The Costa Rican government reported Wednesday that it has granted political asylum to Nicaraguan human rights defender Álvaro Leiva, who fled the country after considering that his life was in danger as part of the violent socio-political crisis that began last April.
“The Government of the Republic of Costa Rica officially granted political asylum to the executive secretary of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH), Álvaro Leiva,” the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Leiva, one of the most prominent activists in the Nicaraguan crisis, fled to Costa Rica last August after the ANPDH denounced siege of groups for police and phone calls of threats to their offices.
In his asylum application, Leiva said she was the victim of a political persecution that has materialized in concrete acts against her life, liberty, security and personal integrity.
“For these reasons, the President of the Republic, Carlos Alvarado, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship, Epsy Campbell, welcomed the request for political asylum,” the official statement said.
This is the first political asylum that Costa Rica grants in the context of the crisis that Nicaragua is experiencing and that has forced thousands of Nicaraguans to flee to Costa Rican soil.
Political asylum is a special protection for people who belong to the diplomatic rank or have participated in political movements in their country of origin, “he added.
The Costa Rican government explained that the cases of political asylum are different from the refugee procedures that its immigration service is aware of.
More than 25,000 Nicaraguans have sought refuge in Costa Rica during 2018, most of them claiming they fear for their lives in the context of the violent crisis in Nicaragua.
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (Acnudh) has blamed the Government of Nicaragua for hundreds of deaths, as well as extrajudicial executions, torture, obstruction of medical care, arbitrary arrests, kidnappings, and sexual violence, among other human rights violations.
The government of Daniel Ortega has denied any responsibility.
While the government only recognizes 199 victims, on both sides of the socio-political crisis, mainly at the hands of “terrorists”, the term the government uses for protesters, humanitarian agencies estimate that the Nicaraguan crisis has left between 322 and 512 dead.