Dominican Republic

Report to the Midyear Meeting
April, 19-22 2022

The press freedom atmosphere has been clouded in recent weeks due to attacks on journalists by police officers.

Police agents repressed and seized the work equipment of reporters from Listin Diario and several television news programs who accompanied the Ombudsman, Pablo Ulloa. The official was also physically assaulted during an inspection at a site where agents from the Department of Highway Traffic Safety were stopping vehicles involved in traffic violations. Following widespread condemnation, the department ordered an investigation and deplored the events.

Some journalists reported episodes of aggression by civilians or the obstruction of their work - especially during the coverage of corruption trials.

There have been complaints from the media due to the reluctance of public officials or institutions to disclose information of public interest - which is formally requested pursuant to Law 200-04 on Free Access to Information.

Hundreds of requests remain unanswered - exceeding the deadlines set by law - which led the Office of Ethics and Government Integrity to call upon the public entities to honor their obligations and not to incur in the crime of concealment.

The contempt shown by officials and institutions for the law of access stands in contradiction to the statements - in defense of freedom of the press and expression - repeatedly made by President Luis Abinader - who in late October 2020 signed the Chapultepec and Salta Declarations, respectively.

In early April, the Dominican Society of Newspapers (SDD) expressed its concern over the frequency with which people involved in legal proceedings - or their lawyers - have tried to seek judicial requests to withdraw information containing accusations against them that have been settled in court.

The SDD pointed out that a ruling issued in 2020 by the Constitutional Court recognized the right of digital newspapers to maintain on their platforms information related to "newsworthy facts" that are legitimate, truthful or originating from valid sources.