Costa Rica has officially granted political asylum to the executive secretary of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH), Alvaro Leiva, months after he fled his country due to death threats.
Leiva sought the protection of Costa Rica, approaching the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto – Costa Rica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs – in the face of the social, political and economic crisis that Nicaragua faces, considering that he is at risk as a result of his work for the defense of human rights.
Leiva also stated that he is a victim of political persecution, which has materialized in threats against his life, liberty, security and personal integrity.
For these reasons, President Carlos Alvarado and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Epsy Campbell, welcomed the request for political asylum.
Leiva’s case marks the first time Costa Rica has granted such protections to a Nicaraguan citizen since the start of the political turmoil and civil unrest in April and that has forced thousands of Nicaraguans to flee to Costa Rican soil.
The institution of political asylum is enshrined in Article 31 of Costa Rica’s Constitution (Constitución Política de Costa Rica). The concession or denial is an act of government, based on the Executive Branch’s assessment of the facts and the reasons given by the applicant.
It should be noted that 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.
Refugee applications on the other hand are processed and resolved by the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGMIE) – Costa Rica’s immigration service, that receives the requests of people who have well-founded fears and can demonstrate with evidence that they are persecuted for reasons of race, gender, or belonging to a specific group.