IACHR Orders Release of Nicaraguan Indigenous Leaders

By: Carlos Dominguez Scheid

Impunity Watch Staff Writer

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) mandated on February 1, 2024, that Nicaragua immediately release Brooklyn Rivera Bryan and Nancy Elizabeth Henríquez James, indigenous political figures and congresspersons from the Yapti Tasba Masraka Nanih Aslatakanka (YATAMA) party, who have been detained since late 2023.

Nancy Henríquez (left) and Brooklyn Rivera (right). | Photo courtesy of primeraorden.com.

The resolution comes amid serious concerns about Henríquez and Rivera’s detention conditions and the wider suppression of political opposition within the country. This decision came in response to a petition from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), advocating for the establishment of precautionary steps to safeguard Brooklyn Rivera and Henríquez, who both serve in the Nicaraguan National Assembly, affiliated with the YATAMA, an indigenous-focused political organization. They are both identified as facing a sharp and actualized threat of severe and lasting harm to their personal rights.

The Court’s decision underscores the urgent need to protect the rights and safety of Rivera and Henríquez, who have been targeted in what appears to be a sustained effort to quell dissent against Daniel Ortega’s regime. Despite their status as elected officials representing indigenous communities, their involvement in opposition activities has led to their arbitrary detention and the stripping of their parliamentary seats, a move that has drawn international condemnation. Rivera, a prominent Miskitu leader and key figure in YATAMA, vanished after a raid on his home in September 2023, with no legal warrants presented during his arrest. Similarly, Henríquez’s whereabouts became a mystery following her detention in October 2023, with reports suggesting she is being held in isolation under dire conditions. 

The Court’s resolution also extends protective measures to Rivera and Henríquez’s families, acknowledging the threats and reprisals they have faced, including those that have been forced into exile. The resolution aligns with the Court’s historical stance on safeguarding political freedoms and human rights, reflecting deep concerns over Nicaragua’s political climate, particularly the persecution of opposition parties and the erosion of democratic institutions since 2018. 

Nicaragua, having ignored the Court’s previous orders and not communicated since April 11, 2022, has been declared in permanent contempt. The Court’s latest resolution not only demands the immediate and unconditional release of the detained leaders but also insists on the restoration of their rights to participate in political activities as regional deputies, marking a critical stance against the suppression of political dissent in Nicaragua. 

This ruling highlights the ongoing crisis in Nicaragua, characterized by the government’s harsh response to protests and opposition, leading to widespread human rights abuses. The Court’s intervention underscores the international community’s commitment to upholding human rights and the rule of law, even as Nicaragua faces deepening isolation due to its actions against political opponents and indigenous leaders.

For further information, please see:

AGENCIA EFE – CorteIDH ordena liberar a dirigentes de Yatama – 15 Feb. 2024

CorteIDH ordena a Nicaragua liberar a dos líderes políticos indígenas opositores – 14 Feb. 2014


IACHR – IACHR Requests that IA Court Grant Provisional Measures in Favor of Indigenous YATAMA Representatives in Nicaragua – 19 Dec. 2023

Primerordencom – CorteIDH ordena a dictadura liberar de inmediato a Brooklyn Rivera y Nancy Henríquez – 15 Feb. 2024


Author: Sydney Krause