NICARAGUA In a measure that is detrimental to press freedom, the National Assembly approved on December 13, 2000, a law establishing the Nicaraguan Journalists’ Colegio, which violates Principle 8 of the Declaration of Chapultepec and Principle 6 of the Inter-American Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression of the OAS Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. On January 26, President Arnoldo Alemán vetoed parts of the bill. On March 6, the National Assembly approved the president’s veto which corrected, added or eliminated parts of 23 articles, eliminated seven articles of the original 50 and approved the remaining 43 articles as amended. When he presented his partial veto, the president cited the advisory opinion on obligatory licensing of journalists by the Inter-American Human Rights Court in November 1985, which states that “to impede anyone’s access to the full use of the media as a way to express himself and transmit information, is incompatible with Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights.” However, the president’s veto kept the articles on obligatory licensing which violate both the American Convention on Human Rights and Article 66 of the Nicaraguan constitution. Both the original bill and the law that was approved in accordance with the president’s partial veto are unconstitutional, ambiguous and contradictory and restrict press freedom with legal sanctions. Article 3, Paragraph C of the law as approved establishes as one of its principles “to defend freedom of expression, information and communication as established in the Nicaraguan Constitution as the right of all citizens.” But Article 6 of the Licensing Law restricts the right of the people to disseminate information by stating that “to work in journalism or in related professions it is necessary to have a credential from the Nicaraguan Journalists Colegio.” The third paragraph of the same article states that “Positions held in private or state enterprises by journalists accredited by the Nicaraguan Journalists Colegio will be subject to statutory regulation.” The next paragraph says that violation of these rules “shall be considered illegal practice of journalism and will be punished by the police in the normal manner or at the request of an individual under Articles 29 and 31 of the Police Regulations (vagrancy).” The police regulation, dating from 1880, punishes men “who have no profession, legal trade or other known honest livelihood” with “eight days of public works for the first offense, 16 for the second, and a month in subsequent cases." Article 4 of the law establishes the following requirements for a journalist: A) having a university degree in journalism B) having a temporary license granted to students who have successfully completed the third year in a journalism school. Article 5 also considers as professional journalists legal foreign residents who are accredited by the Journalists Colegio as long as Nicaraguan journalists can be accredited in their country. On October 24, Jorge Loáisiga of La Prensa asked President Alemán a question that he apparently did not like. The president pushed him aside with his arm, almost knocking him down, and then all the president’s bodyguards shoved him violently. Three days later, Carole Thimpson, La Prensa’s correspondent in Somoto, was hit in the stomach by one of the president’s bodyguards when she approached him for an interview. The next day, October 28, in Granada, William Briones, of La Prensa, tried to ask president Alemán about a report of illegal payments of $6 million and the president’s bodyguard grabbed him by the neck, hit him and moved him away from the president. The last attack took place on December 4, when Eloísa Ibarra of El Nuevo Diario asked the president if he was a friend of Oscar Espinoza Villareal, a Mexican fugitive accused of a $45 million fraud and if that was the reason that Espinoza fled to Nicaragua. Alemán grabbed her right arm, squeezed it forcefully and shook her, saying, “Get out of here, get out, get out. On January 17 the president commented on these incidents during a speech on Radio 560. He said he had been accused of attacking journalists, but it would have been much worse for them if they had dared to do what they did on “Face the People,” referring to a program during the Sandinista government. President Alemán also has refused to answer questions from La Prensa’s journalists in informal meetings with reporters. La Prensa’s reporters have been forced to transmit their questions through other reporters. The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) has also begun to attack journalists verbally. In one of the most serious attacks, Tomás Borge, former Sandinista interior minister, said in a speech February 24 that the media “are beginning their diabolical mission of calling the possibility of the people’s paradise hell,” He added that the media “feed on libel as vultures feed on carrion.” The large government tax penalty of La Prensa has been appealed to the Supreme Court. At the same time, Carlos Briceño, owner of Telenica Canal 8 said the Social Security agency had lowered an excessive surcharge for a debt, but it was not lowered substantially. He also complained that his company’s debt was not treated equally as that of other companies. President Alemán promised on September 8, Journalists’ Day, that “in the future there will be no discrimination in the placement of government advertising for political reasons.” But the situation has not changed at all and the government continues to favor the governing party’s paper, La Noticia. A study by the independent research firm Servicios Publicitarios Computarizados found that placement of government advertising from October 2000 to February 2001 was as follows: La Prensa 33%; El Nuevo Diario, 47%; La Noticia, 31%. But according to the most recent survey by the National Organization of Advertising Agencies, the readership of these newspapers is as follows: La Prensa, 51%; El Nuevo Diario, 47%; La Noticia, 2%. There is a similar trend in the broadcast media, where the study by Servicios Publicitarios Computarizados found that the television and radio stations with ties to the government or supporting the government receive the most government advertising.