Dominican Republic

Some worrisome situations have arisen that, if they were to continue and be successful, could hinder the practice of journalism. One cause for worry was the attempt to introduce into the process of amending the Constitution a “truthful information” clause that could be used to create obstacles, pressure or restrictions on the media, as has happened in other countries. The initiative was dropped after a negative reaction from the media, journalists and various opinion sectors. Alfonso Crisóstomo, a legislator, has proposed amending the Freedom of Public Information Act, despite the wide repudiation to his proposal in the press, the lower house of parliament and party caucuses. Crisóstomo wants access to information in government agencies to be regulated. It is generally agreed that access should continue to be full and prompt, as required in the current text with no restriction or weakening. It is feared that these changes could make it difficult to obtain essential information that society needs about how public funds are managed, which journalists and citizens now can do. Crisóstomo´s proposal would cause a serious retreat in the struggle against corruption because it would guarantee impunity for officials who commit fraudulent acts. The proposal was suggested after some investigative reports showed a lack of transparency and irregularities in various public offices. Another bill that was widely repudiated was sponsored by Senator Amarilis Santana. It would require written and electronic media outlets to provide free educational announcements, which was considered interference in editorial independence. An equally worrisome aspect is the trend among some to be intolerant of the legitimate work of the media in seeking out and publicizing information of general interest without concern that it might affect certain groups. The most recent event, but not the only one, was the beating of the photographer and radio commentator Franklin Guerrero by the bodyguards of an alleged drug dealer in the Palace of Justice. Later people on motorcycles fired shots at his residence. There has been no end of similar incidents. An official news agency called Antena was established. There had been apprehension about it since plans to form it were announced in April. These fears have dissipated, since it has become an additional source of information.