16 October 2014
In this period a series of attacks, abuses and threats have demonstrated the condition of lack of safety for the practice of journalism and freedom of the press. Three television reporters, Yaniris Sánchez and José Cruz of Telenoticias Channel 11 and Silvino da Silva of Channel 9 National Information Service, were injured by rocks and bottles hurled by a group of Haitians staging a shoot-up with police in the February 27 neighborhood of the Dominican Republic capital. In June three journalists belonging to two teams of Cadena de Noticias television network were beaten and taken to jail during events occurring in the towns of La Vega and Puerto Plata as they were covering drug raids. They were Gerardo de la Cruz, producer of the news program “Tiempo” (Time), Genris Morel, and Aneudis Pimentel, producer of the program “El desahogo del mediodía” (Cheeky Midday) broadcast by Channel 12 in Puerto Plata. The authorities seized their filming equipment. In San Francisco de Macorís, a town in the northeast of the country, television producer and correspondent of the newspaper El Nacional Pedro Fernández escaped with his life from a firearm attempt that smashed the windows of his vehicle in June and was attributed to drug trafficker hitmen. A week before the incident his home was attacked with tear gas bombs by unidentified assailants that left a note threatening him for his constant denunciations of organized crime. In a town next to San Francisco de Macorís another reporter, Elías Almanzar, who runs an independent Web site, was shot at in his home by unidentified people who left notes threatening his life. Meanwhile, several journalists who take part in commentary programs on radio and television have been brought to trial by officials and members of the public who claim having being libeled. Their trials were held in various courts, as in the cases of journalist Marino Zapete, producer of two news programs aired on the news channel SIN and on Teleradio América, and SIN director Alicia Ortega, columnist Juan Taveras Hernández and Rosendo Tavarez. Amid this increasing climate of lack of security the leading newspapers agreed to reactivate the Dominican Newspapers Society to fight for the repeal of laws that penalize the work of journalists. One it is first tasks was to call on the Constitutional Tribunal to rule on the claim of unconstitutionality filed by the editors of three newspapers in February 2013 to repeal Law 6132,which regulates the work of the press, and against several articles of the Penal Code that set prison terms and fines for libel. President Danilo Medina assured a delegation of newspaper executives from Chile, Panama and the Dominican Republic that his government guarantees full respect for freedom of expression. However, Hoy complained in an editorial in early October of a limited flow of government information for the press, noting that “journalists assigned to the seat of the executive branch of government are subject to some bureaucratic rules that make it difficult to interview senior officials there.” The newspaper Diario Libre complained that “an armed mob in the company of bailiff Leyvi Ali Núñez Díaz of the Santo Domingo Appeals Court seized two vehicles from Diario Libre drivers and attempted to take a third while they were doing journalistic work.” The newspaper said that these attacks were in addition to others when several people, some of them armed, went to its offices to carry out an unlawful takeover, the result of a lawsuit filed by commentator Raúl Pérez Peña, known as Bacho.