IAB Condemns Human Rights, Censorship in Nicaragua

NAB President Curtis LeGeyt opened the IAB 48th General Assembly (Image credit: IAB)

WASHINGTON—The IAB held its 48th General Assembly at the new NAB headquarters in Washington, May 23-26, with delegations representing 16 countries of the Three Americas. 

The IAB marked the event with what it called an “Extraordinary Declaration: "Nicaragua: the destruction of democracy," in which it reiterated "its strongest condemnation of the regime of Daniel Ortega and groups that are related to him, for their systematic censorship against journalists and media, as well as for the constant violations of human rights and democratic principles in Nicaragua, emphasizing that without these there is no democracy."

The IAB’s declaration noted that that “during 2021 the persecution and harassment of journalists and independent media has continued and intensified even more, through arbitrary arrests, raids and unfounded accusations, along with the closure and improper occupation of media facilities by Nicaraguan police forces.”

It also noted that that journalists and media executives in Nicaragua have been sentenced to prison terms of between 9 and 13 years, “dictated in processes that have not complied with the minimum guarantees for the exercise of the right to defense,” and that “as a result of these persecutions, many communicators, journalists, broadcasters and media directors have been forced to leave Nicaragua and go into exile in other countries, which has further increased censorship of freedom of information in the country.”

NAB President Curtis LeGeyt opened the assembly along with Dr. Pedro Vaca, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR of the OAS, and IAB President Lic. Eugenio Sosa Mendoza. LeGeyt highlighted the work being done in the United States to develop new technologies, such as NEXT TV Generation and HD Radio.

LeGeyt also pointed out, "above all things, the importance of fighting daily for Freedom of Expression and of the Press in the face of attempts to control the media and to spread disinformation in our societies.”

Next, Eugenio Sosa Mendoza, IAB President, recalled the pioneers of the association, who 75 years ago joined together to found IAB, with the purpose of defending the great cause of freedom and democracy. Sosa Mendoza warned that "there still exist today autocrats who are obsessed with applying regulations to impose hegemonic control of their regimes and subjugate or close down free and independent media."

"Whatever the attacks, whatever the sign of violence, wherever it comes from, we will stand united and firm to confront them everywhere," concluded IAB President.

At the end, the Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Dr. Pedro Vaca, addressed all the attendees to present the risks and challenges facing freedom of expression, journalists and the media in the region.

Dr. Vaca referred, among other aspects of vital importance for the health of democratic systems, warning about the deterioration of public debate, the sustainability of the media, education in the use of social networks and algorithms as well as the mechanisms of indexing content in the digital ecosystem.

During the inaugural ceremony, IAB and the Inter American Press Association commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Panama Doctrine on Freedom of Expression by signing the "Declaration of Washington", where they renewed their commitment to Freedom of Expression and the Right to Information.

Both hemispheric organizations affirmed that they "will continue with their efforts to expand to all regions the ideology of freedom that for decades they have promoted in the three Americas, due to the fact that in the 21st century threats and actions that threaten the existence of journalism and free and independent media persist in the world."

The IAB also paid tribute to Don Boris Eserzki, a pioneer of television in El Salvador and Honorary President of IAB, who passed away March 18.

IAB also elected new officers during the Assembly:

  • President: Lic. Eugenio Sosa Mendoza
  • 1st Vice President: Eng. José Luis Saca
  • 2nd Vice President: Dr. Tulio Ángel Arbelaez
  • Secretary Vice President: Dr. Flavio Lara Resende
  • Treasurer Vice President: Mr. Gustavo Piedra Guzmán
  • Director General: Dr. Juan Andrés Lerena