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Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua

Jan-Michael Simon, chair (Germany)

photo: Jan-Michael Simon, chairJan-Michael Simon is a senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law, specializing in comparative criminal law, criminal policy, and international law. A lawyer by training, he began his international professional career in 1997 in the UN-sponsored Truth Commission, investigating human rights violations committed in the internal armed conflict in Guatemala. He has a long trajectory in combining research with practice on human rights, transitional justice, the rule of law, and anti-corruption, mainly in the Americas.

Mr. Simon has held senior international posts in missions against impunity sponsored by the UN (CICIG in Guatemala, as Senior Legal Officer) and the Organization of American States (MACCIH in Honduras, as Chief Adviser on Corruption and Impunity). Throughout the Americas, he has led technical cooperation projects, trained and provided technical assistance to prosecution offices, the judiciary, and governments, and provided legal expert opinions to international and national judicial bodies, including the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He regularly contributes to civil society initiatives on justice/human rights issues.

Ángela Maria Buitrago, member (Colombia)

photo: Ángela Maria Buitrago, memberÁngela María Buitrago is a Colombian litigator and former prosecutor. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses at the Universidad Externado de Colombia in criminal law, procedural law, human rights and legal sociology. She is also a guest lecturer at national and international universities and a trainer of prosecutors in countries in the region (including Honduras, Bolivia and Peru) on issues of criminal responsibility, international and chain of command.

Ms. Buitrago has extensive experience in criminal law and human rights at a professional level. In addition, she is well acquainted with international systems and the functioning of expert investigation groups, as she was part of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) in Mexico for the Ayotzinapa case. She has also served as an expert witness in cases before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which have included a gender perspective.

Ángela Buitrago holds a Master's degree in Criminal Law and a PhD in Law and Sociology from the Universidad Externado de Colombia. She is vice-president of the Colombian Institute of Procedural Law, member of the Ibero-American Institute of Procedural Law and member of the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Santa Fe de Bogotá and Cundinamarca.

Ariela Peralta Distefano, member (Uruguay)

Ariela Peralta Distefano

Ariela Peralta Distefano, of Uruguay, has more than three decades of experience in international humanitarian law and human rights law. She currently works on the European Commission program on support for human rights and democracy in Honduras, and recently served as a legal adviser to the President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

From 2020-2022, Peralta served as the Executive Secretary of the Institute for Public Policy on Human Rights of the Southern Common Market technical assistance agency. She was a member of the first Board of Directors of the National Human Rights Institution and Ombudsman of Uruguay from 2012-2017, serving as its president from 2016-2017.

Peralta has represented vulnerable groups such as persons deprived of liberty, former political prisoners and juvenile offenders. She has also represented victims of violence in times of peace and armed conflict from different countries, including women who have suffered forced sterilization, rape and other forms of sexual violence, kidnapped children and children born in captivity during regimes of oppression and civil wars, displaced populations and children arbitrarily detained.

Former Members

Alexandro Álvarez, member (Chile)

photo: Alexandro ALVAREZAlexandro Álvarez is a lawyer and law professor with diverse experience in legal, administrative, public policy, and legislative matters. His practice focuses primarily on international human rights law. Most recently, Mr. Álvarez acted as an international consultant to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on human rights, justice and the rule of law in Nicaragua (2021- 2022). He previously worked with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Special Follow-Up Mechanism for Nicaragua (2018- 2021), where he monitored the human rights situation in Nicaragua, coordinated the interdisciplinary team in the context of the current human rights crisis, and also worked on the ground as a human rights specialist.

Mr. Álvarez has held numerous legal and political advisory roles with the Chilean government, focusing on human rights and indigenous peoples. He served as the senior legislative aide for the Indigenous Representative of the National Congress; legal and political advisor to the Ministry of Interior and Public Security; legal aide to the Health Minister Cabinet; legislative aide to the Ministry Secretariat General of the Presidency; senior legal counsel to the National Corporation for Indigenous Development; and legal advisor to the Cabinet of the Undersecretary of the Planning Ministry.