Dominican Republic


IAPA Midyear Meeting 2017

Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

March 31 – April 3


The murder of two radio reporters while they were making a live broadcast in a cabin of a privately-owned radio station in January darkened the climate of press freedom.

The attack on the radio station demonstrated the atmosphere of insecurity and lack of respect that journalists are suffering, as in the course of the last six months there were produced other attacks upon them and obstruction of them in covering the news.

The attack took place inside the privately-owned radio station 103.FM in San Pedro de Macorís, to the east of the Dominican capital, when a gunman shot at close range journalists Luis Manuel Medrano and Leo Martínez, killing them instantly, and the station's secretary, who was wounded but survived.

Some hours later the gunman killed himself with a bullet to the head as he found himself surrounded by police officers, according to the report by the legal authorities.

They reported that the attacker was violent and depressed. He felt swindled by the State Sugar Council after selling him a state-owned property that it never delivered. He requested the land, but suspected that it had been transferred to one of the journalists.

It was later established neither of the killed journalists had anything to do with that conflict.

The government appointed a committee to investigate the crime and at the same time clarify the denunciation about the irregular operation of the sale of state-owned land, which led to the dismissal of the director of the State Sugar Council and an in-depth investigation of the operations that this consortium had carried out in recent years.

Extradited from Colombia was Matías Avelino Castro, alleged mastermind of the murder of journalist José Silvestre, committed in La Romana in August 2011 at the hands of drug traffickers.

Convicted of Silvestre's murder and sentenced to prison for 30 years and payment of a $200,000 fine were Elvis Canario de Óleo and Ángel Amed Mañón Gutiérrez, the latter Mateo Avelino's chauffeur.

As a result of multiple conflicts there are currently being aired in various courts lawsuits against journalists accused of defamation and libel brought by businessmen, municipal authorities and members of the public.

One of them was filed by the new mayor of Santiago, the country's second most important city, Abel Martínez, former speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, against television producer Esteban Rosario, who had insinuated illicit use of funds for the mayor's election campaign.

The Dominican Newspapers Society (SDD) began a series of consultations with the Congress's bicameral committee to discuss the scope of the various bills that would regulate communications in the country, following complaints made by the IAPA against two bills, one concerning the right to privacy, honor and good name and the other on expression and news media. Both have been regarded as limiting press freedom.

The SDD is seeking consensus on a communication law that does not harm the practice of journalism.