Nicaragua: Daniel Ortega’s government approved a law to punish “false news” in media and social networks

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“The liars ran out of business,” said the official deputy Emilio López in the debate in Congress. Strong opposition criticism.

The Nicaraguan Congress, with an official majority, approved a cybercrime law, known as law “gag“, which punishes with jail the persons and entities that the government considers to spread” false news “on social networks or the media.

The questioned initiative was approved with 70 votes in favor, all of deputies from the ruling Sandinista Front (FSLN, left) of Daniel Ortega, and 16 against the liberal opposition.

“Liars are out of business, to those who are part of the industry of lies on social networks, to those who create and spread false news creating alarm, fear and anxiety, affecting economic stability, public order, “the ruling deputy Emilio said in the debate Lopez.

The text indicates that the “spread of fake news” It will be sanctioned with two to four years in prison. If “misrepresented information” harms the honor of a person and their family, the penalty will be one to three years in prison.

While the publications that “incite hatred and violence” will receive three to five years in prison.

Deputy Azucena Castillo, from the right-wing Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC), denounced that the law is “aimed at the opposition” and “comes to ignite the climate of repression” that has existed in the country since the 2018 anti-government protests.

The law empowers the Ministry of the Interior, the police, and the state Nicaraguan Telecommunications Company (TELCOR) to investigate and prosecute crimes committed by the media and computer applications that produce, reproduce and transmit graphics and texts.

“This law aims at control and censor information on the internet, the only space for free communication that dictators cannot dominate, ” the Independent Press Forum, which brings together reporters, bloggers, journalists’ unions, owners and directors of media outlets, warned at the beginning of the month.

The legislation was approved just 12 days after the controversial “Law of Foreign Agents ”, promoted by the Ortega government to “regulate” the activities of individuals and NGOs that receive financing from abroad and penalize those who use those resources against “the security of the State.”

Ortega has also announced that he will promote the establishment of life imprisonment to punish those who commit “hate crimes”, a concept that the government uses to refer to the actions of the opposition. So far the maximum penalty in Nicaragua is 30 years in prison.

Nicaragua is preparing to hold presidential and legislative elections in November 2021, in which Ortega would again run for a fifth term. The 74-year-old former guerrilla ruled from 1985 to 1990, returned to power in 2007 and was re-elected twice (2011 and 2016) in elections questioned by the opposition. His wife Rosario Murillo has been the vice president since 2016.

Source: AFP and AP

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