Republica De Plátano al otro veo? Dominican Republic Journalists arrested…

The international press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders says that they are shocked at the heavy-handed arrests of two journalists by drug police during separate operations in the past two weeks, and the arrests of the daughters of a third journalist in one of the incidents, especially as violence against journalists is rare in the Dominican Republic.

In both cases, local prosecutors endorsed the arrests by members of the National Drug Control Organization (DNCD), whose actions were condemned as “anti-journalistic, anti-democratic, anti-citizen and illegal” by Olivo de Leon, the head of the Dominican Journalists’ Union (CDP).

When contacted by Reporters Without Borders, DNCD spokesman Miguel Medina defended the DNCD’s actions.

In the first incident, Gerardo de Jesus Abreu, producer of the “Tiempo Informativo” program on local TV station Valle Vision Canal 10, was arrested while filming a drug raid in the central province of La Vega on 11 June.

The DNCD took his camera and mobile phone, handcuffed him and detained him in his own car while continuing the raid. The prosecutor in charge of the operation, Leonidas Suarez, told him: "You journalists have a nerve, you just spoil other people's work. You need a good beating." De Jesus was eventually released.

The DNCD took his camera and mobile phone, handcuffed him and detained him in his own car while continuing the raid. The prosecutor in charge of the operation, Leonidas Suarez, told him: “You journalists have a nerve, you just spoil other people’s work. You need a good beating.” De Jesus was eventually released.

The DNCD spokesman’s only explanation for the journalist’s arrest was his presence.

In the second incident, DNCD officers led by prosecutor Cindy Burgos accosted and arrested journalist Genry Morel outside the home of well-known radio presenter Ramon Sanchez in Santiago on 14 June. Then they went into Sanchez's home and harassed and arrested his two daughters, Gissel and Saihya Sanchez, who had been filming Morel's arrest.

In the second incident, DNCD officers led by prosecutor Cindy Burgos accosted and arrested journalist Genry Morel outside the home of well-known radio presenter Ramon Sanchez in Santiago on 14 June. Then they went into Sanchez’s home and harassed and arrested his two daughters, Gissel and Saihya Sanchez, who had been filming Morel’s arrest.

The prosecutor subsequently offered to release them in exchange for their promise not to file a complaint against her.

Medina claimed that Morel had refused to show any ID to the police, while the two sisters attacked one of the police officers.

The Dominican Republic is ranked 68th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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