Freedom of Expression

Press Release R17/17

Office of the Special Rapporteur Condemns Killing of Journalists While They Were on the Air in the Dominican Republic and Urges the State to Promptly and Opportunely Investigate and Punish Those Responsible


February 17, 2017

Washington, D.C. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killings of journalist Luis Manuel Medina and director and radio producer Leónidas Martínez, known as Leo Martínez, which took place on February 14 in San Pedro de Macorís in the Dominican Republic. According to the available information, the journalists were attacked by an unknown individual who entered the radio station and opened fire when journalist Medina was on the air with his morning program ‘Milenio Caliente’; the secretary, Dayana García, was also wounded.

The journalists worked at radio station FM 103.5 in Macorís. According to the available information, journalist Luis Manuel Medina had recently denounced pollution of the Mallén Lake.

For the Office of the Special Rapporteur, it is of fundamental importance that the Dominican State investigate these crimes, which affect all of Dominican society, fully, effectively and impartially and clarify their motives as well as judicially determine the relationship that they may have with journalistic activity and freedom of expression. The authorities must not discard the practice of journalism as a motive for the killings and/or aggression before the investigation is completed.

Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR states that: "The murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation."

As repeatedly expressed by the Office of the Special Rapporteur, acts of violence and intimidation against journalists, particularly murders and attacks on physical integrity, limit freedom of expression and have an intimidating effect on the flow of information. When such crimes remain in impunity, this can foster repetition of similar acts of violence and lead to the silencing and self-censorship of journalists.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the IACHR to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.