Listin Diario protests slow investigation into press violations; people say service at the Canodromo has improved

Listin Diario protests that a month after the Transit and Land Transportation Security Agency (Digesett) violent acts against the Ombudsman and Listin Diario and CDN reporters that visited the Canodromo vehicular retention center the country does not know the status of the investigation nor the course of the complaints filed by the victims.

Listin Diario recalls in a story on 11 May 2022 that between noon and one o’clock on 11 April 2022, freedom of the press in the Dominican Republic suffered a major blow. What would have been a normal work day of the press to investigate the denunciations of extortion made by owners of vehicles detained at the El Coco dog racetrack (El Canodromo) turned into a major press aggression. The Listin Diario and TV crew of CDN were violently stripped of their work equipment and the Digesett agents physically beat the journalists and the Ombudsman, Pablo Ulloa. Ulloa had visited the Canodromo to follow up on complaints his office had received of major delays and irregularities in the return of confiscated vehicles.

Officers and members of the Digesett stationed at the Canódromo El Coco violently impeded the work of the press and the inspection of the facility by the Ombudsman. The police officers beat the journalists with batons, golf clubs and fists, which was recorded in videos that flooded the media and social networks.

What followed the general public outrage was the dismissal of Canodromo director, Colonel Ysabelita de los Santos Pérez and then the transfer of all the personnel serving there.

The day after the aggression, Digesett officials returned the equipment to the press, but these found their data had been erased. Listin Diario says this was an act of prior censorship that is inadmissible where freedom of the press is respected.

The director of Digesett, Police General Ramon Antonio Guzman, visited separately the Ombudsman Pablo Ulloa, and the director of Listin Diario, Miguel Franjul to apologize for the acts of officers under his command and promised sanctions for those involved.

As part of the investigation, the Public Prosecutor’s Office sent to the National Institute of Forensic Sciences (Inacif), the cell phone of the Listín Diario, where the videos and photographs of the incident were allegedly deleted, to be submitted to forensic tests.

The authorization for the forensic analysis was made by the coordinating judge of the Courts of Instruction of the National District, Kenya Romero, after the request of the prosecutor Santa Reyes, coordinator of Internal Affairs of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

As reported, Digesett agents who were on duty the day the Ombudsman and his staff went for an inspection of the Vehicle Retention Center (Canódromo) were questioned by the public prosecutors.

The prosecutors also questioned the press that accompanied Ulloa on the day of the incident. These were Listín Diario journalist, Lourdes Aponte, photographer Raúl Asencio, and Víctor Olivo, CDN photojournalist.

Following the incident, a committee gathering governmental entities was created to prepare a plan to solve the irregularities in the retention and return of vehicles in the vehicle retention center, the Canódromo El Coco.

The working group was formed by representatives of the Comptroller General of the Republic, the Ministry of Interior and Police (MIP), the Ombudsman, the National Institute of Transit and Land Transportation (Intrant) and Digesett.

Listin Diario reports on 12 May 2022 that the return of retained vehicles at the Canodromo has been expedited after the incident on 11 April. People interviewed at the center say the procedures have been improved after the change in command at the center.

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Listin Diario
Listin Diario

12 May 2022