as well as questions regarding people detained in the jail of that city. Immediately after this interview, the Commission crossed the street to visit the prisoners in the Cuartel Destacamento of the National Guard, popularly known as “Cárcel La Veintiuno”. There, the Commission proceeded to interrogate the eight prisoners on aspects related to their detention and imprisonment.
On Friday, October 6, members of the Special Commission visited the city
of Estelí, arriving there at 9 a.m. The Special Commission visited the school,
Nuestra Señora del Rosario, where its members had the opportunity to talk to
several people who offered their opinions of the general situation of human
rights in Nicaragua and of the events that had recently taken place in Estelí.
As they had done in León, the Commission broke up into several groups and
immediately visited most of the city, interviewing residents at the following
places: the business center and surrounding areas (the Bank of America, the
National Bank, INFONAC, the Nicaraguan Bank, the Inmobiliaria, etc.), the
Cathedral, the barrios of Bohío, Bella Vista, El Rosario, San Antonio, and El
Calvario, as well as its church and other areas.
In Estelí the Commission also interviewed the local authorities among
them, the Governor, Mayor, President of the Tribunal de Segunda Instancia,
authorities in charge of public services and representatives of peasants and
workers. These officials reported on what had happened in September and the
abuses which, according to them, were committed by members of the Frente
Sandinista. The Commission was informed during those interviews and by other
reliable sources of the death of a priest by members of the National Guard and
the detention before September 9, of a broad range of the inhabitants of Estelí,
who had yet to be judged or sentenced. During the afternoon, the Commission
visited the Command Post of the National Guard of Estelí, where it interviewed
General Armando Fernández, Chief of the Military Staff of the National Guard,
Col. Gonzalo Martínez, local commander of the National Guard in Estelí, and
Major Arturo Vallejo. General Fernández explained his presence in the city of
Estelí and presented a report of the fighting that had taken place there. The
members of the Special Commission raised several questions about the vast
destruction in Estelí and the reasons for the bombardment and machine-gunning
by the Nicaraguan Air Force, which were allegedly carried out indiscriminately
against the civilian population; General Fernández, basing his reasoning on
military considerations, gave the Special Commission an explanation of the
development of the events, denying that there had been any indiscriminate
bombing or machine-gunning of the city.
Once the interview had ended, the Commission visited with approximately
one dozen prisoners who had been there since September 6 of this year and spoke
to them in private and at length about their detention and the conditions under
which they were being held.
The Special Commission then traveled to the city of Matagalpa, but due to
the late hour, only established a brief contact with a few people in that city.
The Commission decided that it would return for another visit, which it did on
TO MASAYA, DIRIAMBA, JINOTEPE AND GRANADA
On Saturday, October 7, the Special Commission divided into two groups,
one traveling to Masaya and the other to Diriamba, Jinotepe and Granada.
The members of the Special Commission that traveled to Masaya interviewed
representatives of the Catholic Church, and business, political, humanitarian
and professional groups of that city. They also visited the Santa Teresita
school, the market, the Salesian school, and Monimbó barrio where they listened
to testimonies from several people. The Commission ascertained that the tower of
the church Nuestra Señora de la Asunción was still being occupied by members
of the National Guard. While the Commission visited the city, staff from the
Secretariat of the IACHR spoke with many persons who came to an office set up in
that town to report violations of human rights.
The Commission also visited the Cuartel General of the National Guard
under the command of General Fermín Meneses Gallo, who gave an account of what
had taken place in Masaya starting on July 3 of this year, when he had assumed
command of the post. He denied complaints received by the Commission that troops
of the Guard had mistreated several priests on various occasions and added that,
on the contrary, weapons had once been found in the Magdalena Church, and on
another occasion a religious service was interrupted because a bomb had been
thrown at the Cuartel General (barracks and headquarters) of the Guard from the
church. He said that the troops had behaved correctly with regard to the clergy
and churchgoers. The General also stated that in the attack on Masaya the
Sandinistas were armed not only with pistols and 22-caliber rifles, but also
with heavy weapons. He further rejected the complaints of participation of
“mercenaries” in the fighting, stating that all the members of the Guard are
The Commission then privately interviewed the 47 prisoners held in the
Masaya jail. During this visit, the presence of a member of the National Guard
was detected among the prisoners; upon interrogation by members of the
Commission, he replied that he had been ordered to mingle among the prisoners.
