Dominican Republic


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Dominican Republic Human Rights

  • In 2014, the number of killings by police in the Dominican Republic rose again.
  • Most people of Haitian descent remained stateless following a September 2013 judgment by the Constitutional Court.
  • Violence against women and girls remained widespread. Parliament failed to adopt legislation that could have advanced the protection of the rights of women and girls. 

In September 2013, the Constitutional Court issued a widely criticized judgment (TC 0168-13) which had the effect of retroactively and arbitrarily depriving Dominicans of foreign descent born between 1929 and 2010 of their Dominican nationality; the vast majority of those affected were of Haitian descent. This sparked an outcry at national and international levels, including by the Haitian authorities. As a consequence, the Dominican Republic and Haiti held a number of high-level bi-national meetings to discuss several issues of common interest, including migration and nationality.

As President Obama traveled to meet heads of states in Panama for the Summit of the Americas in April 2015 to discuss “Prosperity with Equity” for the Americas, Members of the US House of Representatives urged the President to call on President Medina of the Dominican Republic to restore nationality to all Dominicans of Haitian descent born in Dominican territory, and Amnesty International encouraged Heads of State present at the Summit to guarantee the protection of human rights (PDF)

The first Human Rights Ombudsman was appointed in May 2013, 12 years after the institution was established by law. However, a number of human rights organizations filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of the appointment. A ruling was pending at the end of 2014. The Ombudsman dealt with a number of cases, but failed to carry out a public information campaign about her Office’s role.

In June, the UN Human Rights Council examined the Dominican Republic’s human rights record under the Universal Periodic Review.

Police and Security Forces

The police continued to kill large numbers of people, often in circumstances suggesting that the killings may have been unlawful. Between January and June, the number of killings increased by 13% compared with the same period in 2013. Allegations of torture and other ill-treatment by the police continued to be reported.

Although the Dominican Republic adopted the UPR recommendations aimed at expediting a comprehensive reform of the police, the adoption of a law reforming the police was not finalized. The National Security Plan, which was formally launched in March 2013, was not made public and there were no progress reports on its implementation.

Impunity

Many police officers alleged to have committed abuses were not brought to justice despite compelling evidence. The authorities failed to investigate the disappearance of three men – Gabriel Sandi Alistar, Juan Almonte Herrera and Randy Vizcaíno González – who were last seen in police custody in July 2009, September 2009 and December 2013 respectively.

The Office of the Prosecutor General reopened the investigation into the disappearance of Narciso González following a 2012 ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights establishing the responsibility of the state. However, no significant progress had been made by the end of 2014.

Discrimination – Dominico-Haitians

A law introduced into Parliament by the President in response to the debate sparked by Constitutional judgment TC 0168-13 was adopted in May 2014 (Law 169/14). However, the law failed to provide for Dominican nationality to be automatically restored to those who had it under the domestic legal system in force between 1929 and 2010. In particular, the law established that those who had been registered at some point in the Dominican civil registry (group A) could access Dominican nationality after undergoing a process of regularization by the Central Electoral Board. However, the law obliges those who were never registered (group B) to undergo a lengthy process that requires them to register as foreigners, participate in the National Regularization Plan for Foreigners with Irregular Migration Status and then apply for naturalization two years later. Poor implementation of the law meant that only a minority of those belonging to group A were able to have their Dominican nationality recognized and only a few of those in group B were able to be registered. As a consequence, thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent remained stateless and continued to be prevented from exercising their human rights. In October, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found that judgment TC 0168-13 and part of Law 169-14 violated the American Convention on Human Rights.

In November, the Constitutional Court issued a judgment declaring the state’s acceptance of the jurisdiction of the Inter- American Court of Human Rights invalid.

The Dominican authorities rejected all the recommendations to guarantee the right to a nationality and to adopt measures to identify, prevent and reduce statelessness. MIGRANTS’ RIGHTS In December 2013, the government launched the National Regularization Plan for Foreigners with Irregular Migration Status. Following a first preparatory phase, the second phase of the plan started on 1 June 2014, giving migrants 12 months to apply for regularization. By 30 September only 200 out of the 68,814 people who applied had been regularized. According to migrants’ rights organizations, the small number was due to migrants facing difficulties in gathering the required, and costly, documentation and to the inadequate processing of applications by public officials, especially in the initial stages of the process.

