Supreme Court of Justice president announces measures to speed up the judiciary
PRM’s Abinader firm on removing politics from the judicial system
Foreign Minister on DR position in UN Security Council on Iran conflict, US Ambassador is pleased
Navy arrests organizer of many illegal boat trips
Learn about the upcoming deadlines for the municipal election in February
Agriculture Minister on poultry disease outbreak
Hundreds of children abandoned in Dominican hospitals
Policemen accused of killing two in La Romana suspended
Attorney General remarks on Cesar Emilio Peralta
Puerto Rico’s two big recent earthquakes felt in DR
Toros and Licey are ahead in baseball round robin

Supreme Court of Justice president announces measures to speed up the judiciary
The president of the Supreme Court of Justice Luis Henry Molina called on judges to pick up the pace in the Dominican justice system. He said there is a backlog of cases, noting that the Supreme Court has 18,357 cases pending. He said the court will be taking on the oldest cases, many dating back to the first decade of the century.

During his speech, he outlined the strategic plan called Vision 20/24, which aims to meet the challenges of the Judicial Branch and make processes more efficient. Molina Peña called on judges to act vigorously in the face of unjustified delaying tactics. He favored administrative mechanisms and even extended working hours to put an end to the judicial delays.

On occasion of the celebration of the Day of the Judicial Branch on 7 January 2020, Molina also called to reflect on the cases of gender violence. "Equal protection before the law demands special sensitivity to those who are most vulnerable today. In this area. Violence against women in our country is a great shame that should call us to reflection and above all to action," said Molina Peña.

He also said that he would combat inequality in the distribution of cases and seek more efficient management of the Judicial Branch budget. "It is not reasonable that, if our main task is to impart justice, all of our courts have access to only 68% of the budget, while the Judicial Branch Council, whose function is to administer it, receives 32%," he said.

The president of the SCJ highlighted the work of the judges and said that it attests to the honor and excellence of the vast majority of them, noting that today 774 of the 778 judges are career judges.

President Danilo Medina was present for the activity.

PRM’s Abinader firm on removing politics from the judicial system
Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) presidential candidate Luis Abinader proposes strengthening the independence of the public prosecutor’s office and the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) to improve the judicial system. On the occasion of the National Day of the Judiciary, Abinader issued a note with his proposals to strengthen the Dominican justice system.

Abinader favors a constitutional reform to be able to enact changes in the judiciary. He said he will convene the political and social sectors once he is elected President on 16 August 2020. Abinader is leading in the polls.

Abinader says he favors that the Attorney General of the Republic be chosen by the National Council of the Magistracy (CNM) for a six-year term, without the possibility of a second term. He also favors that only career judges preside over the SCJ. This is not the case with the incumbent SCJ president, Luis Henry Molina. Prior to his being elected by the National Council of the Magistracy (CNM) to preside the SCJ, Molina was the head of the Center for Export and Investment (CEI-RD) and the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel).

Abinader trusts that by achieving the independence of the public prosecutor, it will also be possible to remove politics from state prosecution.

He favored removing some of the current powers from the Executive Branch and assigning these to what would be a new Ministry of Justice under his administration. Under this vision, the Ministry of Justice would be responsible for: formulating and implementing the state's criminal policy, supervising the prison system; representing the state in justicial proceedings; acting as the body responsible for legal representation before contentious-administrative courts; supervising the practice of the legal profession; coordinating the public defense service; and representing the state before international and judicial cooperation bodies, among other important functions.

Foreign Minister on DR position in UN Security Council on Iran conflict, US ambassador is pleased
Foreign Minister says the role of the Dominican Republic as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council is to remain vigilant in any situation that does not guarantee peace, such as the present conflict between the United States and Iran.

The official statement highlighted the commitment of the Dominican Republic to peace and international security. Minister Vargas expressed in the statement that he is in constant communication with the country's ambassador to the United Nations to monitor the situation.

Last Friday, Iranian General Qasem Soleimaní was killed by a US missile at the Baghdad airport. After the assassination, Iran warned that there would be strong retaliation against the United States.

On Tuesday, 7 January 2020, when participating in the Judiciary Day celebrations at the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ), US Ambassador Robin Bernstein approved of the Dominican stand. "We congratulate the Dominican Republic for being in the same position as the United States in this situation," Bernstein said as he left Judiciary Day celebrations at the SCJ.

Last week, the Dominican Republic, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mirex), condemned the attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and expressed its solidarity with the United States. "It is imperative to ensure the inviolability of diplomatic premises. We reiterate our commitment to international peace and security," Mirex had said on its Twitter account.

