In headlines now / 26.02.2019

Solidarity with Nicaraguan independent journalists

After the outbreak of political and social crisis in Nicaragua in April 2018, 325 people have been killed in ten months, more than 500 detained and persecuted, over 500 are missing, and thousands have fled out of the country according to statistics given by several human rights organizations. Finnish NGO’s and official development cooperation have worked in Nicaragua for over 30 years in support to strengthen civil society and build democracy. Finnish cooperation has been committed to freedom of opinion and expression, and people’s right to knowledge. The situation in Nicaragua has turned into aggression against media outlets and journalists covering civil unrest and documenting human rights abuses by police and paramilitary groups. The Finnish Foundation for Media and Communication (VIKES) and the Union of Journalists in Finland (UJF) condemn unequivocally the physical and mental threats, intimidation, harassment, and persecution experienced by Nicaraguan independent journalists, which has driven more than 60 journalists into exile. The office of the president, which exerts control over almost all aspects of government, must order police to stop raiding newsrooms, return all seized equipment and documents, and allow news outlets to work without fear of violent reprisal, interference, or arrest. We urge the immediate release of imprisoned journalists and media workers, or those that have become victims of enforced disappearances. We call on Nicaragua to respect international guarantees for freedom of expression and to cease harassing the independent press. A free and independent media is vital to the functioning of a healthy democratic society, in Nicaragua and throughout the world. We call states, agencies, and international organizations to follow up the situation of the media and independent journalists remaining in the country. Helsinki, Finland February 2019 Juha Rekola International Ombudsman, Union of Journalists in Finland President, The Finnish Foundation for Media and Development VIKES

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