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Dominican Republic24 January 2007

Journalist threatened by drug traffickers with being "burned alive"

The anonymous death threats that have been made against Manuel Vega, a journalist and TV producer who has often denounced drug trafficking in the eastern province of Hato Mayor, should be taken seriously by the Dominican authorities, Reporters Without Borders said today, calling for Vega to be given protection that is appropriate to the serious risks he is running

“It is incomprehensible that the government and its relevant departments have not already come to Vega’s aid,” the press freedom organisation said. “Is he being made to pay for alleging that certain officials in Hato Mayor are colluding with drug traffickers? Everyone knows that a journalist who tackles drug trafficking is taking a big risk. Vega’s allegations call for significant measures against organised crime. The threats that have been made against him mean he should get substantial protection.”

The producer of “Atacando,” a programme broadcast by the privately-owned TV station Canal 10-Varo Visión and radio 95.5 FM in Hato Mayor province, Vega has dedicated several of his recent editions to drug trafficking in the region. He reported yesterday that he had been repeatedly threatened in the past week. An anonymous caller told he was “causing problems” and would be “burned alive” it he continued to cover this subject.

Vega said he thought the threats were coming from a Dominican who recently returned home after serving a sentence for drug trafficking in the United States. He accused the authorities of “indifference” and said he did not trust the regional police, which was “contaminated” by drug trafficking, he claimed.

Vega has received the support of the National Union of Press Workers (SNTP), one of the country’s leading media unions, which has called on the government to conduct a “thorough investigation” into the case. Currently being protected by relatives and friends, Vega has said he will continue to work despite the threats.

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