April 1st 2019.- IFEX-ALC, a network of organisations who defend freedom of expression and press freedom in 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries, is sending a joint delegation alongside World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC-ALC) and the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) to the UN Office in Geneva in the run-up to Nicaragua's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 15 May.
The UPR is a comprehensive human rights review that every UN member state undergoes every 5 years. Civil society has a crucial role to play in the UPR process, and the joint delegation from IFEX-ALC, AMARC-ALC, and IAPA will meet directly with officials from UN member states to ensure that freedom of expression concerns reported by journalists and activists on the ground are reflected in this dialogue.
"Nicaragua's upcoming UPR is an important opportunity to improve the climate for freedom of expression in Nicaragua, which is now in a critical condition," said IFEX-ALC Coordinating Committee President Marianela Balbi. "Our recommendations are based on feedback from journalists and activists on the ground in Nicaragua, and aim to strengthen freedom of expression in that country. Supporting these recommendations would send a clear signal to President Ortega's government about its failure to protect essential rights."
"Without freedom of the press, there is no freedom", said Monica Valdes, Vice President of AMARC-ALC. "That's the message we'll be conveying clearly to representatives from UN member states in Geneva."
The joint recommendations from IFEX-ALC, AMARC-ALC, and IAPA are designed to address three major challenges: attacks against journalists and a climate of impunity; indirect censorship; and the criminalization of expression and assembly.
Attacks against journalists and a climate of impunity:
● Take immediate action to halt all acts of physical aggression, intimidation and threats originating from violent groups, para-police forces and paramilitary forces aligned with the government. Additionally, stop all government affiliates from using technical means to block access to media outlets or defaming, insulting or revealing the private information of independent journalists and opposition activists on social media networks.
● Carry out thorough investigations into all acts of violence against journalists and media outlets, including the assassination on 21 April 2018 of Ángel Eduardo Gahona, and apply the full force of the law to those responsible, in order to avoid a state of impunity that will encourage further violence.
● Immediately adopt the most appropriate measures to guarantee the physical and psychological safety of media professionals via the implementation of protection protocols.
● Respect and comply with the precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in favour of the victims, activists, journalists and their relatives who have been attacked and threatened.
● Ensure that the allocation of government advertising be subject to regulations that guarantee the application of fair, transparent and objective criteria.
● Fully guarantee the right to community-level media through access to adequate operating conditions and financing options from diverse sources.
Criminalization of expression and assembly:
● Refrain from criminalising demonstrations and those who participate in them. Guarantee protection for journalists covering demonstrations and ensure that security force responses are not repressive, but rather fulfil a role of safeguarding protestors.
● Work with national and international institutions to search for an appropriate and definitive framework that promotes respectful and tolerant dialogue and leads to a democratic solution to the serious and ongoing socio-political crisis in the country.
The full set of recommendations from IFEX-ALC, AMARC-ALC, and IAPA is also available online.
About IFEX-ALC, AMARC-ALC, and IAPA:
IFEX-ALC is an alliance of 23 organisations promoting and defending the right to freedom of expression in Latin America and the Caribbean and who form part of the broader IFEX network that defends and promotes free expression worldwide. A full list of IFEX-ALC member organisations is available on their website.
AMARC defends communication rights and the right to establish community media
with citizen participation. AMARC is a network comprised of community radio stations,
production centres and television stations. The organisation has more than 500 direct associates in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the number reaches 1500 via its national networks.
The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to defending freedom of expression and press freedom throughout the Americas. The IAPA is comprised of member media outlets or newspaper chains that today include more than 1300 affiliated publications.