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Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Dominican Republic

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 24 May 2012
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Dominican Republic, 24 May 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fbe39412b.html [accessed 16 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Head of state and government: Leonel Antonio Fernández Reyna
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 10.1 million
Life expectancy: 73.4 years
Under-5 mortality: 31.9 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 88.2 per cent

Unlawful killings by police were reported. Many alleged human rights violations committed by the police remained unresolved. People of Haitian descent continued to be denied identity documents. Violence against women and girls remained a major concern.

Background

Several organic laws regulating state institutions were adopted by Congress. Members of the Supreme Court and the new Constitutional Court were appointed at the end of the year. For the 10th consecutive year, Congress failed to appoint a Human Rights Ombudsman.

Police and security forces

According to statistics from the Office of the Prosecutor General, 289 people were killed by the police in 2011, compared with 260 in 2010. Evidence suggested that many of these killings may have been unlawful.

  • Luis Alfredo Domínguez Rodríguez was killed by police on 26 January in Nagua. His friend, Henry Ortiz, who was injured in the same incident, said that he had just stopped his motorbike to give Luis Alfredo Domínguez Rodríguez a lift when four officers in a patrol car approached them and, without issuing a warning, shot him five times. He said an officer then shot Luis Alfredo Domínguez Rodríguez after one of the officers said they did not want a witness to the shooting. Luis Alfredo Domínguez Rodríguez died a few hours later. Henry Ortiz remained hospitalized for 20 days. Three police officers were on trial at the end of the year in connection with the shootings.

Reports of torture during police interrogations and mass arbitrary detentions continued to be received.

  • On 13 October, Pedro Arias Roja was beaten in his house in San Cristobal by five police officers who went to arrest him for illegal possession of a firearm. In the police station, the officers placed a plastic bag over his head and beat him. He filed a complaint, but no effective investigation had been initiated by the authorities by the end of the year.

In several cases, police used unnecessary or excessive force to disperse demonstrators.

  • On 20 October, university student Claudia Espiritu was shot in the leg by the police while she was demonstrating at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo against the newly adopted budget law. At least three other students were shot and injured by the police.

Impunity

Many alleged cases of abuses by the police remained unpunished, despite compelling evidence.

  • The authorities failed to clarify the enforced disappearance of Gabriel Sandi Alistar and Juan Almonte Herrera. The men were last seen in police custody in July and September 2009 respectively and their whereabouts remained unknown at the end of 2011.

Discrimination – Haitian migrants and Dominico-Haitians

A survey carried out by the Jesuit Service for Refugees and Migrants in four rural communities revealed that at least 1,584 people had been denied identity documents by the Dominican Electoral Board, mainly on the basis of a directive issued in March 2007; 96 per cent had been affected between 2005 and 2011 and the vast majority of cases occurred in 2011. Some 72 per cent of those affected were aged between 15 and 34 years. Denial of identity documents had effectively prevented them from pursuing their studies, finding employment or obtaining other official documents.

The impact of the 2007 directive on thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent was discussed in a hearing in October of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Five days before the hearing, the Dominican Electoral Board issued a decision allowing the temporary release of identity documents to descendants of foreign citizens. This temporary release was made pending the conclusion of investigations into claims that identity documents had been wrongly issued prior to 2007. However, according to migrants' rights organizations, the release of documents remained at the discretion of administrative officers, who, in many cases, continued to deny the documents to Dominico-Haitians.

Migrants' rights

In January, following an outbreak of cholera in Haiti, the Dominican authorities intensified mass deportations of Haitian migrants, claiming that the move was necessary to prevent the spread of the disease. In spite of an appeal in June from two UN agencies to suspend all involuntary returns to Haiti on humanitarian grounds, mass deportations continued throughout the year.

  • On 20 September, at 5am, at least 80 Haitian migrants living in Navarrete were deported to Haiti. According to local organizations working with migrants, during the raid some of the migrants were beaten and some children were separated from their parents. The migrants, many of whom had been living in the community for more than 10 years, did not have an opportunity to have their cases individually examined.

Violence against women and girls

According to the Office of the Prosecutor General, 127 women and girls were killed by partners or former partners in 2011, compared with 97 in 2010.

At the end of the year, Congress was examining a draft law on femicide (the killing of women and girls) and considering including this as a specific crime in the Penal Code.

Freedom of expression – journalists

According to the Dominican National Union of Press Workers, 60 journalists and other media workers were harassed or physically attacked between January and August, in many cases by police officers. In August, more than 60 journalists denounced a smear campaign by state officials against independent journalists reporting on corruption and drug trafficking.

  • On 2 August, TV journalist José Silvestre was abducted and killed in La Romana. He had been attacked and threatened earlier in the year, but the authorities had failed to provide protection, despite a call from the National Union of Press Workers that they do so.

Housing rights – forced eviction

According to local NGOs, at least 100 forced evictions were carried out between January and September. In most cases there was a lack of due process or consultation with affected communities. On several occasions, fatalities and gunshot wounds were reported during forced evictions.

  • On 15 October, some 72 families were forcibly evicted from private land in the neighbourhood of Brisas del Este in Santo Domingo Este. According to eyewitnesses, police and soldiers fired buckshot and tear gas into the families' houses to force them out. At the end of the year, dozens of families were still living in a makeshift camp on a nearby street.

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