The Commission has continued to observe with special attention developments in the human rights situation in Nicaragua during the period of this report. The following presentation covers the most important aspects of this review and updates the section that was included on this country in the annual report for the preceding period. Thus the Commission is continuing the review it began in 1981 with the publication of its report on the status of human rights in Nicaragua, which was prepared after an on site visit to the country at the invitation of the Nicaraguan Government, with its 1984 report on the results of the friendly solution procedure in the case of the Miskito Indians, and with the sections on Nicaragua in the annual reports from 1982 to date.


          Before getting into the developments in the human rights situation, during the period of this report, the Commission must report that on September 3, 1987, the Nicaraguan Government extended an invitation for a Commission delegation to visit that country to review the status of several individual cases being processed. The Commission wishes to express its appreciation to the Nicaraguan Government for that invitation, which it considers to be of great importance.


          a.          The New Political Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua


          On January 9, 1987, the Official Gazette of Nicaragua published the new Political Constitution. This is an event of particular importance, so the Commission will deal with it first. The importance of the Constitution is that it institutionalizes the exercise of power in Nicaragua after the replacement of the previous system. It also defines human rights and the guarantees established to ensure their exercise and sets the limits on their exercise when a state of emergency is decreed. It also includes some important issues on which the Commission reported in the past, such as the situation in the Atlantic Coast Communities.


          The Political Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua, which replaces the Statute of the Rights and Guarantees of Nicaraguans of August 21, 1979, consists of 195 permanent articles and 7 final and transitional provisions. It contains a preamble and eleven titles, which cover the basic principles governing the Nicaraguan political and legal systems; the structure of the State; the nationality of Nicaraguans; the rights, duties and guarantees of the Nicaraguan people, a title that is divided into chapters covering individual rights, political rights, social rights, the rights of the family, labor rights, and the rights of the Atlantic Coast Communities; national defense; the national economy; agrarian reform and public finances; education and culture; the organization of the State, which includes consideration of the general principles, the legislative branch, the executive branch, the judicial branch, and the electoral branch; the administrative division of the country, the supremacy of the constitution; its amendment and the constitutional laws, which are the Electoral Law, the Emergency Law, and the Law of amparo. At the end of the Constitution are the transitional and final provisions.


          Regarding the basic principles, set forth in Title I of the Constitution, is noteworthy; “the State guarantees the existence of political pluralism, a mixed economy and non-alignment.” On the area of interest to the Commission, Article 5 continues:


         Political pluralism ensures the existence and participation of all political organizations in the economic, political and social affairs of the country, without ideological restrictions, except for those who seek a return to the past or advocate the establishment of a similar political system.


         The mixed economy ensures the existence of different forms of property: public, private, associative, cooperative and communal; all of these forms of priority must serve the best interests of the national and contribute to the creation of wealth to meet the needs of the country and its inhabitants.


          Title III of the Constitution deals with the right to a nationality, and it is important to note that Nicaraguan nationality can be lost, only through the voluntary adoption of another nationality, provided the adoption of dual nationality is not possible. The Constitution grants all persons originally from Central America, the right to chose Nicaraguan nationality, without having to renounce their previous nationality. Nationality cannot be taken away as a punishment.


          Rights are defined in detail in Articles 23 to 91 inclusive. It should be noted that, following modern trends in this field, the Nicaraguan Constitution covers civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights, and also includes a special chapter on the rights of the Atlantic coast communities.


          The right to life is defined in Article 23, and it is particularly appropriate to note that the Constitution maintains the abolition of the death penalty. Personal freedom, personal security and individual access to legal redress are rights recognized in Article 25, while Article 26 covers the right to private property—personal and family—the inviolability of the home and of correspondence and respect for the honor and reputation of persons.


          Article 27 sets forth the principle of equality before the law, while Article 29 recognizes the right of freedom of conscience and of religion. Article 30 deals with the right of freedom of expression, and Article 31 with the right of residence and movement, with Article 32 recognizing the principle that no one is obligated to do what is not mandated by or barred from doing what is not prohibited by law. The right to personal freedom is recognized in Article 33, which also defines the rights of imprisoned persons and the conditions under which they are to be detained.


