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IAPA welcomes Inter-American Court's ruling in case of missing journalist

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami, April 3, 2012 - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed satisfaction at yesterday's ruling by the Inter-American Human Rights Court requiring the government of the Dominican Republic to “establish the truth of the events in question” and “punish those responsible” for the forced disappearance 18 years ago of journalist Narciso González Medina.

González Medina, who was a journalist, lawyer, professor at the School of Humanities of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD), and an activist known as “Narcisazo,” was 52 years old when he disappeared on May 26, 1994, while exiting a movie theater in Santo Domingo. Since then, his whereabouts have remained unknown.

Eye-witnesses say that prior to his disappearance, González Medina was “in the custody of state authorities” at the Intelligence Office of the Armed Forces Ministry, the National Police headquarters, and at the Dominican Air Force Intelligence Office. Apparently, he had been beaten and was in poor physical condition while at the latter two agencies, according to a statement issued by the Inter-American Court dated February 27, 2012 and disclosed on April 2.

Former IAPA President Rafael Molina, Editor of the Dominican Republic newspaper El Día, was consulted last year by the Inter-American Court in a series of public hearings on the case. He recalls in written testimony that González Medina's disappearance was believed to have been in reprisal for his public questioning of the results of the May 16, 1994 elections.

The Chair of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, said, “This ruling is a decisive step forward in the search for justice for the hundreds of unpunished crimes against journalists in the Western Hemisphere.”

Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, added, “The IAPA trusts that the government of the Dominican Republic will take due responsibility and comply with the awarding of reparations as stipulated in this ruling.”

While the Court's statement does not make a pronouncement concerning “the alleged violations to the victim's right to freedom of expression,” it requires the government to take numerous actions to redress the crime. Among the requirements, the Court orders a continuation of the investigations to determine the truth of the events and punish those responsible; the payment of indemnity to the victim's family; and the government's engagement in a series of international recognition ceremonies and other measures to highlight González Medina's journalistic, literary, and creative work. The ruling is posted here.

According to IAPA's statistics from 1987 to date, the whereabouts of 21 journalists in the Americas have remained unknown, while 387 journalists have been killed, among them José Agustín Silvestre and Juan Andújar, murdered in the Dominican Republic in 2011 and 2004, respectively. The IAPA has also been following the case of Luis Orlando Martínez, murdered in Santo Domingo in 1975, a crime for which three people are serving time in prison.

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