Dominican journalist receives six-month sentence and harsh fine for defamation

http://en.rsf.org - Johnny Alberto Salazar, head of the community radio station Vida FM and the online newspaper vidadominicana.com in Nagua has been sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and fined 1 million pesos (25,600 dollars), on 18 January, for libelling the lawyer Pedro Baldera, chairman of the human rights commission in the northern province of María Trinidad Sánchez.

The journalist plans to appeal once the full verdict has been pronounced on 26 January.

“Whatever the truth of the offending statements, we believe this is a dangerous sentence that is disproportionate in itself and at odds with the American Convention on Human Rights in whose name no one should be jailed for what they say or write,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“Parliament must urgently approve the bill decriminalizing press offences, which has been before it for almost five years.

“We should like to believe that the appeal judge will be able to assess the danger caused by the legal precedent, not only for Johnny Alberto Salazar but also for the whole of the profession in the country.”

The press freedom organization also deplores the refusal of Judge Selma Bonilla to allow the press to attend the hearings leading up to the conviction although the trial took place in public and was in the public interest. We hope this affront to the right to report the news will not occur once again at the appeal.

The lawyer brought the case as a result of Salazar ‘s recent criticisms of the human rights committee, accusing it of protecting criminals and people linked to organized crime.

“This sentence is a black mark for press freedom in the Dominican Republic,” Salazar told Reporters Without Borders.

“Those who opposed us can’t stand the fact that through our radio station and other media outlets that serve the people we put ourselves at the service of the community without answering to any particular political, economic or social sector.”

When the verdict was announced, Nagua residents and civil society representatives got together spontaneously to raise the cash to pay the journalist’s fine.

“The money that the people of Nagua are putting into the case will go towards building social welfare projects for the many needy families in the province because we are certain that this absurd verdict will not be upheld by the superior court,” Salazar said.

 

UPDATE - Journalists head north in solidarity with beleaguered colleague

 The Dominican Journalists Guild (CDP) will head a delegation of its members from the capital and other parts of the country which will travel to Nagua (northeast) today Thursday, to express their solidarity with radio reporter Johnny Alberto Salazar and attend the hearing where the six month prison sentence and one million peso fine will be read.

The measure was announced during a meeting of the CDP, whose leaders and members will accompany Salazar when judge Salma Bonilla hands down the sentence, despite reports that she has banned the press from recording video or taking photos in the hearing.

Several artists will reportedly take part in the activity, among them the revolutionary singer songwriter Ramon Leonardo and Jordano.

CDP president Aurelio Henríquez said Altagracia Salazar and Robert Vargas will head the group leaving from Santo Domingo at 12 noon, and will be joined in Nagua by other journalists from San Francisco de Macorís, Samaná, Las Terrenas, and other northern towns.

Salazar was accused of slander in his hometown.

 

 

Here is the full list of attacks and murders of journalists in the DR from the KNIGHT CENTER at University of Texas

 

 

Read also: Freedom of the Press 2011 in Dominican Republic, Really?

     

This article is sloopy and covering only half the truth. The fact is that English media in the DR often alter or remove content from their websites after pressure from "special interest groups"....... Also See full list of attacks and murders of Dominican journalists!

 

 

 

Read more: Dominican Republic journalists again rail the Government

     

Dominican government officials try everything to cover up their fraud and corruption! - Diaz added that the intimidation of journalists and media will be denounced to international organizations such as the Inter-American Press Society, the UNESCO Press Society, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, among others........

 

 

Dominican Watchdog Note: The government and criminals in the DR are forcing media not to write the truth! There is no question about it, just search our database of articles!

Go back | Date: 26 Jan 2012
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