          The right to due process is defined and regulated by part of Article 34, which consists of ten subparagraphs. Article 36 recognizes the right to physical, psychological and moral integrity, and Article 37 sets forth the principle that the penalty shall not extend beyond the person accused. Article 38 refers to the nonretroactivity of criminal law, except when it favors the accused, and Article 39 establishes the principles on which the penitentiary system is based. The prohibition of slavery, involuntary servitude, and debtors’ prisons is covered in Articles 40 and 41, while Article 42 deals with asylum and the limits within which that institution of international law is recognized. Article 43 refers to extradition. Article 44 recognizes the right to property.


          Political rights are defined and regulated in Articles 47 to 55. A citizen becomes eligible to vote at 16 years of age (Article 47), and the right of citizens to elect and be elected in periodic elections is recognized in Article 51. Articles 132 and 146 refer to the universal, equal, direct, free and secret vote by which representatives to the National Assembly and the President and Vice President of the Republic are elected.


          The right to organize, in both social associations and political parties, is also recognized in the chapter on political rights (Articles 49 and 55, respectively). Also included are the right to petition (Article 52), the right to peaceful gathering (Article 53), and the right to assemble, demonstrate and mobilize publicly (Article 54).


          It should be understood that the exercise of the political rights in this brief listing are limited by the above transcribed Article 5, according to which the principle of political pluralism does not apply to ideological movements “that seek to return to the past or advocate the establishment of a similar political system.” The Commission has repeatedly pointed out that the Declaration of Santiago, Chile of 1959 is in force, which states that “the systematic use of political banishment is contrary to the American democratic system.”


          Articles 56 to 69 define what the Nicaraguan Constitution calls social rights, which includes the right to work, education, culture, health care, a healthy environment, social security, adequate nutrition, housing, sports, physical education, recreation and diversion. The chapter on social rights also includes some operational aspects such as the State’s obligation to grant special care to those affected in fighting for the nation, the adoption of health measures, with respect to the right to health care, and the establishment of special programs for the rehabilitation, inclusion in society and job placement of the handicapped.


          Article 66 refers to the right “of truthful information,” and Article 67 specifies that the right to inform “is a social responsibility,” which “cannot be subject to censorship, but may be subject to post facto liabilities established by law.” Article 68 is connected with the articles mentioned, and indicates that “the means of mass communication are at the service of national interests,” without specifying who defines those interests and to what extent the use of the mass media may conflict with those who define the “national interests.”


          Article 69 recognizes the right to express religious beliefs in public or in private through “worship, practices and teaching.” That article provides that religious beliefs may not be invoked to evade obedience to the law.


          Articles 70 to 79 deal with the rights of the family, and include various aspects relating to the family, which is recognized as the “fundamental nucleus of society.” These articles include consideration of aspects such as family relations and the establishment of welfare facilities to care for minors and the elderly and to provide maternity care.


          Labor rights are dealt with in Articles 80 to 88. These articles reiterate the right to work as a basic principle, and provide that the State shall strive for full employment (Article 80) and sets forth the right of workers to participate in management of their enterprises (Article 81). The Nicaraguan Constitution also covers working conditions, devoting seven subparagraphs of Article 82 to that subject. It also recognizes the right to strike (Article 83).


          Article 84 prohibits child labor, while Article 85 recognizes the right of workers to cultural, scientific and technical development, as well as the right to select their occupation and work place (Article 86). Article 87 establishes that “Full labor union freedom exists in Nicaragua,” and recognizes union autonomy and respect for the legal rights or organized labor. It also recognizes the rights of workers to enter into individual contracts and collective bargaining agreements with their employers.


          The title on Nicaraguan rights concludes with a chapter defining the rights of the Atlantic Coast Communities. After indicating that these communities “are an indivisible,” in Articles 89 and 90, “parts of the Nicaraguan people,” these articles provide that they “have the right to preserve and develop their cultural identities within the framework of national unity, to be granted their own forms of social organization and to administer their local affairs according to their traditions.”