An energetic protest was made to General Meneses and he ordered the withdrawal
of the soldier. After receiving full testimony on the personal situation of
several prisoners and of the prison conditions, the Special Commission returned
Early in the morning of Saturday, October 7, three other members of the
Special Commission visited Diriamba. After visiting parts of the town, where
they inspected some buildings that had been affected by the events of last
September, such as the Basilica and the Churches of San José and San Caralapio,
they separated into two groups.
While one of them, assisted by the Secretariat staff, received complaints
from those residents who wished to present them, another group went to the
Military Command Post where they inspected the prison cells.
A little before noon, the members of the Special Commission traveled to
Jinotepe. There, in the San Pablo house, they listened to testimonies and
information provided by various persons who represented the local residents.
Members of the Special Commission and Secretariat remained there and received
complaints of alleged violations of human rights.
Meanwhile, another member and one lawyer from the Secretariat visited the
Command Post of the National Guard where they were received by its Commander,
Col. Rafael Lola, from whom they requested information concerning the
circumstances under which certain deaths had occurred in the area under his
jurisdiction and with regard to the political prisoners who were being held in
the prison of the command post.
During the interview, Commander Lola confirmed the death of a 12 year old
boy, Manuel Jesús Rivera, known as “the mascot”, who had been
machine-gunned to death only two days earlier (October 5), and three days after
the fighting, by soldiers of the National Guard who discovered him hiding in the
market of Diriamba. Commander Lola alleged that “he was a boy who helped the
guerrillas”. Col. Lola agreed to send a written report to the offices of the
Commission in Managua explaining the circumstances of the Rivera Boy's death.
However, by the date of the departure of the last member of the mission, October
18, it had not been received.
This group also closely inspected the prisons, verifying the deplorable
sanitary and crowded conditions. Many of the prisoners stated that they had been
On Saturday afternoon October 7, members of the Special Commission
traveled to Granada where they met in the Alhambra Hotel with a group of
lawyers, businessmen, and representatives of the Red Cross and the Permanent
Commission of Human Rights in Granada. They informed the Commission that
although Granada was the only important city in the coastal Pacific area that
had not been affected by the events of last September, it had not escaped the
general repression plaguing the entire country. During the meeting, members of
the Special Commission also talked with several lawyers regarding certain cases
which had previously been submitted to the consideration of the IACHR and which
affected residents of Granada.
As had been the case in Diriamba and Jinotepe, the members of the Special
Commission then broke up into two groups, one went to the church of the city
where numerous complaints of alleged violations of human rights were presented;
the second group visited the “La Pólvora” jail, where they spoke in private
with several political prisoners, who, in general, stated that they had been
well treated by the commander and other officers of the National Guard of
Granada, although some of them alleged that they had been tortured before coming
to “La Pólvora”.
The Special Commission returned to Managua at 7 p.m.
VISITS TO DISTRICTS OF MANAGUA
On Sunday, October 8, the Commission visited the parishes of the
following densely populated district of Managua: Riguero, OPEN Nº 3, las Américas
Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4, Colonia “14 de septiembre” and Lerrey-naga. The members
of the Commission spoke with residents in all of the districts and received
complaints of alleged violations of human rights from several persons who seemed
to be afraid of the National Guard, a fear that was noticed everywhere.
That same day the Commission also visited the Tenth Police Precinct,
under the command of Sergeant Alberto Gutiérrez. The detention and transfer to
that prison of a young 15 year old had been reported to the Commission by
relatives, who, however, had not been able to determine the exact place of his
detention. A search did not turn up the youth but the Special Commission did
speak with some prisoners.
VISITS TO CHINANDEGA AND MATAGALPA
On Monday, October 9, the Special Commission divided into two groups in
order to visit Chinandega and Matagalpa.