For the occasion, US Ambassador Bernstein also congratulated SCJ president Luis Henry Molina for his efforts to improve and make the Dominican judicial system more efficient. "We also congratulate Judge Luis Henry Molina for his integrity and his mission. I believe that his message about commitment to the judicial system, the workload and the level of speed sought is important for the population seeking justice," she said.

She also valued the work done by the judicial body in cases of gender violence. "As a woman, I want to thank you personally for the actions you have taken in cases of domestic violence and of people in vulnerable conditions,” she said.

Navy arrests organizer of many illegal boat trips
The Navy reported on Tuesday, 7 January, the arrest of the suspected head organizer of clandestine boat trips in the south and the southeast of the Dominican Republic. Feliciano de Jesus is accused of orchestrating a fateful trip with 22 persons on 25 November 2019, when two people died off the coast of San Pedro de Macoris. Both were from Maimón, in the central province of Monseñor Nouel.

De Jesus is accused of charging RD$200,000 to RD$300,000 person for the illegal crossings to Puerto Rico. He was one of the most wanted illegal trip organizers.

The Navy revealed that to evade capture, De Jesus had devised unusual routes and was leaving from points such as Barahona, Azua, Peravia, Santo Domingo and San Pedro de Macoris. He had been brought to justice in 2015 for the same crime. He will be tried in San Pedro de Macoris.

Learn about the upcoming deadlines for the municipal election in February
More than 200,000 candidates are running for 3,849 municipal offices that are up for votes in the 16 February 2020 election. This is the first time that the election will be held separately from the congressional and presidential elections set for 17 May 2020.

Listin Diario reports on the many deadlines that must be met between now and the municipal elections. These include that as of 7 January city governments and the central governments need to abstain from inaugurating public works or carrying out extraordinary social or community support programs. The law establishes these need to stop 40 days before the election.

8 February is the deadline for publishing or disseminating polls. The 10th is the deadline for political parties to deposit at the Central Electoral Board (JCE) their overall budgets for programs to be developed during the year.

As of 12 February, all campaigning or meeting of a political kind become prohibited. As of the early morning of 14 February, all electoral campaigning needs to stop. And, as of 15 February, one day before the election, the sale of alcoholic beverages in the country is restricted, in a symbolic message to the people to take the election seriously.

Agriculture Minister on poultry disease outbreak
Agriculture Minister Osmar Benitez blamed a lack of producer follow-up to the poultry vaccination program as the reason for the outbreak of Newcastle disease virus in areas of the central Cibao region, primarily Espaillat province. He referred to the protocols established through the livestock bureau at the Ministry of Agriculture that have been effective in reducing poultry diseases.

He denied there was an outbreak of Avian influenza. He explained that both diseases are flus that affect the chicken during its development, with loss of appetite and in very extreme cases the death of the chicken.

The Minister said that both diseases have been present in the country for years, but that thanks to the monitoring of vaccination programs, they can be controlled.

Benítez asked producers to strictly adhere to the international vaccination protocol established for chicken production, which starts from the second day of birth, then 14 days, and in some cases 21 days.

In the case of the chickens, Benítez said there are more than 7 million breeders in the country, and that only 20,000 chickens have been lost due to the outbreak. The Association of Egg Producers (Asohuevo), nevertheless, estimated small producer losses at RD$500 million. Around 30% of the 18 million chickens have died of the Newcastle virus, says Ambiórix Cabrera, president of the Moca and Licey al Medio Poultry Producer Association (Approamoli).

Hundreds of children abandoned in Dominican hospitals
In an interview for El Dia newspaper, child abuse specialist Ana García explains that child abandonment is more frequent than most people would imagine. From 2018 to Oct. 31, 2019, an average of 11 children per month are abandoned by their parents.

These children fall under the care of the National Children's Council (Conani). Conani operates seven temporary abandoned children shelters nationwide.

She explained hospitals are the place of choice for the parents to leave their children. Children are also left in churches, bus stops and even caves and cemeteries. She said there 23 cases of abandoned newborns have been registered over the past two years. She explained the psychological trauma of the children who grow up not knowing where they come from or who their relatives are.

Natalia Asmar, head of Conani's Social Programmes and Services, said that efforts are made to locate the parent. If this is not successful, a legal declaration of abandonment needs to be processed through the Children’s Court.

During this time, the child enters Conani's protection system and receives medical check-ups, physiotherapy, schooling, food and psychological therapies. Crisis intervention therapy is applied to children over the age of seven to help them adapt to their new situation.