          The Constitution also includes recognition by the State of “communal forms of ownership land of the Communities…” and “the enjoyment, use and benefit of waters and forests of their communal lands.” The Constitution also recognizes the right of communities “to the free expression and preservation of their languages, art and culture,” with respect to which it is interesting to point out that Article 121, dealing with education, provides that these communities “have access in their region to education in their native language…”


          It should be noted that the Constitution deals in Title VII with the topic of education and culture, which is regarded as one of the economic, social and cultural rights. The topic of education and culture is also related to the transmission of values, and through that means, to the development and promotion of human rights, among the population, and with the topic of teaching by private persons or groups.


          The various aspects of education and culture are dealt with by the Constitution in Articles 116 to 127. The right to access to education is established in Article 121, while the values that guide the educational process are set forth in Article 117, which states that “it is based on our national values, on knowledge of our history, of reality, of the national and universal culture, and on the continual development of science and technology; it cultivates the values of the new Nicaraguan, in accord with the principles established in this Constitution.”


          Private education is recognized in Article 123, and is subject to the provisions of the Constitution. Religious education is recognized in Article 124, which also establishes the principle of secular instruction. It is also important to note that Article 127 establishes the principle that “Artistic and cultural creation is completely unrestricted.”


          Title VIII of the Constitution covers the organization of the State. It is composed of the legislative, executive, judicial and electoral branches, which are dependent of one another (Article 129). The Nicaraguan Constitution adopts a unicameral system for the legislative branch, and establishes a National Assembly with 90 representatives elected by “universal, equal, direct, free and secret vote,” as has already been pointed out. It is important to note that a representative to the National Assembly need be only 21 years of age. Representatives serve a six years term.


          The significant functions of the National Assembly (Article 138) in the Commission’s view include: decree amnesty and pardons, as well as commutate or reduce sentences (subparagraph 3); grant and cancel legal status to civil or religious entities (subparagraph 5); elect Supreme Court justices and regular and alternate judges of the Supreme Electoral Council, from slates of candidates proposed by the President (subparagraph 7); elect the Controller General of the Republic, also from a slate of candidates proposed by the President (subparagraph 8) and consider and acknowledge resignations or dismissals of Supreme Court justices, judges of the Supreme Electoral Council, or the Controller General of the Republic (subparagraph 10). Note also that the National Assembly has the power, under Article 150, subparagraph 9, to ratify the decree by which the President imposes a state of emergency.


          The makeup and duties of the executive branch are covered by the Nicaraguan Constitution in Chapter III of Title VIII (Articles 144 to 153). Executive power is exercised by the President of the Republic, who is the chief of state, head of government and commander in chief of the defense and security forces of the nation. The Executive branch also includes a vice president, who performs the duties delegated by the president, whom he replaces in case of the president’s temporary or permanent absence (Article 145).


          As was pointed out, the president and the vice president are elected by “universal, equal, direct, free and secret vote for a six years term” (article 146), and must be 25 years of age. The Constitution does not mention re-election of the president.


          The functions of the executive branch are mainly set forth in Article 150. The most important include the power to decree a state of emergency, with ratification by the National Assembly (subparagraph 9); and to propose slates of candidates to the National Assembly for the election of justices of the Supreme Court, judges of the Supreme Electoral Council and the Controller General of the Republic.


          The judicial branch is regulated by Chapter V of Title VIII of the Constitution (Articles 158 to 167), and is composed of the Courts of Justice, whose highest body is the Supreme Court. Military jurisdiction is recognized, and its exercise is regulated by law (Article 159). Under the Constitution, the administration of justice “guarantees the principle of legality; protects and guards human rights through enforcement of the law…”


          Article 162 provides that judges shall serve six-year terms, which appears to indicate that judges are not permanent. If that is the case, the Commission finds it highly undesirable to have a judiciary that must render justice while taking into consideration that doing so may lead to their not being re-elected. As was pointed out, Supreme Court justices are elected by the National Assembly from slates of candidates submitted by the President, who in turn selects the Chief of Justice of the Supreme Court (Article 163). As can be seen, this is a particularly weak and vulnerable system owing to its extreme dependence on the executive branch.


