{24 January 2007}

(RSF/IFEX) – The anonymous death threats that have been made against
{{Manuel Vega}}, a journalist and television producer who has often denounced
drug trafficking in the eastern province of Hato Mayor, should be taken
seriously by the Dominican Republic’s authorities, RSF stated on 24
January 2007, calling for Vega to be given protection appropriate to the
serious risks he is facing.

{“It is incomprehensible that the government and its relevant departments
have not already come to Vega’s aid,”} RSF said. {“Is he being made to pay
for alleging that certain officials in Hato Mayor are colluding with drug
traffickers? Everyone knows that a journalist who tackles drug trafficking
is taking a big risk. Vega’s allegations call for significant measures
against organised crime. The threats that have been made against him mean
he should get substantial protection.”}

The producer of “Atacando,” a programme broadcast by the privately-owned
television station Canal 10-Varo Visión and radio 95.5 FM in Hato Mayor
province, Vega has dedicated several of his recent broadcasts to drug
trafficking in the region. He reported on 23 January that he had been
repeatedly threatened during the prior week. An anonymous caller told him
he was “causing problems” and would be “burned alive” it he continued to
cover this subject.

Vega said he thought the threats were coming from a fellow Dominican
Republic citizen who recently returned home after serving a sentence for
drug trafficking in the United States. He accused the authorities of
“indifference” and said he did not trust the regional police, which was
“contaminated” by drug trafficking, he claimed.

Vega has received the support of the National Union of Press Workers
(Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de Prensa, SNTP), one of the country’s
leading media unions, which has called on the government to conduct a
“thorough investigation” into the case. Currently protected by relatives
and friends, Vega has said he will continue to work despite the threats.

For further information, contact Benoît Hervieu at RSF, 5, rue Geoffroy
Marie, Paris 75009, France, tel: +33 1 44 83 84 68, fax: +33 1 45 23 11
51, e-mail: [->ameriques@rsf.org], Internet: [->http://www.rsf.org]