Report to the Midyear Meeting

Panama, Panama

March 6 – 9, 2015

The government has maneuvered to deny journalists access to information of importance to the public.

That is why on December 4, 2014 the Association of Journalists of Puerto Rico (ASPPRO) and the digital publication Sin Comillas sued the Secretary of the Treasury and the Commission on Financial Institutions after fruitless requests for a report from KPMG on the country's tax system, to be used as the basis for a new tax reform being discussed in the legislature.

According to those bringing the suit, the government of Alejandro García Padilla had used an executive order to call for the need for transparency of public documents; nonetheless, that has not been the case with the KPMG report. Government employees justified their denial to release the report alleging that its dissemination would create a climate of "disinformation" and speculation, and that it would interfere with the employees' work, because it would create the "problem" of having to answer questions from the journalists and the media.

On February 3, Judge Aileen Navas Auger of the Court of San Juan gave the Department of the Treasury twenty-four hours to deliver said report to the press, sustaining in her decision that "the State failed to establish the need to keep the document from the public." The order was obeyed.

The Appellate Court dismissed a suit for damages and losses, slander, libel and defamation from Roberto Torres Torres and several companies against four associations of the Electric Energy Authority (AEE) and the media outlets El Nuevo Día, Primera Hora, El Vocero and Noticel. The facts go back to June 24, 2012 when these associations revealed in a press conference an alleged conflict of interest between then Vice President of the Board of Governors of the AEE, José Pérez Canabal, and the suing entities. This news was disseminated by the mentioned outlets, which was what brought about the suit. This had been dismissed in the Lower Court, which found that the plaintiffs could not specify what their allegations of falsehood were as published in the newspapers.

ASPPRO complained to the superintendent of police, José Caldero, about his intervention in a case that involves Ivette Sosa, a news reporter for Telemundo, Channel 2, who said that she had been threatened by Miguel Rosado Carrero, a police colonel. These threats, expressed in a letter from the colonel to the journalist, appeared after Sosa had given follow-up to an alleged case of suicide, which, according to family members of the deceased, was really a murder.