Shortly after 9 a.m., members of the Special Commission arrived in
Chinandega. In order to advise the residents of the presence of the Commission,
a brief press release was drafted and broadcast over the two local radio
stations. The Commission held an interesting interview with Msgr. Padilla of the
Santa Ana Parish.
The Commission then made an extensive trip around town, covering among
other places, the Colonia Venerio, El Calvario barrio, the Church of “La
Hermita”, the Red Cross and Fire Department. In Chinandega, the Commission was
able to verify the indiscriminate bombing of Colonia Venerio and the extensive
machine-gunning of the “La Hermita” church with large-caliber weapons.
Complaints were received about abuses by the National Guard in appropriating
objects during house searches. The Commission inspected the place where young
people who had died in combat had been buried and received complaints from the
Red Cross that they had not been allowed to carry out their humanitarian
mission. Furthermore, the Commission saw that the primary school had been bombed
and machine-gunned and noted that there were three graves on the school grounds,
which according to some residents, held the remains of nine youths killed by the
Meanwhile, the Secretariat staff remained in the parish house of the
Calvario Church, receiving people who wished to testify or complain of
violations of human rights.
In the afternoon, the Commission went to the Cuartel of the National
Guard and after talking at length with Lt. Col. Oscar Gómez Urbina, Deputy
Commander of the Chinandega Cuartel, they inspected the prison and met in
private with eight political prisoners. The Commission then returned to Managua.
The group began its visit to Matagalpa with a general tour of the city,
and immediately thereafter received complaints from various persons of the area
in an office set up in the city. The Special Commission visited the Jefatura Política
of Matagalpa, where it met with Dr. Carlos Rivas Cerna, who, besides being a
District Civil Judge (Juez del Distrito en lo Civil), had that same day been
appointed Political Judge (Juez Político). The interview dealt with the duties
of the Political Judge and the authority of the Police Judge (Juez de Policía).
During the meeting, Mr. Luis Zeledón Beltrán, Police Judge, arrived and spoke
at length about his work. This interview, dealing with certain aspects of the
Judicial Power, particularly with the procedures pertaining to the Police
Regulations, proved to be very useful to the members of the Special Commission.
In addition, a visit was made to the District Criminal Judge, Dr. Alberto Napoleón
González Cordero; he, too, explained matters related to his work.
The Special Commission next visited Msgr. Julián Barni, Bishop of
Matagalpa in the Ecclesiastic Curia. He presented report on the events that had
taken place in Matagalpa and gave a complete account of their causes.
At the next meeting, Mr. Eudoro Reyes, President of the Red Cross of
Matagalpa, and other members of that group, gave a detailed account to the
Special Commission of the work carried out by their institution during the
During the visit, the Commission visited a house where the body of the
youth Salvador Argüello was lying. This young man had been arrested on
September 30, and freed on October 2. His body had been found, with visible
marks of torture, at 6 a.m. that day in a trash bin in the streets of Matagalpa.
Finally, the Special Commission visited the Command Post of Matagalpa and
talked to its Commander, Col. Rafael Martínez, who made some general statements
on the events, but stated that he had arrived in Matagalpa only three days
previously. With regard to the case of Salvador Argüello he stated that he had
been found with a package of marijuana and that apparently his death was
drug-related; he admitted, however, that this was the first time he had come
across a drug-related murder.
VISIT TO THE SUPREME COURT OF JUSTICE
On Tuesday, October 10, at 8:30, the Commission met with members of the
Supreme Court of Justice of Nicaragua.
The President of the Court explained the functions of the Supreme Court
in particular, and the Judicial Power in general.
The members of the Special Commission stated that they had encountered
many problems related to the administration of justice and due process in
Nicaragua, especially in cases pertaining to police judges. They also raised
questions related to delays in setting up military tribunals, the lack of
procedural guarantees provided in these trials, and the slowness with which
these procedures are carried out.
