By Carlos F. Chamorro (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – A year ago, at midnight on December 13, 2018, the National Police assaulted the newsroom of Confidencial and “Esta Semana,” the independent media outlets that I’ve managed in Nicaragua for more than two decades.
The result was a huge theft, executed without any court order, which was continued the following day, December 14, with the occupation of our newsroom by armed Police, who have remained there every since on a permanent basis.
The assault and occupation of Confidencial is a multiple violation of rights, freedoms, constitutional guarantees, and represents a triple aggression: against freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of enterprise.
The occupation violates the right to private property, established in article 44 of the Constitution, which “prohibits the confiscation of property.” But, in addition, it violates articles 30, 66, 67 and 68 of the Constitution, referring to freedom of expression, freedom of information, prohibition of prior censorship against the media and the non-confiscation of media aimed at dissemination of thought.
Consequently, this aggression against Confidencial and Esta Semana TV, not only infringes our individual rights as journalists, including the right to work, but also affects citizens by denying them the constitutional right to receive information without any condition or restriction.
Additionally, by the Government imposing a de facto censorship against Channel 12 and the cable television system since January of this year, to prevent the dissemination of television programs Esta Semana and Esta Noche, the State is committing a doble violation to the right of access to information.
We have exhausted all legal means before the Public Ministry and the Supreme Court, to investigate the robbery perpetrated by the Police and order the suspension of this permanent occupation. However, we have received no response from the State.
On December 19 of last year, we filed a complaint with the Public Ministry for theft and organized crime against the National Police, in which we attached the provisional inventory of the assets seized from companies and workers, which included 35 computers, seven television cameras, two television editing machines, as well as the accounting and institutional documentation of the three companies and our own private information, in physical and digital format.
A year later, the Public Ministry led by the prosecutor Ana Julia Guido, has not conducted any investigation.
We presented three Amparo Appeals to the Supreme Court on behalf of the companies Invermedia-Confidencial, Promedia-Esta Semana and Cabal, which since the month of February of this year are waiting for a decision of the Constitutional Chamber that has already committed an act of delaying justice.
The chief of the National Police himself, Francisco Diaz, in a report sent to the Supreme Court admitted that he had no legal authority to confiscate the companies of the media outlets Invermedia-Confidencial and Promedia-Esta Semana.
In that official document, Diaz states that in December of last year the Police received a request from the Ministry of the Interior to assist in the seizure of the assets of the non-governmental organization Communication Research Center (CINCO), which was stripped of its legal status on December 13, 2018.
But what the Police did, was not to intervene the NGO CINCO, but to assault and occupy two media outlets and a third company, Cabal, –an environmental services consultancy–, that are registered in the Mercantile Registrar and have no relationship with the mentioned NGO.
This is the evidence in plain view of the Supreme Court to rule. If they really want to respect the principle of effective legal protection, they must order the Police to suspend the occupation.
On November 25, 2019, I returned to my country after almost eleven months of exile in Costa Rica. I came to exercise my constitutional rights as a journalist in Nicaragua, and to demand the suspension of the de facto state of siege, and an end to the persecution against independent journalism.
A year after the assault and occupation of Confidencial and 100% Noticias, we demand the following from the Ortega-Murillo regime:
The full restoration of democratic freedoms, as the Government agreed with the Civic Alliance in the second national dialogue on March 28, 2019, with the OAS and the Vatican as international witnesses.
To the Supreme Court:
To rule without delay and in accordance to law, on the amparo appeals presented, and order the suspension of the police occupation of Confidencial and 100% Noticias, so that those affected could lodge their respective demands for compensation before the State.
To the President of the Republic, Daniel Ortega:
That in his capacity as supreme chief of the National Police order the Police to suspend the illegal occupation of the media Confidencial and 100% Noticias [another news outlet also confiscated], to restore the constitutional right of citizens to freedom of information.
We Never Stopped Reporting
One year after the assault on Confidencial, the physical occupation of our newsroom and the persecution against our reporters, they were never able to silence us.
Despite the occupation of our television studio and television censorship, they were never able to silence Esta Semana and Esta Noche, which continue to defeat censorship through social networks.
Despite the attempt to silence us by force, they were never able to prevent us from further investigating and denouncing corruption and overseeing power.
Despite the threats and the repression of the dictatorship, the independent press resists in Nicaragua. Here we are; continuing to do journalism at the service of the truth.