• Sheet of paper Report

Annual Report: Dominican Republic 2011

June 20, 2011

Head of state and government: Leonel Fernández Reyna
Death penalty: abolitionist for ordinary crimes
Population: 10.2 million
Life expectancy: 72.8 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 37/29 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 88.2 per cent

Unlawful killings by police were reported. People of Haitian descent continued to face entrenched discrimination and social exclusion. Violence against women and girls remained widespread.


A new constitution entered into force on 26 January. In April, the Dominican Republic's human rights record was assessed under the UN's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the Dominican authorities undertook to implement 74 of the 79 recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council. The Dominican Republic provided significant support to humanitarian operations in Haiti following the earthquake there in January.

Police and security forces

According to police statistics, 167 people were killed by police officers between January and September. Evidence suggested that many of these killings may have been unlawful.

  • On 27 June, police shot and killed student Abraham Ramos Morel in Santo Domingo. A police motorbike patrol had ordered him to stop his car and then opened fire, even though Abraham Ramos Morel signalled that he would stop further on in a clearer area. Two police officers were on trial at the end of the year.

There were several reports of torture and other ill-treatment during police interrogation.

  • Juan Carlos Santiago was detained by police in August and questioned about the whereabouts of his brother, who was wanted on suspicion of murder. Juan Carlos Santiago reported that he was beaten while held handcuffed during interrogation at the police headquarters in Santo Domingo.

Police and judicial officials failed to establish the whereabouts of Juan Almonte Herrera who was abducted in Santo Domingo on 28 September 2009 by four men identified by eyewitnesses as police officers.

Discrimination – Haitian migrants and Dominico-Haitians

A UN report on human development found that the economic situation of most Haitians living in the Dominican Republic was worse than that of the poorest fifth of the Dominican population. The failure of the government to adequately regulate migration law contributed to the continuing exclusion and vulnerability of Haitian migrants.

Access to nationality

Thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent were refused identity documents on the basis of a directive issued in March 2007 by the Dominican Electoral Board. Without identity documents, Dominico-Haitians were effectively denied other rights, including the rights to education, employment and citizenship.

  • Altagracia Polis' repeated requests for an identity card since 2007 were refused on the grounds that her parents are Haitians. Unable to present valid identity documents, she lost her job and was unable to continue her studies or register the birth of her daughter. Altagracia Polis was born in the Dominican Republic; her brothers, who applied for their documents before 2007, were issued with Dominican identity cards.

During the UPR, the Dominican Republic undertook to adopt comprehensive strategies to combat racism, including specific measures to protect people of Haitian origin, and to protect the rights of migrants. However, the government rejected the recommendation that it adopt measures to ensure that Dominicans of Haitian descent were not denied citizenship or arbitrarily subjected to retroactive cancellation of birth and identity documents.

Migrants' rights – expulsions

In the aftermath of the earthquake which struck Haiti, the Dominican authorities announced a halt to the deportations of irregular Haitian migrants. According to human rights organizations, the deportations were re-activated in July despite calls for them to be halted unless they could be conducted in safety and dignity. In many cases, expulsions appeared to be arbitrary and without the possibility of challenging the decision.

Trafficking in human beings

After the earthquake in Haiti, human rights organizations reported an increase in the number of Haitian children being trafficked into the Dominican Republic.

The authorities announced the creation of a specialized centre in Haina to provide immediate assistance to trafficked children. However, no information was available on the effectiveness of the measures taken by the authorities to dismantle trafficking networks.

Violence against women and girls

According to the General Prosecutor's Office, there was a 20 per cent increase in the number of women killed by their partners or former partners between January and July 2010, compared with the same period in 2009.

Sexual violence remained widespread, with girls being particularly vulnerable.

According to women's organizations, the national health system was largely unable to provide adequate medical and psychological care to victims of gender-based violence. However, protocols for the provision of comprehensive care for survivors of domestic and other gender-based violence against women were adopted by the Ministry of Public Health.

Freedom of expression – journalists

The Dominican National Union of Press Workers reported that at least seven TV channels were forced to temporarily close or their transmission signal was blocked during the electoral campaign as a consequence of political pressures.

The Union also announced in November that scores of journalists and other media workers had been harassed or physically attacked during the year. In most cases perpetrators were not brought to justice.