A Nicaraguan judge has ruled two workers of the newspaper La Prensa are to spend 90 days in pretrial detention after being arrested for reporting on the expulsion from the country of nuns belonging to Mother Teresa's Congregation.
The newsmen are held in cells at the Judicial Assistance Directorate (DAJ), the newspaper said. La Prensa demands respect for the law, the release of the detainees and the cessation of the persecution of the newspaper's staff who are only doing their job, without committing any crime, it claimed.
La Prensa said the measure was a response to the coverage of the expulsion to Costa Rica of nuns of the Missionaries of Charity order which was decreed by the Government of Daniel Ortega last Wednesday, which las labeled the Nicaraguan Catholic Church as an opponent and coup leader. Last March the Nicaraguan government expelled Nuncio Waldemar Sommertag. Between May and June, the authorities also closed two Catholic TV channels.
Meanwhile, all property which used to belong to NGOs outlawed by Ortega's regime -namely Operación Sonrisa, Centro Humboldt, Puntos de Encuentro, La Corriente, Cantera, CEPS, and ANIA - has been seized by government officials, according to a Confidencial report.
Nicaragua's National Assembly passed a law in April which tightens the Government's control over NGOs after in recent months the Executive of Daniel Ortega has ordered closures of independent organizations on the grounds of alleged formal irregularities. A total of 858 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have been outlawed, out of more than 6,000.
Ortega, the same one who received Mother Teresa of Calcutta in the 1980s, is the one who expelled her religious congregation from the country, denounced the independent Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) on Twitter. According to Cenidh, the nuns were deported as if they were criminals.
The religious organization was annulled last week by the Parliament, controlled by the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), along with a hundred other NGOs, because they failed to comply with the law by not reporting their financial statements or explaining the origin of the donations they receive.
The Cenidh insisted the authorities had violated the honor and reputation of the nuns by affirming that they were not accredited and worked illegally in Nicaragua.
According to La Prensa, the nuns, of various nationalities, left Nicaragua for Costa Rica by land.
La Corriente denounces before the Nicaraguan citizens and the international community that the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo today, July 8, has just completed the dispossession of the premises owned by our association, the organization said in a public statement. Clearly the cancellation of our legal personality and the seizure of our facilities is an illegal act that violates the freedom of association contained in the Constitution, said La Corriente, which for nearly 30 years defended women's rights and promoted democratic values.
Organizations such as the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) or Popol Na Foundation, suffered the same fate after being outlawed and their offices passed to state domain without prior notice.
Nicaragua is going through a socio-political crisis since April 2018, with mass demonstrations against the Ortega regime that were controlled by armed attacks that, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), left at least 355 dead, of which the Sandinista leadership recognizes just 200. The situation worsened with last November's elections, in which Ortega and Murillo were reelected, with seven of their potential opponents in jail and two in exile.