Freedom of Expression

Press Release 99/04


The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States, deplores the murder of Nicaraguan journalist Carlos José Guadamuz. The Office urges Nicaraguan authorities to take all the necessary measures to ensure that the perpetrators are punished and to reinforce to the maximum the mechanisms to grant effective protection to all journalists that receive threats for performing their valuable work of informing the public, which is essential for democracy and the rule of law.

According to the information received by the Rapporteurship, on Tuesday, February 10, Carlos José Guadamuz was shot five times when he was arriving at the headquarters of Canal de Noticias de Nicaragua (CDNN, Canal 23) where he conducted the program Dardos al Centro (“Darts to the target”). During his program he frequently made critical comments and denunciations on political matters. The journalist had already filed formal complaints of threats against him.

Although there is still no official theory regarding the motives for this act, the Office was informed that the Attorney General´s  Office has already begun an investigation of the incident and has carried out the preliminary procedural steps, including the detention, at scene of the crime, of the suspected actual perpetrator, who was identified as Augusto Hurtado García.  

The Office of the Special Rapporteur recalls that the murder of journalists is the most brutal means of restricting freedom of expression. As stated in Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR, “The murder… of and/or threats to social communicators violate the fundamental rights of individuals.” The American Convention on Human Rights, to which Nicaragua is a party, establishes that states have the duty to prevent, investigate, and sanction any violation of the human rights recognized in the Convention.

For these reasons, the Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the Nicaraguan state to continue the investigation until its ultimate resolution. The Office also recalls the commitment made by the Heads of State and Government at the Third Summit of the Americas, whereby the governments ensured “that journalists and opinion leaders shall be free to investigate and publish without fear of reprisals . . . .”  

Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression

Washington, D.C., February 13, 2004.