          It should be noted also that Article 199 (transitional) stipulates that special courts shall continue to function “until such time as they come under the jurisdiction of the judicial branch,” so that appointment of their members and their procedures shall be determined by the laws that established them. The Commission must reiterate the grave criticism that these special courts have received owing to the lack of guarantees of the right to a fair trial and due process, which their structure and functions represent.


          Title VIII concludes with Chapter VI on the electoral branch, which is regulated by Articles 168 to 174, and is responsible for the “organization, management and oversight of elections, plebiscites and referendums” (Article 168). The electoral branch is composed of the Supreme Electoral Council and other subordinate electoral bodies. This Council is composed of five officials selected by the National Assembly from a slate of candidates submitted by the President. The National Assembly designates the President of the Supreme Electoral Council.


          One feature of particular importance is covered by the Nicaraguan Constitution in Title X, Chapter I, in which Articles 185 and 186 regulate the decreeing and imposition of a state of emergency. The first of these articles deals with the procedures stipulated by the Constitution to decree a state of emergency; the second lists the constitutionally recognized rights that may not be suspended.


          Under Article 185, the President of the Republic may suspend rights and guarantees throughout the country or in certain regions of it “in case of war, or when demanded by the security of the nation, economic conditions, or a national disaster.” This article also stipulates that a state of emergency shall be in force for a specific time, which can be extended, and leaves it up to the regular Emergency Law to stipulate the various forms of the state of emergency. As was pointed out, Article 150, subparagraph 9, gives the National Assembly the power to ratify an emergency decree “within 45 days.”


          Article 186 lists the rights that may not be suspended under a state of emergency. This list coincides with the one set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights in Article 27.2, except for an important feature, which has been repeatedly pointed out by the Commission: suspension of the remedy of amparo or habeas corpus.


          In fact, Article 45, which institutes the remedy of exhibición personal (order to bring the accused before the court) or of amparo (enforcement of constitutional rights), is not included in the list of Article 186, and the Commission considers that this is an unfortunate omission because the Commission has repeatedly called the Government’s attention to the need for maintaining these remedies in force, even when states of emergency are imposed, because these remedies are designed to safeguard the right to humane treatment, which cannot be suspended in any way.


          Taking into consideration the serious situation that occur during the states of emergency, with the suspension of the remedy of amparo or habeas corpus, the Commission submitted to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights an advisory opinion on this subject. On January 30, 1987, the Court pointed out, in an advisory opinion of particular importance, that:


         From what has been said before, it follows that writs of habeas corpus and of amparo are among those judicial remedies that are essential for the protection of various rights whose derogation is prohibited by Article 27.2, and they serve, moreover, to preserve legality in a democratic society.


         The Court must also observe that the Constitutions and legal systems of the States Parties that authorize expressly or by implication, the suspension of the legal remedies of habeas corpus or of “amparo” in emergency situations cannot be deemed to be compatible with the international obligations imposed on these States by the Convention.


          The Commission considers it necessary to point out that the Nicaraguan Constitution in Article 46 recognizes the full observance of the rights set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights, of which it is a State party, a situation that gives rise to a serious contradiction. It should be realized, in reviewing this delicate matter, that the new Constitution provides for the drafting of a constitutional law on amparo, designed to regulate the exercise of this important remedy. The Commission feels that discussion of this law, which is a constitutional law that will regulate the state of emergency, will provide an appropriate occasion to eliminate the brave contradiction between the Nicaraguan Constitution and the system of the American Convention, of suspending the remedy of amparo or habeas corpus during a state of emergency.


          b.          The State of Emergency


          During the period of this report, the state of emergency remained in effect. It was lifted briefly when the new Constitution came into force on January 9, 1987, under which the President, in the exercise of his authority, renewed it by Decree 245, of that date. When the President’s decree was sent to the National Assembly for ratification, it was amended to bring it in line with the system provided for in the new Constitution. The National Assembly Decree is number 250, and is dated February 23, 1987.


