Dominican Republic


69th General Assembly

Denver, Colorado

October 18 – 22, 2013

With great expectation there is awaited the imminent ruling to be issued by the Constitutional Court concerning a petition of unconstitutionality that three newspaper editors have filed for the annulment of several articles of Law 6132 on Expression and Diffusion of Ideas and of the Penal Code that set prison terms in cases of defamation and libel. The Constitutional Court began a hearing in June to take up the petition made by the editors of El Caribe, El Día and Listín Diario jointly with the Press and Law Foundation against 11 articles of Law 6132 and five articles of the Penal Code. The ruling was learned this month. Press leaders appeared before a special committee of the Chamber of Deputies to speak about three different draft legislative bills that set out views on making so-called word crimes no longer criminal offenses and the cascade effect that would imply the main authorship of the offense of defamation would be the editor of the media outlet in which is published a text considered to be damaging to a person’s good name or dignity. These bills have not yet been debated in a plenary session of the houses of Congress. Several cases of physical attacks on reporters committed by soldiers and National Police officers were reported in this period. One of them was an April 11 attack on cameraman Marcelo Contreras in María Trinidad Sánchez province in the northeast of the country. A police colonel stopped him at gunpoint, grabbed his camera, handcuffed him and showed him off in the streets tied to a vehicle, then unlawfully locked him in jail for several hours, all in reprisal for his having reported on a violent eviction that the police carried out in that town. Police officers assigned to the new model prison beat up Noticias SIN television cameraman Rafael Silverio as he was covering a trial in a Santo Domingo court. A policeman who had taken pert in the incident was suspended and several days later punished on the orders of the Attorney General’s Office. In May Rafael Lara, a reporter with the same channel, was beaten and had his camera seized by a mixed Armed Forces patrol that was carrying out the eviction of families from some state-owned lands in the southern province of San Cristóbal. In June a group of journalists formally complained of the existence of a plot to murder journalist Fausto Rosario, editor of the online newspaper, which led Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina to call him into his office to hear his testimony. Rosario communicated his denunciation to the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion, Frank La Rue, who called on the government for explanations. In response the executive branch of government’s legal consultant, César Pina Toribio, declared that from the government “no legal actions have been promoted that imply persecution of limitations upon journalists and those that emit opinions” and said that Rosario had been given special protection. Journalist Juan Bolívar Díaz, director of the news program “Uno+Uno” broadcast by Teleantillas television, was the object of a demonstration of support and solidarity by various sectors of society concerned at the existence of a campaign to discredit him, defame him and silence him.