In the last two months, journalist Jacksell Herrera is under threat by Police officers, as well as supporters of Daniel Ortega. On this past Sunday four policemen attacked, handcuffed and threatened to arrest him until they erased a video he had filmed with his phone when stopped by motorcyclists.
“I was walking to my house in Pantasma (Jinotega) when I saw that they were attacking two citizens who were riding a motorcycle. I was struck by the violence with which they were treated and that’s why I started recording them. They were about 12 policemen and when they saw me, four of them jumped on me to try to take my phone from me and since I refused, they handcuffed me,” he stated.
The journalist, who contributes to the “Nicaragua Actual” platform, asserts that one of the officers asked him why he was recording them. When he identified himself as a journalist, “he insulted me” and “threatened to imprison me.”
Herrera says that when he saw “such aggressiveness” and since it was eight o’clock at night, he told them that he would delete the video “so they would let me go.” However, he insisted that it was a violation of his constitutional rights to practice journalism. An officer replied: “here there is nothing that protects journalists. Here the laws establish that nobody can go around recording us and then publish that on social networks or in a media outlet.”
“They don’t want us to report”
The Ortega regime approved the Special Cyber Crimes Law, which, according to independent journalists, threatens press freedom, criminalizes investigative reporting and gives the green light to spy on private communications.
The controversial law, which has been baptized as the “Gag Law,” entered into effect on December 30, 2020. It has been rejected by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the European Parliament, and the United States, among others.
The law, consisting of 48 articles, proposes to punish with jail the propagation of fake and/or distorted news that cause alarm, fear, anxiety in the population, or to a group or sector of it or to a family. However, the application of the law is “discretionary,” denounced the Independent Press Forum of Nicaragua.
“Definitely what they want is to silence us, but our commitment is with our audiences and we must continue reporting,” says Herrera.
Constant threats against Jacksell Herrera
This journalist, 21, assures that he experiences “constant threats from police in the streets and from Ortega supporters on social media.” They threaten him with jail and death.
“It is a constant abuse with the sole intention of intimidating journalists needed to keep the population informed,” he says.
Herrera said they’ve threatened him on several occasions. They say that if he publishes something “against the Police” again, they will arrest him.
The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) condemned the attack against Herrera and pointed out that “the regime’s abuse of authority, the misuse of force plus the disrespect for freedom of expression and the press” is evident.
The Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation recently revealed that in 2020 it documented 360 violations of press freedom, including the confiscation of the premises of Channel 100% Noticias, Confidencial and the community radio station “La Voz Juvenil” of the Rio Foundation.
Every 30 hours in Nicaragua during 2020 an attack on the independent press was committed, noted the Violeta Barrios foundation.