Conani also deals with the legal process of obtaining a birth certificate, the declaration of state of abandonment, the parental suspension certificate to officially disassociate the child from original family ties, explains Giovanni Hernández, head of the Conani’s Adoption Department. He added that the pre-adoption process can take up to two and a half years, but once completed, the child is placed on the adoption waiting list. He said when a child is voluntarily given to Conani, as established by the Code for the Protection of Children’s Rights, a new family is found in less than four months.

Conani receives between 150 and 160 applications for adoptions each year.

Thirty percent of the applications are from foreigners and 70% are local. Spain is the foreign country from where most requests to adopt comes from.

Policemen accused of killing two in La Romana suspended
The National Police announced on Tuesday, 7 January 2020, that it has suspended and placed at the disposal of the Public Prosecutor's Office one corporal and three policemen with the rank of private for their actions in the case of two alleged men in La Romana. The decision was reached after an investigation carried out by the Internal Affairs Central Agency of the Police.

The men are involved in the case of 25-year old Angel Chanel Consoró Rosado, 25, and 24-year old Eddy Antonio García (a) "La Peseta", 24, who died from multiple gunshot wounds. There are reports that the shots that killed them were fired at them when they were handcuffed. The police had been on the trail of the two accusing these of having carried out several assaults.

The incident occurred last Sunday at kilometer 4 of the La Romana-San Pedro de Macorís road.

Attorney General remarks on Cesar Emilio Peralta
Interviewed during his participation in the National Judiciary Day celebrations at the Supreme Court of Justice, Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez diminished the importance of an interview allegedly given to Dominican journalist Carol Pérez in Colombia by Cesar Emilio Peralta (Cesar The Abuser), under arrest for drug trafficking charges.

Peralta had threatened to use his ties with a government politician to ensure that his spouse, Marisol Franco, is released from preventive custody at the Najayo Women Jail since September 2019.

"Those are assumptions, a journalist who supposedly said so”, said Rodríguez when asked by journalists to comment.

According to testimonies given to Carol Perez, who visited Peralta in the maximum security prison where he is kept, "The Abuser" asked the authorities of the Dominican Republic to release his wife because "she has nothing to do with his business".

Rodríguez did not rule out interrogating Peralta in Colombia. "In an investigative process nothing is ever ruled out, but as you will understand, Article 290 of the Criminal Procedure Code commands us to be reserved and cautious regarding the steps we are going to take so as not to damage absolutely anything," he said.

Puerto Rico’s two big recent earthquakes felt in DR
Geologist Osiris De Leon said Tuesday, 7 January 2020, when speaking on El Gobierno de la Mañana radio talk show, that the two strong earthquakes in Puerto Rico on 6 and 7 January 2020 were caused by the same fault line that destroyed Haiti in 2010 and Azua in 1751.

De Leon explained that in the southern part of Puerto Rico this type of shaking was not expected, because the main faults are in the northern part, near San Juan, Isabela and Hatillo. He explained that residents in the northern areas are always on alert, since this is the location where this type of phenomenon historically has occured.

Puerto Rico is reporting the death of a 73-year old Nelson Martinez in the 4:23am 6.4 magnitude quake on 7 January 2020. He died when a wall collapsed in his home. On Tuesday, Puerto Rico endured another 6.0 earthquake. Puerto Rican authorities say that 29 homes were seriously affected, and some five buildings collapsed.

On Monday, 6 January, the island had already felt a strong 5.8 magnitude earthquake. In addition to these major damages, Puerto Ricans are now undergoing effects of the power grid having been disconnected in the southern part of the island. Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency.

Reports are that the Dominican community in Puerto Rico was less affected because most Dominicans live in the San Juan metropolitan area in the north of the island.

The director of the National Seismology Center, Ramon Delanoy said that it is normal for Dominicans to be concerned after the earthquakes in Puerto Rico. "In the Dominican Republic there is a threat that a similar tremor (to that of Puerto Rico) could occur, and it could be even greater," Delanoy said. Nevertheless, he said that the amount of energy released by the Puerto Rico earthquakes decreases the likelihood of an earthquake in the country.

Toros and Licey are ahead in baseball round robin
The Toros del Este of La Romana and the Tigres del Licey from Santo Domingo have seven wins and four losses to lead the Dominican Winter Professional Baseball Championship. The Aguilas Cibaeñas of Santiago and the Leones del Escogido of Santo Domingo are tied with four wins and seven losses. Round robin games end on 15 January 2020.