Nicaragua’s “Gag Law” Takes Force

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Nicaragua’s National Assembly directors. Photo: EFE

HAVANA TIMES – The Special Cybercrime Law, known as “Gag Law”, now enters into force in Nicaragua. It aims to criminalize the exercise of journalism in the country, says the Nicaraguan Independent Journalists and Communicators (PCIN) organization.

The group expressed its opinion through a statement rejecting the law. The said: “It represents one of the worst threats to freedom of expression and of the press in recent years. Likewise, it threatens independence in the exercise of journalism and communication in Nicaragua.”

According to PCIN, “any information offered by independent journalism can be typified [a crime] by judges subordinated to Ortega. It doesn’t matter if the information is verified by multiple sources.” Furthermore they note “several articles of this law designed to repress journalists of the independent press.”

Additionally, PCIN denounces four articles of the “Gag Law” that “are like a rifle pointing at the heads of journalists and communicators.” Article 30, the worst one, penalizes the spread of fake or misrepresented news that causes alarm, fear and anxiety in the population and that damages honor, prestige or reputation and incites hatred or violence.”

They also denounce Article 33, which deals with harassment through ICTs, and criminalizes those who torment, harass, humiliate, insult, and denigrate.

A punishment tool

PCIN adds their concern over the use of criminal law as a “punishment tool” and the prison sentences of 2 to 10 years, which is “disproportionate.”

The “Gag Law” is of “extraterritorial” application with which the regime wants to extradite those who allegedly commit this crime outside Nicaragua.

“We urge community and national and international human rights organizations to join us in the defense process against the ‘Cybercrimes Law’. It generates the utmost concern for its potential use against journalists, communicators and dissenting voices. And it comes in the already deteriorated state of human rights in Nicaragua,” ends the PCIN statement.

The Special Cybercrimes Law, promoted by the dictator Daniel Ortega, was approved by the Sandinista deputies on October 27, 2020, and just took effect.  It seeks to prosecute and punish crimes committed through information and communication technologies in the country.

Read more news from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.