Nicaragua passes highly controversial “Putin” law. Anyone who receives money from abroad and works in Nicaragua will have to register as a foreign agent in the future – similar to Russia. Further laws are planned. Critics fear human rights violations.
Nicaragua passes highly controversial “Putin” law
Nicaragua’s parliament has passed a much criticized law on “Regulating Foreign Agents”. Accordingly, people and organizations who receive money from abroad and who are active in Nicaragua must register as foreign agents in the future. They regularly have to report to the authorities about the use of these funds and are excluded from political activities.
According to the Sandinista ruling party FSLN of the authoritarian President Daniel Ortega, this is intended to combat foreign interference in Nicaragua. The socialist FSLN, which controls the parliament of the Central American country, approved the law that it had introduced itself on Thursday with 70 to 17 votes.
Law should make political opponents incapable of acting
The head of the opposition alliance Alianza Cívica, Juan Sebastián Chamorro, condemned the law as a violation of human rights and the constitution. It aims to make opponents of the “dictatorship” incapable of action. He spoke of the “Putin Law” because it is similar to a regulation in Russia – since 2012, non-governmental organizations there have had to register as foreign agents if they finance themselves with foreign money.
Last week, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on EU heads of state and government to extend sanctions already imposed on Ortega supporters to include the president and his wife and vice-president Rosario Murillo, should the law and two others be passed in Nicaragua.
Law could put critical posts under prison sentence
One of the other laws is aimed at cybercrime and could, among other things, impose prison sentences on critical posts on social media. The other provides life sentences for vaguely defined “hate crimes”. Both could be approved by the National Assembly in Managua in the coming days.
The EU Parliament had also called for Nicaragua to be excluded from an association agreement with the EU because of the government’s “repression”. Because of the new laws, the human rights organization Amnesty International had warned of a “new phase of repression” in Nicaragua.