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Daily News - 5 March 2002

Focus on the Human Rights Practices Report
News headlines today focused on the publication of the US State Departmentís Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2001. The report was released yesterday by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. It focuses on police brutality and illegal arrests among other issues and is part of a broad document on human rights issues around the world. 
The report states there were 250 deliberate (extrajudicial) killings by police in 2001. On the day of the reportís release, new Police Chief Jaime Marte Martinez sent a note to the media stating that while the annual report did not focus on his administration (he has only a month and a half on the job), he wanted to reaffirm his commitment to the defense of human dignity and the physical safety of citizens and the men under his charge.
Diario Libre highlights that during Marte Martinezís term so far, only four Dominicans have died in deliberate police shootings, which are believed to have been used in the past to eliminate known dangerous delinquents. During the administration of former police chief Pedro de Jesus Candelier, the average was 20 killings during a similar period of time.
To read the report on the Dominican Republic, see http://www.state.gov/ 

Some NGOs will not be taxed
and 1.5% on gross revenues. The decision was justified on grounds that these organizations are often used by their principals to evade taxes. NGOs, with their supposed non-profit status, had previously been exempt from paying taxes.
Meanwhile, the DGII reports that tax collections were up in February compared to what was budgeted. The government had estimated collections last month would be RD$2.5 billion, and they actually reached RD$2.6 billion.

Documenting Haitian nationals
The Haitian government will be installing mobile centers across the DR to issue identification documents to Haitians living here. One of the main problems facing Haitians in the DR is that they arrive without any identification whatsoever. Most Haitians in Haiti do not seek legal documentation, primarily due to their distrust of the government and because of their extreme poverty.
Over the years, when these undocumented people have immigrated to the DR, confusion over their identity and legal status has brought major problems to the DR, especially when they give birth here, register their children in school, or at the childís graduation from school at any level. 
The Dominican government had hoped the Haitian government would step up its efforts to issue IDs to its citizens in Haiti. But the Haitian government is making the move in the DR. 
The Haitian embassy is spreading the word among Haitian communities in the DR that all will be able to get free documents that identify them as Haitian citizens, regardless of how long they have been living here or how they came to the DR. El Caribe reports that Haitian diplomats have said, nevertheless, that they will not issue citizenship documents to the minor children of Haitians who live in the DR. The decision of the Haitian government comes as a response to an agreement signed on 16 January during the visit of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide to the DR. 
The Embassy of Haiti announced the process began last Saturday in Santo Domingo, Dajabon and Barahona. The program could last three or four years with the goal of issuing identification cards to as many Haitian nationals as possible. 
Consul General Edwin Paraison said that the only requirement to get the legal papers is two witnesses must testify they are Haitian. The Haitian consulate also announced a reduction in the cost of the Haitian passport from US$70 to US$35 and said it could be paid in Dominican pesos.

Ecstasy seizures increase
El Caribe reports that local authorities confiscated twice the amount of Ecstasy in the first two months of this year than in all of 2001. Jacobo Moquete, spokesman for the Direccion Nacional de Control de Drogas (DNCD), the local drug control department, said that in January they confiscated 29,000 pills and in February 36,000 for a total 65,000. This is double what was confiscated in 2001, and half of what was confiscated in 2000. Moquete said that Dutch manufacturers smuggle the drug into the US via the DR.

The National Housing Plan 
Luis Molina Achecar, president of Banco BHD, commented yesterday on the success of the National Housing Plan, an effort to put affordable houses on the market for middle-income buyers. The plan brings together the government with commercial bank financing for builders, and loans and savings organization financing for home purchasers, as reported in El Caribe newspaper. 
The first 5,000 houses in the San Luis area of the Province of Santo Domingo are under construction (of a total of 50,000 planned) with financing from the BHD. 
Speaking on a Teleantillas TV program, Molina said the program is being implemented with a combination of short term loans from commercial banks and long term loans from loans and savings organizations. The government provided the state property on which the houses are going up. 
The plan is part of the internal restructuring of the Instituto Nacional de la Vivienda (INVI), a government housing department. ďThe state does not have to invest a cent,Ē explained Cristobal Valdez, vice president of the BHD real estate department. He explained that the governmentís contribution of the state property makes it possible for them to sell the houses for RD$350,000 and RD$800,000. This is lower than what is available on the market for this type of dwelling. The project is seen as a model of successful cooperation between the government and the private sector.

The battle of the press
Corripio business group launched El Dia today, a free morning newspaper. Itís the fourth free tabloid launched in less than a year, the Corripio groupís response to a new Dominican trend. Free newspapers got their start in full force when Diario Libre was announced last year by the Bancredito-Tricom-Omnimedia group. El Expreso and Ultima Hora followed.
The main newspapers and magazines in the DR are owned by four large business groups:
Corripio: El Dia, Hoy and El Nacional 
Bancredito-Tricom: Diario Libre, Omnimedia magazines
Baninter: Listin Diario, several magazines, El Expreso and Ultima Hora free newspapers. Last year, Baninter shut down the highly-respected El Siglo for lack of advertising revenues after the company acquired the Listin Diario. 
Banco Popular: El Caribe.
The free newspapers are expected to make it more difficult for paid-circulation newspapers like Hoy, El Nacional, and El Caribe to attract and maintain subscribers. The Listin Diario, the newspaper with the largest paid circulation, maintains its leadership in the market attracting the lionís share of the print media advertising budget. 
During the event launching El Dia, its editor, veteran newspaper entrepreneur and journalist, Rafael Molina Morillo highlighted how free newspapers effectively promote culture and educate Dominicans. He said the greatest challenge of the newspaper is to gain credibility. 

Birthday party celebration
Local newspapers focus on last nightís big birthday bash for Minister of the Armed Forces Jose Miguel Soto Jimenez. President Hipolito Mejia and First Lady Rosa Gomez Mejia celebrated with the general at the Armed Forces meeting hall. Social chroniclers report the large hall was decorated with motifs reminiscent of the Major Generalís farm in Constanza. Two giant TV screens were placed so that all areas of the large hall could be viewed at the same time. During the party, ďRecogiendo Limosnas,Ē a merengue that praised Dictator Trujillo, was played and danced to. Diario Libre says the playing of this merengue at the birthday has perplexed members of the foundations that honor the dictatorís victims.
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