Proposed laws threaten freedom of expression
The Inter-American Press Association (SIP) has criticised restrictions on free expression contained in two bills under paliamentary consideration in the Dominician Republic. Vice president of SIP's Press Freedom Commission for the Dominican Republic, Miguel Franjul, made these remarks during SIP's 72nd General Assembly in Mexico City. He also stated that one of the bills contains an article that would undermine a Constitutional Court decision eliminating restrictions on the free exercise of journalism.
The two bills respectively seek to regulate the protection of the rights to privacy, honour, good name and image, and to establish definitions of media responsibilities and professional secrecy. One of the draft bills states that media directors have a "duty of cooperation" with the Public Ministry, which "may request the information needed to identify the authors of publications under their supervision".
Various civil society actors have criticised the initiatives because of their potential to restrict the freedom of expression and affect the uncensored exercise of journalism. The President of the Press and Law Foundation (Fundación Prensa y Derecho), Namphi Rodriguez, warned that a bill which ignored journalists' right to protect their sources and forced media directors to collaborate with law enforcement agencies would be unconstitutional. He also pointed out that the bill does not include enforceable sanctions, given that the legislators incorrectly referred to the criminal code, whereas defamation is currently regulated by the press law.