A member of the court replied that military tribunals were just being
established, and that they are formed by high-ranking officers (generals and
colonels). Another magistrate, also belonging to the official Liberal Party,
pointed out that in Nicaragua there were many military men who were lawyers and
that the organization of the National Guard is not based on Latin but on Saxon
law; that it was, specifically, North American. He added that “military men
may judge civilians, this is nothing new, but very old; it is not done by
ignorant men, but by military men who have studied law; there are more than 25
military lawyers. Civilian lawyers are also called in for consultation”.
One member of the Court, belonging to the Conservative Party, stated that
he was not in agreement that military men should judge civilians and stated that
the military men themselves felt that they are not qualified to carry out this
role, and that therefore very often civilian judges were called in. He stated
further that “I am devoted to civil liberty, I do not believe in military
Finally, in reply to an observation to the effect that the Special
Commission, during visits to various cities, had noted the absence of police
forces, and that the National Guard, aside from being an army, carried out
police duties as well, the President of the Court stated that the National Guard
was divided into areas that included a police, as well as a judicial police
force. He added that although there was no civilian police force, all had
received military training—good training—and that there were also police
schools, both traffic and other kinds.
VISIT TO THE NATIONAL CONGRESS
The Commission arrived at the National Palace of Nicaragua shortly after
10:30 a.m., where they were received by the President and Vice President of the
National Congress, Dr. Francisco Urcuyo Maliaño and Ing. Luis H. Pallais
Debayle, respectively, as well as by other members of that body.
During the interview, the legislators expressed at length their
viewpoints regarding the events that had taken place in the country, the visit
of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Nicaragua, as well as
several other matters.
The members of the Commission explained to the congressmen the nature of
the mandate of the Commission, as well as its functions.
VISIT TO THE SUPREME ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL
At noon, the Special Commission visited the Supreme Electoral Tribunal,
which in Nicaragua represents the Fourth Power of the State, made up of three
magistrates belonging to the majority Liberal Party and two others appointed by
the minority Conservative Party. The Special Commission was received by its
President, Dr. Leonte Valle López, and three other magistrates.
During this interview the magistrates talked to the members of the
Commission about the electoral system prevailing in Nicaragua and the role
played by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.
One of the difficulties noted during the course of the interview was that
the great majority of the population does not possess identity cards, which, in
the opinion of the magistrates of the Conservative Party, had been the cause of
electoral fraud on several occasions in the past.
According to information provided to the Special Commission at that time,
only 70,891 identity cards had been approved up to June 30, 1978, 34,775 had
been issued, and 22,030 had actually been distributed; these figures represent a
minute percentage of the Nicaraguan population.
OTHER INTERVIEWS HELD BY THE SPECIAL COMMISSION
In the afternoon of Tuesday, October 10, the Commission heard testimony
of representatives of various institutions who had requested interviews. At
these meetings, the groups presented their viewpoints on the general situation
of human rights in Nicaragua, and in particular, focused on the observance of
the rights that directly affect them.
The institutions represented at these meetings were: representatives of
the political parties of the Frente Amplio Opositor (FAO); the Association of
Professors of the Recinto Universitario Rubén Darío, the Permanent Commission
of Human Rights in Nicaragua; the President, Vice President and Dean of the
School of Law of the Central American University of Nicaragua; and Drs. Gonzalo
Solórzano Bell and Francisco Barberene Bendaña, magistrates of the Supreme
Electoral Tribunal for the Conservative Party.
VISITS TO THE MINISTERS OF GOVERNMENT AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS
On Wednesday, October 11, at 8:30 a.m., the Special Commission met with
the Minister of Government (Gobernación), Ing. José
Antonio Mora Rostrán.
The Minister made some statements
regarding his work and various aspects of the general situation of the country.
During this interview, the matter of the administration of justice by
police judges was entered into specifically, as well as the fact that the
Special Commission had been able to verify that in many cases the prisoners had
served their full sentences before the political judges had decided the appeal.
He was also asked about martial law and the composition of the military courts.
The Minister explained that these courts were being organized, and that some
persons detained in Estelí would be judged by these courts, although their
arrests had been made before the enforcement of martial law, stating that
“they were the leaders of the movement.”
When he as advised of the cases of torture and mistreatment verified by
the Special Commission in the jails of the country, the Minister merely stated
that he was opposed to the practice of torture.
