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Nicaragua: Attacks on defenders and journalists increase

    Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - 13:31

    Miguel Mora via Twitter

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 160/18 HERE

    Nicaraguan authorities continue to target journalists, human rights defenders and organizations. Recent attacks against freedom of expression and association indicate ongoing strategy to supress dissenting voices.

    Staff members of the independent news outlet and television channel 100% Noticias have faced threats, harassment, and persecution online and offline. They include director Miguel Mora. The threats come from both Nicaraguan authorities and government supporters. On at least six occasions in recent months, police officers stopped 100% Noticias staff at checkpoints in and around Managua (capital city). On 30 November, National Police agents told Miguel Mora to “stop screwing or we’ll go against you and your family…If you continue to report the news on your channel, you know what you’ve got coming” at a checkpoint. Following these threats, on 3 December, pro-government media published an article accusing Miguel Mora of “inciting violence” on his news channel. Miguel Mora has not received any notification from the Public Prosecutor against him. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights condemned these attacks, calling them acts of intimidation and harassment against Miguel Mora, his family, protesters and media workers in general.

    The same day, staff members of the independent radio station Radio Darío were intimidated. The director Aníbal Toruño told Amnesty International that members of the National Police forcibly entered the radio station without a warrant in the city of León (northwest of Managua). They ordered the staff to turn off all the radio equipment, handcuffed them and took their mobile phones. Four staff members were placed in police cars and threatened to be taken to a detention centre in Managua. They were never taken anywhere, they were released almost four hours later and got their mobile phones back. During this time the radio station was forced to be off air.

    Amnesty International also received information that, on 28 November, the Nicaraguan National Assembly approved a decree (not yet published online) to cancel the legal representation of the human rights organization Health Information Centre and Advice Services (Centro de Información y Servicios de Asesoría en Salud), led by human rights defender Ana Quirós. On 18 April, she was attacked by pro-government armed groups while taking part in a demonstration. On 26 November, Amnesty International reported that she was arbitrarily detained and expelled from Nicaragua. These recent attacks against freedom of expression and association are examples of the continued strategy of repression by the Nicaraguan state against journalists and human rights defenders.

    On 12 December, the National Assembly approved a decree to cancel the legal registration of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH - Centro Nicaragüense de los Derechos Humanos), alleging that the organization has not presented finance reports since 2017, that it is “partial towards one social sector”, that it has “not acted in accordance to their objective of reaching peace with justice” and that the board of directors has “expired”. However, CENIDH has not been notified of any administrative process against it and its right to defence was denied.

    On 14 December, members of the National Police broke into the office of CENIDH without a warrant and took a car and some documents that belong to the organization. They also broke into the offices of the human rights organization Popol Na, entering without a judicial order, and harmed the mothers of detainees who were taking shelter there. According to the information received, they hit the security guard of the building, and took computers, documents, mobile phones and vehicles belonging to staff and to the organization. They also broke into the offices of the Segovias Leadership Institute (Instituto de Liderazgo de las Segovias), the River Foundation (Fundación del Río) and the independent newspaper El Confidencial known for its critical and investigative journalism.

    This is another example of the strategy of repression led by president Daniel Ortega and vice president and first lady Rosario Murillo against civil society organizations defending human rights in Nicaragua.

    Several international organizations have publicly denounced this attack, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Center for Justice and Internacional Law (CEJIL, Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional) and the World Organization Against Torture. CENIDH has been defending human rights in Nicaragua for 28 years, has a strong trajectory and legitimacy in the region, and is a long-standing partner organization of Amnesty International in Nicaragua.
     

    Please send a fax, email, tweet or letter without delay. 
    * Urge the President to immediately guarantee freedom of expression to media workers without repression, attacks, harassment and criminalization.
    * Urge the National Police to stop harassing and attacking independent media, human rights organizations, human rights defenders, and other dissenting voices.
    * Urge the National Assembly to refrain from arbitrarily attacking human rights defenders by shutting down their organizations.

    Here is the contact information you need:

    Daniel Ortega Saavedra
    Presidencia de la República
    Frente a Palacio Nacional, Calle 4 Noroeste
    Managua, Nicaragua 11001    
    Postage:    $2.50
    Fax:         011 505 2228 9090
    Twitter:     @DanielOrtega_Ni
    Salutation:     Dear Mr President

    National Police Director
    Francisco Javier Díaz Madriz    
    Metrocentro, 2 cuadras al Este
    Edificio Faustino Ruiz, Plaza del Sol
    Managua, Nicaragua
    Postage:    $2.50
    Email:        relacionespublicas@policia.gob.ni  or  seguridadpublica@policia.gob.ni 
    Salutation:     Dear Mr Director

    National Assembly President    
    Diputado Gustavo Porras Cortés
    Complejo Legislativo Carlos Núñez
    Avenida Peatonal General Augusto Sandino
    Managua, Nicaragua
    Postage:    $2.50
    Email:        gporras@asamblea.gob.ni  
    Salutation:     Dear Mr Deputy

     

    Please send a copy to

    His Excellency Maurizio Carlo Gelli
    Ambassador for Nicaragua 
    104 Black Maple Private 
    Ottawa, Ontario K1M 0T7 
    Postage:    $.85
    Email:        embanic.ca@gmail.com

    Amnesty International’s Central America team
    Email:        equipoca@amnesty.org

    Additional information

    Amnesty International has published two reports documenting the persecution and repression strategy carried out by the Nicaraguan State since the beginning of protests on 18 April 2018. On 29 May, Amnesty International launched the report Shoot to Kill: Nicaragua's strategy to repress protest which documents how, in response to social protests during April and May, the Nicaraguan government adopted a strategy of violent repression not seen in the country for years, with more than 70 people reportedly killed by the state during the first weeks of the protests. On 18 October, the second report Instilling terror: from lethal force to persecution in Nicaragua was launched to mark the six-month anniversary of the beginning of the protests. It documents several human rights violations committed between 30 May and 18 September and details the different elements that make up the state strategy of repression to supress protests.

    Amnesty International believes that these violations were carried out not only with the knowledge of the highest authorities of the Nicaraguan state, including the President and Vice-President of the Republic, but also on their orders and under their command in many cases.

    On 18 April, human rights defender Ana Quirós was attacked by pro-government armed groups while taking part in a demonstration. Amnesty International reported this in the above-mentioned report Shoot to kill: Nicaragua's strategy to repress protest. On 26 November, Amnesty International reported that Ana Quirós was arbitrarily detained, taken to El Chipote prison, driven to the border crossing point with Costa Rica with a deportation order, and expelled from Nicaragua. Ana has been a Nicaraguan national for 21 years through naturalization.

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