RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The report, entitled “Freedom of expression and press under permanent attack”, was prepared by the Human Rights Collective Nicaragua Never Again, based on the main human rights violations against journalists and testimonies of those affected.
This organization, based in Costa Rica, concluded that practicing journalism in Nicaragua and even abroad, “considering the digital and physical attacks on relatives of journalists in exile, make this one of the most risky professions in the country.”
And it argued that the murder of journalist Ángel Gahona, on April 21st, 2018, when anti-government demonstrations over controversial social security reforms were beginning, “evidences the scope of such dangers and, three years later, the crime remains in impunity and the repression intensified.”
“Journalists are uncomfortable voices for the Nicaraguan regime because of their work to inform the population about serious human rights violations and their important contribution to the process of documenting these violations,” the human rights group observed.
“That is why the government actions implemented since 2018 aim to neutralize its capacity and consequently reduce its social impact,” it considered.
“SELF-CENSORSHIP, EXILE, JAIL OR DEATH”
According to that collective, journalists in Nicaragua have had four options: censorship and self-censorship, exile and forced displacement, jail and torture, and finally – as in the case of Ángel Gahona – death.
“In any of these options, the right to freedom of expression is violated, as well as the human rights of the men and women of the press,” it noted.
In the report, that body warned that “there is no mechanism in the country for the protection of journalists, nor instances that guarantee the investigation and punishment of those responsible for the serious violations denounced by the journalistic guild.”
Since April 2018, “impunity as a State policy has been accentuated in Nicaragua, which favors a climate of violence against journalists, encouraged by the highly stigmatizing speeches from the Executive,” he said.
In the group’s opinion, the State of Nicaragua is in total non-compliance with the precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which results in impunity due to the lack of investigation and punishment of the perpetrators of these attacks and, consequently, the State’s international responsibility for the life and personal integrity of the beneficiaries of these measures.
That body reiterated its commitment to accompany the victims in their legitimate demand for truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition.
On April 18th, 2018, a popular uprising broke out in Nicaragua over controversial social security reforms and later turned into a demand for the resignation of the country’s president, Daniel Ortega, due to the fact that he reacted with force.
The protests, described by the Executive as an “attempted coup d’état”, left at least 328 dead, according to the IACHR, although local organizations raise the figure to 684 and the Government acknowledges 200.