Dominican Congress Moving in Wrong Direction on Freedom of Expression

A bill is working its way through the legislative branch of the Dominican Republic that will severely restrict freedom of expression — and by extension — press freedom.

According to the InterAmerican Press Association (SIP in Spanish), the proposed bill is a series of amendments to the criminal code  of the DR. One of the changes will make publishing or airing offensive expressions against the President and the Vice President, senators, congressmen, judges, election officials or the attorney general a criminal offense with imprisonment of two to three years and large financial penalties.

Claudio Paolillo, Chair of the SIP Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information said the bill moves libel into the criminal category at a time when the rest of the world is decriminalizing libel.

He added, that if the Dominican Congress continues down this path and just punishing definitely this reform, “set a precedent enormously negative, not only for that country but for the entire region.”

Dominican media are fighting back by pointing out that the proposed changes violate the new Dominican Constitution and Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights. The press association said the legislation is comparable to a government “censorship.”

Ever since the end of the Trujillo and Balaguer dictatorships, the Dominican media have been fiercely defending their right of press freedom. It would be terrible for that country to slide back into the dark days of government controlled media and people afraid to speak out against the nation’s leaders.

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16 Comments

Filed under Censorship, Connections, Freedom of Information, Press Freedom

16 responses to “Dominican Congress Moving in Wrong Direction on Freedom of Expression

  1. Victoria

    The worst part of it, is that the local press is not doing or saying nothing!!!!

  2. WE WILL NEVER BACK DOWN! THEY CAN TRY WHAT THEY WILL ; THEY WILL HAVE TO BUILD NEW JAILS TO FIT ALL OF US!!!

  3. rigoberto polanco

    lo k pasa en este pais es k los funcinario del gobierno son corruto y poreso quieren controlar a todo aquel k diga la vedad pero al pueblo k se una en una sola voz y no permitir k hagan lo k quieran soy dominicano y me dad pena de mi pais k esta en las mano de tantos funcionarios corruto con prueba de k lo son

  4. The local press is not saying anything… people in the the social networks are full time protesting, and tired of the goberment and the press ignoring the people!! What’s worst it’s that EX president Leonel Fernadez it’s about to speak to the country about the situation, and the actual president?? not saying anything!!! the vice-president? not a word!…

    • Anonymous

      oh no, the vice-president IS speaking… thru her husband, the EX president!!!

      • Kubiske

        Is it really that bad?

        I remember back in 2003-2006 when there were some very active journalists and media outlets that stood up to the politicians who tried to control the press. Have the journalists really given up?

        If so, that is very very sad for the Dominican Republic and its people.

  5. That goes for the International press, since the local Dominican press is in the government’s pocket.

  6. Kissy

    If that bill goes through they will have to start building new jails, many more and prepare for what’t to come, because we won’t fighting, This is something that they are doing out of fear, but this time, for the first time in decades we will not let them pay us with circus and bread.

  7. Anonymous

    The local press appears to be ran by the same people governing this poor country. They cant keep educated young professionals from speaking our minds and for trying to defend ourselves from the abuse of this outrage.

  8. Albania Aybar

    I live in Dominican Republic, plenty of local groups are protesting against this and the new huge taxes the government has just approved, but it seems that most of the local press is being paid and pushed by the government to avoid commenting about what’s happening.

    You cannot imagine the level of corruption we are facing; most of the people is ignorant and do not realize the real situation, they are fans of the politicians because they vote for them no matter how bad they have been in the pass; is almost impossible to organize them in order to achieve a better situation.

    The ex president is being accused of a US$ 4,675,000,000 fraud committed by him, various senators, ministers, the ex first lady (actual vice-president) and others. He is going to speak today, but we all now is going to say just bull-shit (sorry about the expression).

    And all this is just a tiny part of the disastrous situation we are living on… the unemployment is the highest in the history, delinquency has increased a lot and the police is implied in most of the reported cases; the living-expenses are really high and there is no control on the prices; and like a bad joke, the government slogan “E’ pa’lante que vamos” (we are walking in the righ way).

  9. Anonymous

    I think the Dominican government has a surprise coming to them, once they realize this is not 1931 or 1991. The DR today has a highly educated middle class, willing to pay their fair share, but are not prepared to turn over so that the political upper class can have their way with them.

  10. Virginia

    We need help!!!, this is against human rights, the United Nations Organization should be on this goverments behind right now!!, the ex-president Leonel Fernandez needs to be investigated for the economical deficit Dominican Republic has, according to him, they went over budget “unexpectedly” by thousands of millions in 2012 alone.

    HELP!!! or we will be the next Haiti!!!

    e

  11. Angela

    The Dominican Republic is on the verge of dictatorship, some will actually say it already has been taken over by the ex-president Leonel Fernandez. He has done so through various changes to the Dominican constitution prior to leaving his presidency to secure his power of the senate and congress, silencing the population with violent threats from the police and the journalist with this horrible bill. He had hidden the accumulating deficit of over 4 billion US dollars from the public until recently. A fact brought out into daylight only due to IMF (International Monetary Fund) refusing to lend out more money until more revenue comes in, thus the deficit was exposed to approve a huge new tax increase bill was required by the government a few days ago. All of this occurring without any official investigation of government spending during Leonel’s years of governing 2008-2012; while under the so called new reign of presidency, Danilo Medina, and the vice-president, Margarita Cedenio, who is co-incidentally Leonel’s wife by the way. Everyone here seems to be asking, “Who is really the current president?”, except of course of the governing political party representatives. Without prompt UN investigation to reveal and prove what is occurring to impose international economic pressure, I don’t know if the dominican public can resolve these issues of their own.

    • Kubiske

      Angela:
      I was really wondering how things would work out with Leonel’s wife as the VP. It does indeed look as if Danilo is just a figurehead — especially after the speech Leonel gave. That should have been one by the president. Not the former president.

      I was in the DR when Leonel returned to the presidency. There were high hopes for him then. And now I am disappointed.

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