Zoilamérica Narváez Murillo v. Nicaragua

Ms. Zoilamérica Narváez Murillo suffered physical (sexual abuse, rape, and sexual harassment) and psychological violence by her adoptive father, Mr. Daniel Ortega Saavedra. Mr. Ortega was a deputy in Nicaragua’s National Assembly and protected by congressional immunity from charges against him. Ms. Murillo argued to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that the Nicaraguan state denied her from enjoying access to justice for the restitution of her violated rights. The IACHR decided on whether Ms. Murillo adequately exhausted domestic remedies, which would then allow the IACHR to competently review her petition. Ms. Murillo claimed to have exhausted domestic remedies by filing suit against Mr. Daniel Ortega with the First District Criminal Court in Managua while at the same time requesting the National Assembly to suspend Mr. Ortega’s congressional immunity. The Nicaraguan State argued that Ms. Murillo did not fully exhaust domestic remedies because the National Assembly created a Special Commission to determine Mr. Ortega’s immunity and because Ms. Murillo did not file for amparo relief against the National Assembly Steering Committee’s resolutions. The IACHR held that waiting over three years for the National Assembly to reply to Ms. Murillo’s request for suspension of Mr. Ortega’s immunity was not an appropriate judicial remedy. Although all domestic remedies were not exhausted, Ms. Murillo did adequately seek available domestic judicial redress; therefore, full exhaustion of domestic remedies was not needed to determine the competency of the IACHR. Further, the IACHR held that Ms. Murillo’s petition met the admissibility requirements and that the IACHR was competent to review this case.

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