Daniel Ortega Called “an Enemy of the Free Press”

Journalists attacked in Metrocentro by officers. Carlos Herrera / Confidencial

Journalists and communicators demand an end to police violence against the task of informing; ten journalists were attacked on February 25

By Yader Luna  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The Independent Journalists and Communicators of Nicaragua Organization (PCIN) demanded that the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship cease the repression against the independent media and affirmed that “the regime of Daniel Ortega is an enemy of the free press.”

PCIN demanded that the criminalization of the profession be stopped, after several journalists were threatened and beaten by the police, during the activities on February 25, when the National Coalition was officially presented, and demonstrations were planned in Managua. At least ten reporters were attacked by police and paramilitaries when they covered various demonstrations of citizen protest.

“We demand the end of institutional repression that criminalizes the work of women and men of the press in Nicaragua, and denies citizens the right to access true information as is established by the Nicaraguan Constitution… We demand the State to immediately cease the theft of journalistic equipment and all aggression,” said PCIN in a statement read by the journalist, Julio Lopez, of Onda Local.

Likewise, they made a call to international organizations “to take note” of these new attacks and “demand that these repressive state actions do not continue against the independent press.”

PCIN explained that they keep a record of the aggressions against Nicaraguan journalists and are studying each case to eventually file a criminal accusation against the Police, police agents and paramilitaries identified by their victims to set a precedent of these aggressions.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemned the attacks on the independent press of Nicaragua and recalled “that journalists, in their coverage, disseminate information on the development of protests and the operations of the security forces.”

“In the exercise of their work, they should not be arrested or harassed by law enforcement agencies,” they wrote on their Twitter account.

The organization recalled that, on the contrary, police authorities have a duty to protect when journalists are victims of acts of violence by third parties, and their equipment and materials cannot be retained, seized or destroyed.

Threat to journalist is “very serious”

During the repression last Tuesday, a riot policeman threatened to kill journalist Yelsin Espinoza, of the digital platform “Nicaragua Actual,” who recently returned to the country after spending a year in exile in Costa Rica.

“Remember that you are from Calle Real, son of a bitch, and I am going to kill you and your family,” the policeman threatened the communicator while he was making a live broadcast of an express sit in and took refuge in a vehicle to avoid having his equipment stolen.

Attorney Julio Montenegro, of the People’s Defenders organization, explained that this threat was “very serious” and is a crime that must be investigated and prosecuted.

“It is a conduct that is punishable by the Criminal Code, police officers do not have immunity. That crime must be tried. That person (the riot policeman) who threatened should be the subject of a (judicial) process, it is a criminal conduct and a threat to the integrity of a human being,” the defense lawyer insisted.

Montenegro pointed out that the Police should proceed “proactively” and should initiate at least one administrative process to remove that riot policeman “because such behavior should not be endorsed.”

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