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Dominican Republic journalist assaulted after report on business owner

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA, Nov 8, 2012 - The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemned the physical attack on a Dominican Republic journalist at the hands of a business owner whose activities the journalist had recently criticised.

According to local media, Manuel Guillermo Mejía, the director of broadcaster Peravia Noticias, had reported that businesses belonging to Ramón de los Santos were blocking sidewalks in the southern city of Baní, apparently provoking this past Sunday's assault.

In a statement released yesterday, the Dominican Journalists Union (CDP, according to its Spanish acronym) denounced the incident as “an attack on the journalistic profession in the Dominican Republic.” The CDP is supporting a civil suit that Mejía announced Tuesday against de los Santos, who is also an attorney.

IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said, “IPI joins the CDP in expressing serious concern over the attack on Manuel Guillermo Mejía, which appears to have been motivated by his reporting work. We urge the Dominican Republic justice system to ensure that attacks on journalists, which threaten a society's right to information, do not go unpunished.”

IPI visited the Dominican Republic in June to lobby for the repeal of the country's criminal defamation laws, which have been used to sentenced two journalists to prison this year. Last month, IPI issued a report highlighting Dominican Republic government commitments to revisit the law, but also noted other areas of concern, including pressure exerted on independent media by public officials and the blurring of boundaries between politics and journalism.

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