Freedom of Expression

Press Release R05/11






Washington, D.C., February 3, 2011—The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the attack suffered by Dominican journalist Francisco Frías Morel at the hands of alleged police agents on January 28 in the city of Nagua, in the Dominican Republic.


According to the information the Office of the Rapporteur has received, Frías Morel and a group of journalists were covering the funeral of a young man who had reportedly died in a clash with the police, when police agents fired pellets and launched tear gas canisters at the funeral procession. Several pellets wounded the journalist in the face and abdomen. The police commander in Nagua, Coronel Juan Antonio Lora Castro, said the police were not targeting the journalists, but were trying to disperse a crowd he characterized as "unruly."


Frías Morel directs the Cabrera FM radio station, writes a news blog, co-produces a news program on Trébol FM, and is a press adviser for a local senator. According to what the Office of the Special Rapporteur has been told, the journalist had questioned, in various media outlets, the police version of the circumstances in which the young man had died.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the State authorities to investigate the incident diligently and promptly so as to identify the attacker, impose an appropriate punishment, and compensate the victim for damages, in order to bring about justice and keep these types of events from happening again.


Principle 9 of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression establishes the following: "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."