Dominican Republic

Report to the IAPA
March 28, 2020


Several rulings issued by the Constitutional Tribunal (TC) and the Administrative High Tribunal (TSA) during this semester contributed to deactivating the minefield against freedom of expression in two new laws that regulated political parties and this year's electoral processes.

Two rulings of the TC annulled articles of the Electoral Law and the Political Parties Law that set penalties of imprisonment for those that issued negative judgments of candidates. The TSA completely annulled Article 43 of the parties law which included a disposition that exempted radio and television media from dissemination of advertising. It also annulled, via diffuse control of unconstitutionality Articles 43.4 and 44.7 of the 33-18 Law on Political Parties, Groups and Movements, and Articles 14.4 and 15.7 of the Regulation for the Application of Law 33-18 on the holding of simultaneous primaries in 2019.

This Article 44.7 of the law on parties prohibits political advertising messages placed on and broadcast by radio and television media.

Despite those guarantees reporters of various media throughout the country suffered physical attacks and restrictions in coverage of the October primary elections, as well as in the municipal elections of March 15.

Two reporters and a camerman in Neyba and Elias Piña provinces in the southwest of the country, Faustino Reyes Díaz of Listín Diario and Sandy Familia of Telemicro channel, were attacked by militants of the Liberación Dominicana Party (in government) and Revolución Moderno Party (in opposition) during the electoral process. Cameraman Samuel Pichardo, of San Francisco de Macorís, had stones hurled at him by a mob of government sympathizers.

Commentator Marino Zapete had his television program on TeleRadio América, Channel 45, shut down, presumably on pressure from the government. He was then issued with a lawsuit after denouncing that the sister of the Attorney General had benefited unlawfully from 15 billion peso contracts from the Public Works Ministry.

Sued for defamation and abuse a judge refused to accept evidence that the journalist claimed to possess to validate the denunciation. The judge was recused and in his place there was designated another to carry out the case. Access to it was restricted.