Freedom of Expression

Press Release R212/19

Nicaragua: Must stop reprisals against journalists, say human rights experts

August 26, 2019

Washington D.C., Ginebra – The Nicaraguan Government must stop reprisals against staff of the broadcaster Radio Dario and end repression of other media workers, say UN and Inter- American human rights experts* .

"There are indications of ongoing systematic repression of the media, with journalists being silenced, assaulted and threatened with death," the experts said.

Repression and violence against the media and human rights defenders have increased considerably since April 2018. The Experts are alarmed at the impact of this on freedom of expression and the closure of civic space at a critical time for Nicaraguan society.

Radio Dario workers in Leon have been the victims of harassment, threats, arbitrary detentions and acts of violence. Their facilities have been raided and attacked by pro-Government elements, causing serious damage and impeding their work. Some, in fear of their lives, have even left the country.

"Attacks on journalists violate the right of individuals and society at large to seek and receive information. In an unstable context, such as that of Nicaragua, the work of the media is of paramount importance in strengthening civic space," the experts said.

"We are also concerned about the campaigns of intimidation and de-legitimisation of the media in which media workers are accused of being enemies of the homeland. This is a clear attempt to dissuade members of the public from using their voice, and an effort to persuade society to lose confidence in the media."

The experts have expressed concern not only about the Radio Dario staff but also about the situation of journalists and human rights defenders elsewhere in the country.

"We fear that the situation of Radio Dario workers is just one of the many cases of repression in Nicaragua. We are concerned that other local media will not dare to denounce it for fear of reprisals," the experts concluded.

(*) The experts: Mr. Michel Forst (France), Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. David Kaye (USA), Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Clement Nyaletsossi Voule (Togo), Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association; Ms Agnes Callamard (France), Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Ms Leigh Toomey (Australia), Vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

The Special Rapporteurs and the Working Groups are part of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Mr. Edison Lanza is the IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the IACHR to encourage the defence of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.