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Freedom House Condemns Defamation Lawsuit Against Dominican Journalists
Freedom House expresses deep concern about a recent defamation lawsuit filed against two Dominican journalists, and urges the country to decriminalize defamation in an effort to better protect free expression.
The lawsuit, filed by the Canadian apparel company Gildan Activewear, targets Robert Vargas and Genris Garcia, the authors of two recent reports that allege Gildan Activewear played a role in accelerating environmental degradation in Guerra, a municipality of Santo Domingo. Vargas is the editor of the website “Ciudad Oriental” and Garcia the editor of the website “Vigilante Informativo.”
The Dominican Republic was rated free in Freedom in the World 2012, and partly free in Freedom of the Press 2012, Freedom House’s annual assessment of the legal, political, and economic environment for journalists. Gildan Activewear’s lawsuit comes at a critical time for press freedom in the Dominican Republic, as the legislature is considering a repressive bill, which would amend the criminal code to introduce hefty fines and jail sentences for journalists who criticize members of government. The environment for journalists is increasingly hostile, as defamation lawsuits are used as sources of political and economic leverage to silence criticism and dissent.
Freedom in the World 2012: Dominican Republic
Freedom of the Press 2012: Dominican Republic