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Dominican Republic24 May 2005

Repeal of restrictive media decree welcomed

Reporters Without Borders has welcomed the repeal of a decree passed on 7 May 2005 that introduced restrictive measures against the media.

"We are very pleased to see that the promulgation of this law was due to an administrative mistake and not to a desire to damage press freedom," it said.

"The rapid and unconditional repeal of this decree by President Leonel Fernández is a sign that the government of the Dominican Republic has indeed chosen the path of democracy."

President Fernández abolished the governmental decree that he had approved 12 days earlier on 23 May. At the time of the announcement, the government’s judicial advisor, César Pina Toribio, took full responsibility for the administrative errors that led him to present the new law to the head of state.

He however explained his lack of rigour by the fact that he had had "too much confidence in his assistants". He said the document had been through the hands of several of his subordinates after being put forward by the national commission for public performance and radio (CNEPR) and he had restricted himself to simply submitting it to the president.

The 7 May decree, also known as Regulation 301-05, has now been replaced by the former Regulation 824, in force since 25 March 1971.

Regulation 301-05 banned the media from reporting on natural catastrophes without prior agreement of the authorities, under the guise of avoiding public panic.

The decree also penalised "showing lack of respect for authorities and public institutions", but did not set out specific punishments in the case of infringement. It only said that a government commission would have to assess the seriousness of each case.



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