In view of the concern of the Commission for the fact that hundreds of
minors were being held alongside adults in the detention centers, Minister Mora
Rostrán shared the concern of the Commission and stated that the necessary
measures would be taken to avoid that this situation continue in the future.
At 10 a.m., the Special Commission interviewed the Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Dr. Julio César Quintana Villanueva.
Minister Quintana spoke of the interest of the Government of Nicaragua in
the visit of the Commission and stated that the government had been mindful of
the progress of the Commission's work in the country. He then presented
documentation for the consideration of the IACHR.
The Foreign Minister was advised of the situation of people claiming
political asylum in several of the Latin American embassies in Managua and he
replied that the order had already been given to prepare safe conducts for all
but two of these persons.
As to the possibility that the Government might take reprisals against
persons or institutions that had collaborated with the Commission, or which had
presented complaints to it, he emphatically said “there shall be no
reprisals” and added that it would be “dishonorable” for the Government
and that, therefore, nobody would be harmed.
Finally, Dr. Quintana informed the Commission that freedom of press and
radio would be re-established and that the state of siege would be lifted, but
that at this time “the possibility of keeping it in some places where there
are still certain pockets of opposition” was being considered.
VISITS TO JAILS
At the end of the interview with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the
Commission broke into two groups in order to inspect the jail of the Managua
Police Station (Central de Policía de Managua), known as the “Aviation
Jail”, and the Penal Center for Social Rehabilitation of Tipitapa, popularly
known as the Cárcel Modelo.
MANAGUA POLICE STATION
On arriving at that site, the Special Commission first met with the
Commander of the station, Col. Nicolás Valle Salinas. Col. Valle provided
certain explanations to the members about his functions, as well as information
on persons being held there.
The Special Commission then inspected the places of detention and
interviewed the prisoners. The Commission found a total of 190 prisoners both
men and women, approximately 94 of whom were imprisoned for political reasons.
After a thorough visit, where the Commission received extensive testimony and
verified the situation of the prisoners both in those cells known as “la
Chiquita” (the small one) and “la burguesa” (the bourgeois), as well as in
others, they again met with Commander Valle Salinas.
At that time, the Commission expressed some concern regarding the
situation of several minors who were there and gave him the names of two members
of the Guard who had been mentioned repeatedly to the Commission, by several
sources, as persons who treated the prisoners in a cruel and inhuman manner.
Commander Valle stated that he had already received complaints about one of them
and promised to take immediate disciplinary measures.
PENAL CENTER OF SOCIAL REHABILITATION OF TIPITAPA
At around noontime, members of the Special Commission and lawyers of the
Secretariat arrived at the Penal Center for Social Rehabilitation of Tipitapa,
known also as “Cárcel Modelo” (Model Jail) where they were received by its
Commander, Col. Ricardo Lau Castillo.
Col. Lau Castillo explained the general functions of the jail, pointing
out that political prisoners were held separately from common prisoners, and
that, of the 370 inmates at the present time, about 80 could be considered
political prisoners. He added that all the penal population had in fact been
The Special Commission then made a thorough inspection of the various
cell blocks, interviewing in private both common and political prisoners. The
main complaint, received from several of the former, was that, according to
them, they had already served the sentence imposed on them, but had not been set
As for the political prisoners, most of them had been recently sentenced
after the events of last September. Some of them were minors, 14 and 15 years
Among the political prisoners there were about ten belonging to the
Sandinista Front, who had already been imprisoned for several years, and who had
not been “liberated” after the raid last August of the National Palace. Most
of them complained that there was no adequate medical attention.
Finally, the members of the Special Commission again interviewed Col. Lau
Castillo and advised him of the principal complaints and concerns of the
prisoners, as well as their own impressions regarding conditions in the jail,
which, except for some aspects such as those relating to the short time that
prisoners were allowed to be out in the open air, were found satisfactory.