The decree launching the National Regularization Plan banned the deportation of migrants who had applied for regularization. However, despite this, Dominican human rights organizations continued to report arbitrary mass repatriations throughout the year.

Violence Against Women and Girls

In the first six months of 2014, the number of gender-based killings increased by 53% compared with the same period in 2013. The Office of the Prosecutor General reported a substantive increase in the number of convictions in cases of gender-based violence and in July adopted a protocol for the investigation of gender-based killings. Women’s rights groups continued to criticize the lack of coordination among relevant national institutions, the inadequacy of the budget allocated to preventing and punishing gender-based violence, and the failure to implement the agreed protocols for the provision of care to victims of gender-based violence. Parliament had yet to adopt a comprehensive law to prevent and address violence against women which had been approved by the Senate in 2012.

Sexual and Reproductive Rights

In September, the Lower Chamber started considering a draft law on sexual and reproductive health, which had been drafted with the participation of women’s rights groups. Following a veto by the President of the Republic on the proposed reform of the Criminal Code, which maintained full criminalization of abortion, on 16 December the Congress adopted amendments decriminalizing abortions where pregnancy posed a risk to the life of a pregnant woman or girl, in cases where the fetus would be unable to survive outside the womb, and in cases where the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. The reform of the Criminal Amnesty International Code was enacted on 19 December and is supposed to enter into force within a year.

Housing Rights – Forced Evictions

Local NGOs continued to report cases of forced evictions and excessive use of force by police in some instances. The latest version of the proposed amendments to the Penal Code criminalized the occupation of private property, sparking concerns that, if adopted, these provisions could be used to legitimize forced evictions. 

Dominican Republic Newsroom



June 13, 2016 • Report

Where are We Going to Live?: Migration and Statelessness in Haiti and the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has unlawfully expelled hundreds of Dominicans to Haiti who have been caught in the middle of a wave of returns and deportations of more than 100,000 people in recent months, Amnesty International said in a new report a year after the Dominican Republic ended a moratorium on deportations on June 18, 2015.

June 13, 2016 • Press Release

Reckless deportations from Dominican Republican leaving thousands in limbo in Haiti

The Dominican Republic has unlawfully expelled hundreds of Dominicans to Haiti who have been caught in the middle of a wave of returns and deportations of more than 100,000 people in recent months, Amnesty International said in a new report a year after the Dominican Republic ended a moratorium on deportations on June 18, 2015.

February 22, 2016 • Press Release

Amnesty International’s Annual State of the World Report Slams Governments, Including the U.S., for Global Assault on Freedoms

On the launch of its 2015 State of the World report, Amnesty International USA urged President Obama to use his last year in office to bring U.S. laws and policies in line with international human rights standards.

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 18, 2016 • Press Release

Your rights in jeopardy, global assault on freedoms, warns Amnesty International

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

December 3, 2015 • Press Release

Dominican Republic takes women’s rights back to 1884

The Dominican Republic has taken a drastic step backwards for women’s human rights as the Constitutional Court struck down reforms to the Penal Code that would have decriminalized abortion in certain cases, Amnesty International warned today.

November 11, 2015 • Press Release

Dominican Republic: Legal maze leaves thousands stateless in nation of ‘ghost citizens’

The Dominican Republic’s bureaucratic legal maze has left thousands of stateless “ghost citizens”, who are unable to work regularly, enroll in high school or even see a doctor, said Amnesty International in a new report today.

July 6, 2015 • Press Release

Amnesty International ends visit to the Dominican Republic: further actions needed to protect Dominicans of foreign descent

Amnesty International carried out a visit in the Dominican Republic from 14 to 27 June 2015, with the aim of assessing the situation of people who were deprived of their Dominican nationality. The organization documented cases of dozens of people whose rights have been neglected or severely affected due to the state’s refusal to provide them with the identity documents they are entitled to.

May 4, 2015 • Press Release

New York State Assembly Should Oppose Discrimination Against Dominicans of Haitian Descent

New York State Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte introduced a resolution today supporting hundreds of thousands of Dominican-born persons rendered stateless in the Dominican Republic because of their ancestry, especially those of Haitian descent.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.