Freedom of Expression

Press Release 112/04


Washington, DC, November 11, 2004. 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 assassination of the journalist María José Bravo, correspondent of the newspapers La Prensa and Hoy in Juigalpa, department of Chontales, Nicaragua.

According to the information received, the reporter was shot on November 9, 2004 while exiting the CountingCenter (“Centro de Cómputos”) of Juigalpa, where she was covering the recounting of the votes in the municipal elections held on November 7. In addition, the information received indicates that the police have detained suspects of the crime, which motivation remains unknown. .

The Office of the 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. The Office of the Special Rapporteur understands that in election periods, freedom of expression and the press becomes fundamental to keep society informed.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur views positively the fact that this act has been condemned from the highest governmental offices, which have urged the authorities to conduct a complete investigation and find the responsible for the crime. For these reasons, the Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the Nicaraguan state to continue the investigation until its ultimate resolution and that the competent authorities find means to prevent similar acts in the future.