Ahead of World Press Freedom Day and more than a year since the Nicaraguan government launched its strategy of repression against the protests that began on 18 April 2018, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:
“It is deplorable that the Nicaraguan authorities continue to repress the press and violate its right to inform. In recent years, courageous journalists and media workers have faced attacks while covering protests and have been harassed and persecuted for doing their job and exercising their right to freedom of expression. Some, such as Lucía Pineda and Miguel Mora of the independent 100% Noticias channel, have been detained and are still in prison. More than 70 journalists and media workers have been forced to leave the country.”
“Amnesty International continues to receive reports of attacks against the press and harassment of journalists. The authorities must immediately release the journalists that have been detained exclusively for exercising their right to freedom of press and must stop attempts to silence the independent media. The authorities must carry out an immediate, impartial and independent investigation into all the attacks against the press to ensure identification of the perpetrators and reparations to victims.”
On 18 April 2018, a series of social security reforms triggered protests throughout Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan government adopted a strategy of violent repression in response to the demonstrations. Since then, at least 325 people have been killed, mainly at the hands of state security forces and pro-government armed groups, more than 2,000 have been wounded, hundreds have been arbitrarily detained and tens of thousands have fled to Costa Rica.
Amnesty International has received reports of attacks on media and journalists who are critical of the Daniel Ortega government. At the start of the crisis, on 21 April 2018, the Nicaraguan reporter Ángel Gahona was shot and killed in Bluefields while covering the protests. Another nine journalists were wounded on the same date. Later, on 30 May, during the March of the Mothers, the facilities of the 100% News Channel in Managua and Radio Darío in León were attacked.
On 13 December, the National Police raided the offices of the digital newspaper El Confidencial and the television programmes Esta Noche and Esta Semana, all known for their critical investigative journalism.
On 21 December, two journalists from the independent channel 100% Noticias, Lucía Pineda Ubau and Miguel Mora, were arrested and accused of “incitement and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism and incitement of hate crimes”. 100% Noticias staff, including its director Miguel Mora, had previously denounced threats, harassment and persecution by both the Nicaraguan authorities and government supporters.
There have also been constant reports of harassment against journalists and media managers at, for example, La Prensa, Radio Darío, Radio Mi Voz and Canal 12.