This Thursday May 20, for the second time, police broke into the offices of the news media Confidencial, attacking and arbitrarily arresting national and international journalists who were present. This breaking and entering took place with no advance notification of administrative or judicial orders. Today it was also reported that an investigatory process has been opened against the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation for the alleged offense of “money laundering,” a clear attempt by the Nicaraguan government to criminalize this institution and put an end to its work of promoting freedom of expression and information in numerous independent news media in the country.
In the context of the elections taking place in the country, these attacks are apparently aimed at escalating restrictions on freedom of expression and information –restrictions that have prevailed in Nicaragua especially since 2018 in an effort to silence voices and narratives that are critical of the current government.
We are also concerned that these attacks may set a precedent for a new government strategy of limiting freedom of assembly in the country much like that which in 2018 led to the cancellation of the legal status of nine organizations with a long history of the defense and promotion of human rights in Nicaragua, including CENIDH, CISAS, the Leadership Institute of the Segovias (ILLS), the Foundation for the Conservation and Development of the South-East of Nicaragua (Rio Foundation) and the Popol Na Foundation for Municipal Promotion and Development.
We of IM-Defensoras condemn these attacks on fundamental rights such as the freedom of expression, information, and assembly, and we express our concern over the consequences that such aggression may have for diverse independent news media and human rights organizations. Many of these work for the rights of women with a feminist agenda, and despite an adverse situation, continue to engage in their work for human rights and the common good of the Nicaraguan people.
In the same vein, we send out an urgent call to the international community to stay abreast of the situation and to speak out about the situation in Nicaragua, especially in this electoral framework in which the government is stepping up its authoritarian strategy of persecution, repression, and systematic attacks against any expression of dissidence.