Dominican Republic

Complaints have been received from at least two journalists in recent months. Marino Zapete and Julio Martínez Pozo said they felt pressured by government officials who tried to pull government advertising in response to criticism of the administration, but no specific action had been taken to prevent these journalists from freely going about their work. The language used by president Hipólito Mejía on a number of occasions to show his disagreement with journalists, publishers and editors has raised criticism in the press and may have led to self-censorship. This has been of some concern to the Dominican Journalists Colegio, but the government has taken no action against the press. The May 1994 disappearance of columnist Narciso Pinales González (aka Narcisazo) after harshly criticizing then president Joaquín Balaguer and senior military officers remains unsolved. The case is now in the hands of an investigating magistrate, but the investigation has stalled. The proposed amendment to the National Press Act was vetoed after passing the Senate, but was reintroduced in late February by the House of Representatives. From there it will have to pass the Senate again. The proposed amendment marks a substantial improvement over the existing legislation, which dates from 1962. For example, it guarantees free access to news sources with legal penalties, establishes that primary legal liability for publication does not rest with the editor of the media outlet, and incorporates the ten principles of the Declaration of Chapultepec into its preamble.