Forced displacement of journalists. The Special Cybercrime Law threatens independent media.

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During the last month, around 40 independent journalists and communicators have been summoned to testify before the Prosecutor’s Office, mostly as part of the investigations on the alleged money laundering case, in which Daniel Ortega’s regime intends to involve the Violeta Barrios Foundation of Chamorro (FVBCH).

Among the communication professionals cited in recent days by the journalist, there is poet and director of “Radio Camoapa”, Juan Carlos Duarte, who appeared to testify on June 25.

“It was a basic interview to fulfill the obligation, they asked me about my relationship with the FVBCH, which had to do with training, knowledge improvement, and scholarships. We have done absolutely nothing wrong, and what we said is true ”, said Duarte.

Georgina Ruiz, representative of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), reported that the questions that the prosecutors asked to Duarte were outside the law. “They were questions about the work he does as a journalist; he answered all the questions and obviously, there is the possibility -as in any investigation process- that he will be called again”.

Deterioration of democracy

On June 30, the president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Antonia Urrejola, warned about what she described as the “intense asphyxia” of civil and political liberties in Nicaragua, after the arrest of 21 people linked to the opposition, including five presidential candidates for the November 7 elections.

Urrejola chaired a virtual public hearing of the IACHR on the situation of political rights in the Nicaraguan electoral context. She described the deterioration of democratic spaces and freedom of the press, expression and mobilization suffered by the Nicaraguans as “alarming”.

Vilma Núñez , president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), said that the country is going through “one of the worst human rights crises in recent decades” and noted that its effects “have been so devastating that no figure can fully describe the gravity of the situation “.

Forced exile for communicators

In recent weeks, an unknown number of independent journalists have had to leave Nicaragua, due to harassment and threats from the government – according to what communicators are posting on social networks.

After the second exile of Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who has been in Costa Rica since mid-June, also journalists Sergio Marín Cornavaca (director of the “La Mesa Redonda” portal), and Julio César López (director of the radio program “ Onda Local ”, who wrote his experience in Confidencial) left the country. Several more journalists have gone into exile, but they have not revealed where.

“I estimate that there are at least 10 new journalists who have gone into exile to protect their freedom and safety” said Lucía Pineda Ubau, current director of the channel 100% Noticias (which broadcasts online after being closed and confiscated in 2018) who is also based in Costa Rica.

“The Ortega-Murillo regime is moving another heavy attack against the independent press. In 2018 we experienced a similar situation. More than 80 journalists had to go into exile – many of us were imprisoned or had to emigrate. Today we are seeing many colleagues leaving, “said Pineda Ubau, who was imprisoned for six months for having exercised her right to inform during the 2018 protests.

The president of the Nicaraguan Parliament threatens the media

On July 4 the president of the Nicaraguan National Assembly Gustavo Porras threatened to rigorously apply Law 1042 (the Special Cybercrime Law) against journalists and independent media that “misinform and act against the country and its people “.

Porras said that articles 28, 29 and 30 of this law punish those who “threaten” or “defame” Sandinista officials. “We have seen the media threatening even the president of the Republic and the vice president (…) we cannot continue to allow this” he said.

“We have these legal instruments, because anybody can come and talk about anything, and defame me on the media” he said.

He even targeted the international media that spread news about Nicaragua. “These transnational media belong to large corporations, they are the instruments through which musicians play the music that the Yankee tell them to play” said Porras.Eye On Nicaragua

PEN Internacional y los Centros PEN América, Argentina y San Miguel de Allende, con el apoyo de los Centros PEN en el continente, conforman el Observatorio “Ojo en Nicaragua”, un espacio donde se muestran y registran los intentos de censura por parte del gobierno de Nicaragua.

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