CONTINUATION OF THE INTERVIEWS
On the afternoon of Wednesday, October 11, as on the previous day, the
Special Commission received those persons and representatives of institutions
that had requested hearings, all of whom presented their respective viewpoints
regarding the status of human rights in Nicaragua. Those hear on this day
included: Newspapermen Union of Nicaragua; representatives of the Nicaraguan
Institute for Development (INDE); Capuchine Father of the Department of Zelaya;
directors of the La Prensa newspaper; and representatives of the
Nicaraguan Red Cross.
It should be noted at this point that the Special Commission, in spite of
the intensive schedule of activities in the short period of time available, did
not refuse to hear any person or institution which had so requested.
VISIT TO THE SECURITY OFFICE
On Thursday, October 12, the Special Commission visited the National
Security Office, located in Managua on the Loma de Tiscapa.
After several attempts to reach the Security Officer, the Commission was
received by the Officer of the day, Captain Moisés B. Sediles Méndez, of the
Signal Corps, in view of the fact that Col. Bayardo Girón, Chief of the Office,
was not present.
Captain Sediles informed the Commission about the authority of the
Security Office and conducted them on a tour of its facilities. The Commission
could verify that, on the western side of the building, there were three cells,
next to a high rocky retaining wall. These cells, approximately 4 meters square,
lacked any kind of ventilation, as there were no windows. When asked whether
there were any underground cells, Captain Sediles replied that he had heard that
they had existed, but that he believed that they had been destroyed during the
earthquake of 1973. He stated that it was possible that the prisoners in the
Security Office might think that they were in an underground cell, due to the
fact that they had been blindfolded when they were taken to the cell, and had to
go down a ramp, thereafter going through a very narrow passage, one of the sides
of which is the rocky wall.
On the other hand, he stated that the prisoners are not mistreated, but
admitted that they were made to do calisthenics so they would become tired and
As the Commission was getting ready to leave, Col. Girón arrived. He was
asked for additional information, as well as a list of the prisoners held since
September 1 of this year. He answered the questions and promised to send the
list to the office of the Commission. As of this date, it has not been received.
CONCLUSION ON THE ON-SITE OBSERVATION
With the visit to the Security Offices, the on-site observation that had
been undertaken by the Special Commission of the IACHR in Nicaragua came to an
At the conclusion of their activities, the Special Commission published a
press release in which, after reporting on the various activities undertaken, it
expressed its thanks to the Government of Nicaragua for the facilities it had
granted the Commission to fulfill its mission and expressed its gratitude to all
persons and institutions who had cooperated with the Commission so that it could
better understand the true situation of Nicaragua in the field of human rights.
It added that all those persons and institutions were protected by the repeated
assurances of the Government of Nicaragua that it would not take any reprisals
against them for having supplied information or testimony of any kind.
On that same day, Thursday, October 12, the last members of the Special
Commission remaining in Nicaragua returned to their homes, while the personnel
of the Secretariat remained in the country for six more days, in order to
fulfill several duties entrusted to them by the Commission, and in order to
continue receiving complaints of those persons wishing to present them.
Nature and Scope of the Present Report
This report presents a basic narration of the on-site observation
undertaken by the Commission. From the information thus obtained as well as that
gathered from other sources, the report comments briefly in the following
chapters on the legal emergency status that is now in force, and the status of
the observance in Nicaragua of the fundamental rights of life, liberty and
personal security; freedom of expression and thought; religious freedom and
worship; assembly and association; and finally, a list of pertinent conclusions.
The seriousness of the events witnessed by the Commission during its
visit to Nicaragua and the urgent need that these be brought to the attention of
the competent organs of the OAS, especially the XVII Meeting of Consultation of
Ministers of Foreign Affairs, has led the IACHR to adopt this kind of report and
to present it promptly to that body.
This serious situation, in the opinion of the Commission, should be
brought to the attention of all the American governments and to the general
public, as soon as possible.
The aforementioned reasons explain the nature of this report and its
remittance to the XVII Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs,
which has taken note among other considerations of “the human suffering in
Nicaragua”, and which, according to paragraph 6 of its Resolution dated
September 23, remains open “while the present situation exists.”
This report takes into consideration the pertinent observations and
comments made by the Government of Nicaragua in the note of November 15, 1978,
signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua, and its appendices.