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IAPA reviews press freedom in Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico
Published on April 10, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has released a number of in-depth reviews of major press freedom developments in the past six months in each of the countries of the Americas at the opening of its midyear meeting held in Barbados from April 4-7.

For the Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands, other than Cuba, which has been reported on separately, the IAPA said as follows:

Dominican Republic

The news media are continuing to wait for the ruling of the Constitutional Court on a lawsuit seeking annulment of several articles of the Penal Code and Law 6132 on Expression and Dissemination of Thought, while regulates the practice of the press, in order to know whether there are to be eliminated those elements that penalize journalism which are still contained in the national legislation.

Last November security agents of the Finance Ministry physically attacked cameramen Expedy Rodríguez and Ceesar Valenzuela of Valverde province, preventing them from covering the closure of casinos.

Late last year it was learned of lawsuits filed by government party legislators against commentators and executives of the radio programs “El Gobierno de la Mañana” (The Morning Govrnment) of radio station Z-101, Juan Taveras Hernández, Willy Rodríguez and Bienvenido Rodríguez and of the digital portal editor Robert Vargas and reporter Julio Benzan. Senator Félix Bautista and Congressman Alfredo Martínez alleged defamation.

Television commentators Juan Bolívar Díaz and Luis Eduardo Lora were victims of a media campaign that accused them of being “traitors to the fatherland” for the position they have taken against a controversial sentence of the Constitutional Court concerning the requirements that undocumented foreigners have to comply with to receive their official residence permits or legal certificate of Dominican nationality.

The accusations were made public by the self-styled National Network for the Defense of Sovereignty and the Sovereign Foundation in formal submissions to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, but to date no judicial action has occurred.

Puerto Rico

There has been a normal climate of press freedom in this period. The most important development has been progress in the program of access by news photographers and their audio and video equipment, and cell phones and tablets, authorized by the Puerto Rico Supreme Court for the coverage and live broadcasting of trials.

A greater opening by the Supreme Court had been sought in July last year by the Association of Journalists, the Ultramarine Press Club, the Associations of New Photographers and the Center for Press Freedom. The Supreme Court then authorized the start of a pilot plan with coverage of civil cases in two courtrooms of the San Juan Court.

Due to this plan on December 4, 2013 it was possible to carry out coverage of the sentencing of the former mayor of the town of Cidra, Ángel Malavé, found guilty on nine charges of lascivious acts against several municipal employees.

On January 15 the Court authorized the live broadcast of a hearing on controversial proposed changes to the system of pensions of the country’s judges.

On February 6 the press had access to the sentencing of real estate broker Pablo Casellas, found guilty by a jury of having murdered his wife, Carmen Paredes.
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