Journalists, editors, columnists, photographers, cameramen, writers, caricaturists, bloggers, foreign correspondents and media owners in Nicaragua jointly signed a statement in defense of freedom of the press and expression, and demanded that an independent commission investigate the acts of repression that have occurred since April 18 and have left at least 46 dead, reported confidencial.com.ni.
Pronouncement of the Independent Press in Nicaragua
In defense of freedom of the press and freedom of expression, we demand an end to the repression and the acts of aggression against journalists and the communications media.
We, the undersigned, are independent journalists: reporters, editors, columnists, photographers, cameramen, cartoonists, bloggers, correspondents and owners of communication sites and media, both local and national.
Given the seriousness of the repression that has been unleashed in Nicaragua since April 18, 2018, and which has left more than 46 dead, plus dozens of wounded and missing:
- We condemn the massacre, and demand that it be investigated by a commission independent of the State, so as to establish the truth and submit those responsible to justice.
- We condemn the acts of aggression suffered by journalists and communications media, acts that have remained unpunished:
- The assassination of Angel Gahona in Bluefields
- The attack on and destruction of Radio Dario in Leon
- The physical aggression against journalists who were covering the protests and the theft of their professional equipment
- The illegal censorship imposed by Telcor [Nicaraguan state telecommunications company] against the television stations 100% Noticias, Channel 12, Telenorte in the city of Esteli, and other television media.
The assassination of journalists, the acts of aggression against reporters and cameramen while performing their journalistic work and the censure of the media are practices that should be ended in this land once and for all.
- We reject all aggression – direct or indirect – against journalists from any of the communications media, and we demand of the State and of society a zero tolerance policy for attacks against journalists.
- We demand of President Daniel Ortega’s government full respect for the right to freedom of thought and the right to information, as established in articles 30, 66, 67 and 68 of the Political Constitution of Nicaragua.
- We recognize the extraordinary outpouring of citizens who – making use of their constitutional right – are providing information through the social networks. Thanks to their empowerment, censorship and the official monologue are being defeated. We reject the regime’s plans to impose censorship and restrictions to limit this citizens’ right.
- As professional journalists, we reiterate our commitment to ethical self-regulation and the search for the truth, only divulging information that has been confirmed by a rigorous spectrum of sources.
- We reject the campaigns of slander and defamation directed against journalists, and hold the State responsible for its consequences.
- We demand an end to the secrecy in the State policies for communication, and call for the restoration of the right to public information established in Law 621, the Law of Access to Public Information, as well as in the Constitution.
- The distribution of official publicity should not continue as a monopoly of the media belonging to the governing family and their inner circle, nor be utilized to punish the media outlets that are critical of the actions of the State.
- Telcor [State Mail and Tele-communications Company] should function as an institution removed from government interests, so that it not continue to be utilized as a club to threaten the media that are critical of the Government. The Direccion General de Ingresos [Tax institution]; the Direccion General de Aduanas [Customs] and the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute should cease serving as instruments of coercion against the communications media.
Throughout our history, the conquest of freedom of expression in Nicaragua has had an extremely high cost: journalists assassinated, exiled, and/or jailed; professional equipment confiscated; and subjected to large fines.
Covering the protests forms part of the obligatory everyday work realized by journalists from the different communications media. Nicaraguans have the right to follow the development of events that mark the nation’s direction.
In virtue of the aforementioned, we call on the State in the first place, and on all Nicaraguans to respect the right and obligation that journalists have to realize their work without receiving any kind of harassment.
We demand zero acts of aggression against journalists, plus no type of reprisals on the part of the State against the media for the simple fulfillment of their sacred duty to inform.
Managua, Nicaragua, May 9, 2018
Translated by Habana Times