MEXICO CITY — The Committee to Protect Journalists and three other press freedom groups called on the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega Wednesday to stop harassing and targeting media outlets. The call came on Nicaragua’s Journalists Day.
“News outlets have been forced to close and individual journalists threatened, harassed, sued, surveilled and jailed, as dozens more fled the country for their own safety” since the government began cracking down on protests in 2018, according to the CPJ statement.
Ortega’s government has seized media properties and passed laws mandating prison sentences for those who use online platforms to spread information the government considers false or alarming.
In December, two media outlets and several non-governmental groups said their offices were confiscated by the government of President Daniel Ortega, with placards posted at the properties reading “Property of the Health Ministry.” The signs indicated the properties would be used as maternal welfare or drug treatment centres.
The offices in most cases were closed by the government following the 2018 protests against Ortega and have been occupied by police since then.
The CPJ wrote that on February 23, Nicaragua’s Health Ministry “opened a maternal health centre in the Managua offices that previously housed the news website Confidencial and the television program Esta Semana. … The Health Ministry announced it also intends to use the offices where news channel 100% Noticias channel previously operated.”
In early February, a former Nicaraguan president’s press freedom organization said it was suspending its activities due to a controversial law that requires people and organizations receiving funds from outside Nicaragua to register as “foreign agents” with the Interior Ministry. Groups must provide detailed reports of their income and expenditures to the government or face hefty fines, jail time and seizure of their property.
“We call on Nicaraguan officials to uphold their international obligations to protect these fundamental rights, stop using restrictive laws and the state security apparatus to intimidate and censor the press, and allow reporters and press freedom organizations to resume their activities in the country,” according to the press groups’ statement.
The Associated Press