PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 43/001/2002
UA 110/02 Fear for safety/Death Threats 11 April 2002
NICARAGUAMaría Luisa Acosta (f)- lawyer
killed: Francisco José García Valle (m) aged 44
There are grave concerns for the safety of María Luisa Acosta, following the
murder of her husband Francisco José García Valle on 8 April. Prior to his
death, María Luisa Acosta had reportedly received death threats, which may
be connected to her work as a lawyer who defends indigenous communities in
the Autonomous South Atlantic Region of Nicaragua.
Francisco José García Valle, a university lecturer and President of the Chamber
of Commerce of Bluefields, was shot dead at his home. He was found by his wife,
when she returned home from work on the evening of 8 April. He was lying face
down among furniture with a gunshot to the chest. His hands had been tied behind
his back. Although there were valuables in the house nothing was taken,
indicating that theft was not the motive of the attack. It is feared that María
Luisa Acosta was the actual target of the attack.
Indigenous communities in Nicaragua have long faced land rights problems
involving both powerful private interests and state initiatives.
María Luisa Acosta coordinates the Centro de Asistencia Legal a los Pueblos
Indígenas (CALPI), Legal Aid Centre for Indigenous Peoples. She had recently
been defending the rights of indigenous groups against private interests. These
groups were also concerned about the lack of consultation regarding major state
initiatives, which would directly affect them. One such initiative, concerns
the construction of a dry canal joining the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean,
which would go through sacred indigenous land.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in
Spanish or your own language:
- expressing deep concern for the safety of María Luisa Acosta following the
murder of her husband;
- urging the authorities to take immediate measures to protect her and her
family from any further attacks;
- while acknowledging the steps already taken by the police, seek assurances
that a full, impartial and prompt investigation is carried out into the murder
of Francisco José García Valle, that the results are made public and that those
who planned, ordered and carried out this crime are brought to justice;
- reminding the government of its obligation to support human rights defenders
in their work for the protection and promotion of the respect for human rights,
as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility
of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally
Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, of 9 December 1998, and the
Resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the Organization of American
States in June 1999 in support of the work of human rights defenders.
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