          Pursuant to the procedure stipulated by the American Convention on Human Rights, the Foreign Minister, Víctor Hugo Tinoco, informed the Secretary General of the Organization of American States that the state of emergency would be renewed for one year starting February 28, 1987, because of “the persistent threats to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nicaragua…(as) a consequence of a war of aggression… being waged for the purpose of overthrowing the legitimately constituted government of Nicaragua.”


          In view of these circumstances, the Nicaraguan Government reports that it has suspended the exercise of the right to the inviolability of the home, correspondence and communications (Article 11, paragraph 2), while paragraph 1 on respect for honor and recognition of dignity and paragraph 3 on protection against attacks, to honor and dignity remain. Also suspended is exercise of the right to freedom of expression set for in subparagraphs 1 and 2 of Article 13, which defines that right and prohibits censorship; subparagraphs 3 to 5 of that article remain. Also suspended is freedom of movement and residence set forth in Article 22, subparagraphs 1 and 2 referring to the right to move about in the country and the right to leave it; the right not to be expelled from the national territory nor to be deprived of the right to enter it (subparagraph 5) remain.


          Likewise suspended is the right to personal liberty set forth in Article 7 of the Convention, while the provisions on promptly notifying detained persons of the reasons for their detention and the charges against them (subparagraph 4) and the prohibition of imprisonment for debt remain. Subparagraph 6 of Article 7 serves to maintain the exercise of the right of amparo, and the Nicaraguan Government’s communication states that this remedy is suspended “only in relation to the rights and guarantees established in the provisions that have been suspended by this present state of emergency.”


          Finally, the communication reports on the suspension of the exercise of the right to judicial protection (Article 25 of the Convention), which serves as a basis for the remedies of amparo or habeas corpus, and points out that this suspension refers “only to those acts that threaten the security of the nation and public order.” What was stated in the section reviewing the new Nicaraguan Constitution, regarding the possibility of suspending the exercise of the remedies of amparo or habeas corpus is sufficiently clear and explicit that no additional consideration of this point is required. It is enough to point out that such suspension is in conflict with the provisions of Article 27.2 of the American Convention, of which Nicaragua is a State party, and therefore that the suspension should be lifted.


          The Commission dealt extensively in its last annual report with the topic of the state of emergency in Nicaragua. It is enough to point out now that the possibility of taking this type of special measure is covered in Article 27.1 of the American Convention on Human Rights, which states that it may be taken “in time of war, public danger or other emergency that threatens the independence or security of a State Party.” Subparagraph 1 of this article also provides that such measures may be taken “to the extent and for the period of time strictly required by the exigencies of the situation.”


          Facts that are a matter of public knowledge show, in the Commission’s view, that the Nicaraguan Government is facing a threat to State security and that such a threat now exists. The list of rights whose exercise is suspended, according to the communication transcribed above, is in keeping with the provisions of Article 27.2, except with regard to the suspension of the remedy of amparo or habeas corpus. In this connection, it should be pointed out that the Commission has noted in its previous annual report the statements of high officials of the Nicaraguan Government that they want to lift the state of emergency once the causes that gave rise to it have been eliminated. These causes, in the Nicaraguan Government’s view, primarily originated in external support to irregular armed groups fighting to overthrow the government. The Commission must place on record that these statements have been repeated during the period of this report, and to them have been added the commitment assumed in the Esquipulas II Presidential Agreement, signed in Guatemala City on August 7, 1987.


          Specifically, that article states that 90 days after signature of the document, the measures that the presidents have decided to adopt will enter into effect simultaneously: dialogue with the unarmed opposition, amnesty for armed opposition forces, cease fire, discontinuance of external aid to armed groups, lifting of the state of emergency, and consequently, restoration of civil and political liberties, as well as nonuse of the territory of the country to attack other States.


