Nicaragua: Vilma Núñez de Escorcia

Every time I set free political prisoners and they left the prison to be reunited with their families, it moved me deeply. Especially as I, myself, have also been a political prisoner.

— Vilma Núñez de Escorcia

It was the experience of seeing her father imprisoned during the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza that led Vilma Núñez de Escorcia to become a lawyer for oppositionist politicians, even though, this meant that, later on, she herself would be arrested. As people have looked down on her for being born outside wedlock, she defends everybody who suffers discrimination.

Vilma Núñez de Escorcia started as a lawyer defending political opponents of the Somoza dictatorship in 1965, and had the great satisfaction of liberating most of them, even though she was also imprisoned, as her father had been before. The nights she remembers from her childhood, when the National Guard would go round to the house looking for her father, finally taking him away; the injustices she perceived even when she was still too young to understand them–all led her to choose her career while she was still in her teens. “I did not want anybody else to have to go through what I had suffered. I put myself in the place of the people being pursued and discriminated against, and I opted to take on their defense.” She has been fighting for the cause of human rights, for more than 45 years. She has mediated political conflicts, freed hostages and popular freedom fighters, and she has also taken on the defense of those same people who had arrested and tortured her. Vilma Núñez de Escorcia is President of the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights, which she founded in 1990. She was also President of the Central American Commission for Human Rights, from 1990 to 1994; she integrated the Board of Directors of the Worldwide Organization against Torture, from 1992 to 2000; and has been Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights since then. She has gained innumerous national and international recognitions. She herself only captured one man, 41 years ago. “He is my husband, my admirer and my supporting strength.” She has a daughter, a son, four grandchildren, and one truth: “The tears of satisfaction that people shed, when we make an injustice right, are the energy that drives me.”

Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights International Federation for Human Rights Worldwide Organization against Torture