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Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Dominican Republic

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1997
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Dominican Republic, February 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c564ff28.html [accessed 23 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The media met some resistance from political parties vying in the watershed May 16 presidential election and in a second round of voting in June, scheduled because none of the candidates received an outright majority in the first round. The campaign was widely considered the most reserved and civilized in the Dominican Republic's three decades of democracy. But supporters of the ruling Social Christian Reform Party (PRSC), one of the three principal political parties, assaulted a reporter for the Rahitel television station and her cameraman at a press conference. Journalists for other media outlets reported some minor skirmishes with members of political parties after news organizations endorsed candidates.

The press suffered a significant setback when one of the Dominican Republic's most prestigious journalists was convicted of defaming the head of a telecommunications company. On June 19, a criminal court found Juan Bolivár Díaz guilty of libeling another journalist, Generoso Ledesma, in Electoral Trauma, a book about the Dominican Republic's 1994 general elections. Bolivár received a six-month prison sentence and a fine of approximately US$233,000. Bolivár has appealed the conviction and is awaiting a new trial.

In other developments, the police officer accused of shooting and killing Ultima Hora journalist Juan Carlos Vasquez in June 1995 went on trial for murder.

May 23
Victoria Espinosa, Rahitel, ATTACKED, HARASSED
Rentería Montero, Rahitel, ATTACKED, HARASSED

Espinosa, a reporter with the television station Rahitel, and Montero, her cameraman, were assaulted and their television equipment was destroyed by those attending a press conference called by the ruling Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) on the eve of the presidential elections.

June 19
Juan Bolivar, Teleantillas, LEGAL ACTION

Bolivar, news director of the private television station Teleantillas and one of the most respected journalists in the Dominican Republic, was convicted of defaming Generoso Ledesma, the head of Comunicaciones Ltd., a telecommunications company. The charges stemmed from a paragraph in Bolivar's book Electoral Trauma, in which Bolivar claimed that Ledesma had diverted funds from Comunicaciones Ltd. to the 1994 electoral campaign of President Joaquín Balaguer. Bolivar was sentenced to six months in prison and fined US$233, 000. The sentence specifically stated that he would have to go to prison even if he planned to file an appeal. But the Santo Domingo prosecutor general suspended the sentence, calling it "excessive and hasty." While most trials in the Dominican Republic run for several years, Bolivar's trial was completed in one day. Bolivar has appealed and is awaiting a new trial.

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