Freedom of the Press 2008 - Dominican Republic

Status: Partly Free
Legal Environment: 7 (of 30)
Political Environment: 19 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 13 (of 30)
Total Score: 39 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)

The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice, but the troubling deterioration in the state of media freedom experienced in 2006 continued this year. In October, the Inter-American Press Association noted that "there is a persistent trend toward intolerance of the critical function of the press."

After many years of impunity, the courts at last began to take action against the murderers of journalists. In April, three men, including a retired Army general, were sentenced for the March 1975 murder of Orlando Martínez, editor of Revista Ahora magazine. In May, the leader of a drug trafficking gang was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the September 2004 murder of Juan Andújar, the Azua correspondent for Listín Diario. In October, the Supreme Court made a landmark ruling ordering the state Transport Reform Office to hand over the documents on the construction of the Santo Domingo Metro demanded by the journalist Huchi Lora. A number of legal experts had doubted the Supreme Court would rule against the government. Although no journalists were killed, the National Union of Press Workers reported that civil, police, and military authorities, criminals and other persons assaulted or threatened more than 40 journalists during the year. Particularly worrying were reports that the police and judicial authorities failed to respond to many of the incidents.

There are eight national daily newspapers and a large number of local publications. The state-owned Radio Television Dominicana operates radio and television services. Private owners operate over 300 AM and FM radio stations and more than 40 television stations, most of them small, regional broadcasters. No government restrictions on internet access were reported in 2007, though the high cost meant that only 23 percent of the population made use of the facility.

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