GENEVA (26 August 2019) – 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*.
“Recent allegations received show continued systematic repression of journalists and media workers, who have reported being harassed, silenced, threatened and severely assaulted,” the experts said.
Attacks 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 peaceful assembly, causing an accelerated 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 left the country leaving their families in a precarious situation. The authorities have not taken measures to prevent, investigate or prosecute such acts.
“Attacks on journalists and media workers violate the rights of individuals and society at large to seek and receive information. In a fragile 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 smear campaigns against and intimidation of the media in which their staff are accused of being enemies of the homeland. This is a clear measure to persuade society to lose confidence in the media and to dissuade the public from using their voice.”
The experts have expressed concern not only about the Radio Dario staff but also about the situation of journalists, media workers 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 and Ms Agnes Callamard (France), Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.