Dominican Republic

The press during this period has been subjected to a large number of threats, pressures and intimidations. Actions to interfere with and curtail the work of the press and free access to official sources have increased, although it cannot be said that they are part of a line of action directed by the government, nor come from the head of the judicial branch. The National Press Workers Union (SNTP) has reported 65 cases of various kinds of aggression, among them attacks on and death threats made to journalists, news announcers and media commentators. Among the most notable cases are the following: Commentator, television producer, columnist and lawyer Jordi Veras was the object on June 2 of an attack which he miraculously managed to survive. He was shot several times, one shot causing him to lose sight in his right eye. To date the authorities have not been able to shed any light on the assault. Robinson Cruz González, co-producer of the program “El Gobierno de Boca Chica” (The Government of Boca Chica) broadcast by Teleimagen Canal 13 television in that coastal town, was at death’s door after being shot and seriously wounded by gunmen as he was walking with is wife along Sabana Larga Avenue in the Ozama neighborhood of Santo Domingo. That same day journalist and civil society leader Ramón Ramírez (known as Tito) and television producer Zoila Villa were shot at as they were leaving the TV channel’s building, where they produce a program together with journalist Isaís Peguero Corporán. In August the closure of the weekly Clave and its online version, Clave Digital, gave rise to varying interpretations locally. Although the owners of those media issued a press release in which they said the shutdown was strictly for financial reasons and that they had received no kind of pressure from officials, the fact that the closure coincided with a report by its editor, journalist Fausto Rosario Adames, that he had received a death threat, did not fail to raise concern Television producer Nuria Piera, who hosts an investigative reporting program, aired a piece about threats made to Rosario Adames and to reporters Esteban Rosario and Marino Zapete in separate incidents. Another development that has aroused much expectation is the extent to which a bill to amend Law 6132 on expression and dissemination of thought, as well as a number of laws making up the Communication Code, is likely to have. While a group of renowned lawyers and journalists took part in their drafting, the texts are not known in detail, especially those that would involve broadcast and online media. The newspapers El Caribe and Hoy have editorially asked for a full national debate before the proposed amendment is sent to the legislature. The fear is that, regardless of good intentions, some provisions could be used in the future as a pretext or interpreted to impose subtle or grotesque forms of prior censorship.