          As can be seen, many aspects are connected directly with the exercise of human rights, so the IACHR will continue to observe carefully the status of these rights in Nicaragua in light of these new commitments. In this connection, the Commission must point out that the National Commission for Reconciliation has already been installed, which is presided over by Cardinal Obando y Bravo, with the Vice President of Nicaragua, Sergio Ramírez Mercado serving as Vice President of the Commission. In a measure connected with the new situation, according to Government spokesmen, the Nicaraguan Government lifted the ban on re-entry into the country of Monsignor Juan Pablo Vega, Bishop of Juigalpa, and Monsignor Bismark Carballo, spokesman of the Archiepiscopal Curia of Managua.


          The Commission hopes that fulfillment of the agreement will lead to a substantial improvement in the human rights situation in Nicaragua, because during the period of this report, the Commission has continued to receive reports that during the state of emergency, and sometimes exceeding its provisions, the Government of Nicaragua has proceeded in violation of the American Convention on Human Rights, of which it is a State party. The following summarizes the reports received by the IACHR.


          Right to life


          During the period of this report, the Commission has received reports of summary executions attributed to members of the Sandinista Popular Army. The events reported have occurred in the battle areas and have involved persons connected with armed groups fighting against the Nicaraguan Government. These reports are being processed in accordance with the Commission’s regulations, and it will in due course take the decisions it regards as appropriate.


          Personal liberty and due process


          One topic that has caused deep concern to the IACHR is personal liberty, which is also connected with the rights to due process, humane treatment, and the situation in the jails. The Commission has extensively covered the suspension of the remedy of amparo or habeas corpus during the state of emergency. It is enough to repeat here that the absence of this remedy causes a number of severe problems regarding the rights to liberty and personal security.


          Specifically, the Commission has received repeated reports that persons suspected of ties with armed groups fighting the Nicaraguan Government have been arrested without the authorities’ abiding by the requirements of the law on detentions. In numerous cases, family members are not informed of the detention or of the place where their relatives are confined, which causes them great anguish. Moreover, this non recognition of the arrest, in addition creates conditions in which law enforcement authorities are accused of committing acts of torture during the detention. The validity of such presumptions is increased by the fact that these persons may be kept for very long periods during which no independent organization that can determine the status of the prisoners has access to the prisons. This picture is completed with the lack of the remedy of habeas corpus, which makes it impossible for the judicial system itself to monitor the freedom and security of prisoners. The Commission regards this situation to be of extreme concern and hopes that steps being taken under the peace agreement will help to restore fully the exercise of these rights.


          Another topic connected with the right of personal liberty is the situation in the jails. During the period of this report, a number of figures have been provided on the jail population in Nicaragua and the origin of the prisoners’ deprivation of liberty. According to the Government National Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, there are 9,500 prisoners in Nicaragua, of whom 2,300 are former members of the National Guard, 1,500 are in prison for actions against State security, and the rest are common criminals.


          The Nicaraguan Permanent Commission on Human Rights, an independent agency, considers that there are now “no less than 7,000 political prisoners,” of whom 2,500 are serving sentences for violation of the State Security Law, 2,300 have been tried and sentenced by the Popular Anti-Somocista Courts and 2,200 are awaiting trial by those courts. The Permanent Commission estimates that there are also “from 2,300 to 2,500 former National Guardsmen,” serving sentences imposed by the Special Courts of Justice.


          Also during the period of this report and in connection with the right to personal freedom and the situation in the jails, the Commission has been receiving reports on a number of serious situations in the Tipitapa Prison, affecting a group of prisoners, including Elías Margarito Alemán Mejía, Adán Rugama Suazo, Jorge Ramírez Zelaya and Wilfredo Gutiérrez Guido. The Commission is processing the last of these reports on acts of violence against nine prisoners, including those named above, several of whom suffered injuries and wounds, in some cases severe.


          The situation described as regards personal liberty is even more complicated because of the deterioration in the exercise of the right to a fair trial and to due process. In fact, the existence of special courts, the Popular Anti-Somocista Courts, has been a cause of continuous concern for the IACHR, which has repeatedly pointed out the serious objections to them. Organizations defending human rights have estimated that persons arrested for reasons of State security and brought before these courts are detained an average of eight months for trial. These agencies also state that during that extensive period the prisoners have no access to counsel, and family visits are restricted. These deficiencies, together with those involving these courts’ structure, makeup and dependence on the Executive Branch, cause the Commission to deplore the fact that such courts are retained under Article 199 of the new Constitution.


