New law undermines civil and political rights

Association

Feedom of association in Nicaragua is being seriously threatened by the recent introduction of the Sovereign Security Act in December 2015. This law empowers the Executive to decide which topics are considered to be in the national interest. Any person or organisation working against those interests will be considered an enemy of the state and posecuted accordingly. In early 2016, Nicaragua’s Human Rights Commission declared that this law seriously undermines the exercise of civil and political rights. 

Peaceful Assembly

The Sovereign Security Act also affects Nicaraguans’ freedom of peaceful assembly because it gives military and police forces the right to stop or forbid the development of any protest that is considered to be aimed at undermining the national interest. The problem was exemplified during the ongoing protests against building the Nicaraguan Canal. Farmers have organised themselves to protest on the route of the Canal but those efforts have been restricted by police, who forced protesters to move from one part of the country to another, where they are supposed to gather. The government also organises counter-protests to stop the advance of the anti-Canal protests.

Expression 

Even though the Nicaraguan Constitution protects freedom of expression, civil society organisations report that the government is consistently restricting the exercise of this right. This happens through the forced closure of local and independent radio stations, buying stocks in mass media enterprises and threatening to withdraw advertising from media that is considered anti-government. Self-censorship is widespread within the Nicaraguan media, due to state control of advertising. However, in the last six months, no specific case of overt media censorship was identified.