          The various problems resulting from the situation in the area of personal liberty, due process and the situation in the jails led, during the period of this report, to the creation of the January 22 Committee of Mothers of Political Prisoners. Several leaders of this organization have reported various kinds of pressure placed on them by the Government.


          Right to freedom of expression


          During the period of this report, severe restrictions on freedom of expression resulting from the state of emergency have continued. This has led to continued suspension of the La Prensa newspaper and of the Church Weekly (Seminario Iglesia) of the Archiepiscopal Curia of Managua. The Commission also hopes that compliance with the Esquipulas II Presidential Agreement will make it possible to lift the state of emergency, and accordingly authorize broadcasts by Radio Católica.


          Right of assembly


          During the period of this report, the state of emergency has resulted in limitations on the exercise of this right. Despite that, the Commission must mention that on November 16-23, 1986, the Eucharistic Congress was held in Nicaragua, which was attended by a personal delegate of Pope John Paul II and bishops from various places in Latin America and the United States. Also attending were religious figures such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who received authorization to set up a convent of her religious order. The meetings of the Eucharistic Congress took place without difficulties.


          It should also be noted that one week after signature of the Peace Plan, on August 15, 1987, the Democratic Coordinator held a ceremony to inaugurate its new facilities in Managua. According to information received by the Commission, the ceremony was attended by a number of prominent persons, including Lino Hernández Triguero, Executive Secretary of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights, and Alberto Saborío Morales, President of the Bar Association of Managua and Secretary of the Conservative Party. According to the information received, those attending attempted after the inaugural ceremony to initiate a march, which was prohibited by the police because the required authorization had not been obtained.


          The refusal of the police and the insistence of those in attendance to hold a demonstration reportedly led to incidents in which Fernández Trigueros and Alberto Saborío were arrested. Both were sentenced to 30 days in jail by a police examining magistrate under existing police regulations, with the amendments introduced in 1964 by Decree 1030.


          The Commission wishes to stress again the urgent need for all Nicaraguans to help to create favorable conditions to achieve, in the shortest possible time, re-establishment of the rights and guarantees of the democratic system of government, including the right of assembly and public demonstrations.


          Freedom of residence and movement


          During the period of this report, people continued to be relocated from the areas of armed conflict. Thus, in March and April of this year, 400 families from the Nueva Guinea region were relocated. The Government has maintained that these are preventive measures to protect the civilian population from the fighting. Other observers point out that people are relocated to deprive irregular groups from their social support base.


          The repatriation of Miskito Indians who are in Honduras continued during this period, and according to information received by the Commission, persons who had gone to Costa Rica were also returning. The repatriation of Miskito Indians has coincided with the discussion of the New Law of Autonomy to resolve the problems that emerged in the years 1981-1984. This law comes within the framework of the general provisions of the Constitution, which were described above.


          Political rights


          During the period of this report, a proposal was made on February 5, 1987 by seven opposition parties: the Independent Liberal Party, the Christian Social Popular Party, the Nicaraguan Christian Social Party, the Conservative Party of Nicaragua, the Constitutionalist Liberal Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the Communist Party of Nicaragua. The proposal was addressed to President Daniel Ortega and dealt with the need to set up a National Peace Commission to achieve a cease fire, amnesty for political crimes and common crimes in connection with them, establishment of an ongoing dialogue to achieve a consensus among Nicaraguans, among other points.


          The Commission notes that there are many points of contact between that proposal and the elements of the Peace Plan that was described at the beginning of this chapter. Hence, the IACHR hopes that the measures taken in the immediate future under this Peace Plan may lead to prompt re-establishment of political and civil rights connected with the exercise of representative democracy, which the Commission and the legal instruments of the Americas have regarded as the system that is the best guarantee for the observance of human rights.

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