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Dominican Republic: Information on whether it would be standard practice for the armed forces to prevent a prominent athlete who was an army recruit but joined voluntarily in 1989, from being discharged upon completion of his military service, and whether extrajudicial measures (jailings, murder, torture) would be taken against army deserters

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 August 1996
Citation / Document Symbol DOM24398.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Dominican Republic: Information on whether it would be standard practice for the armed forces to prevent a prominent athlete who was an army recruit but joined voluntarily in 1989, from being discharged upon completion of his military service, and whether extrajudicial measures (jailings, murder, torture) would be taken against army deserters, 1 August 1996, DOM24398.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad3f24.html [accessed 17 December 2017]
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.

 

The following information was provided in a 19 August 1996 telephone interview with a professor specializing in international migration and the Dominican Republic at the University of Miami's North-South Centre.

The source stated that "the Dominican Republic armed forces are known to play by their own rules." The source reported that a case in which an officer refuses to discharge an athlete from military duty at the end of his service "is within the realm of possibility given the frequent arbitrary use of authority within and by armed forces personnel." The source mentioned that weak social and political institutions undermine respect for the rule of law in almost all sectors of Dominican society. This phenomenon "can also be found in the armed forces, where the use of power and authority by an officer sometimes depends less on the objective analysis of a situation than on his 'mood of the day'." As an example of arbitrary use of authority the source reported that civilian prisoners ordered released by the Supreme Court were subsequently not released by the police and remained in jail either because the order was not communicated to the jail authorities and police or was ignored. It is also a common practice for someone who knows either a politician or a high-ranking military officer to carry a letter from that person to show to the police or armed forces to avoid hassles if questioned. The source did not have any information on the the consequences of military desertion in Dominican Republic.

According to a survey on military service released by the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors (NISBCO), a Washington-based organization dedicated to studying the links between military service and human rights, military service is obligatory in the Dominican Republic, conscientious objection is prohibited and alternative service does not exist (1996, n.p.).

The following information was obtained in a 20 August 1996 telephone interview with a professor of political science at the Washington-based Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS) and U.S. War College, who has specialized in the Dominican Republic for the last 30 years and has written extensively on the country. The professor stated that it is not uncommon for the Army to try to keep a prominent athlete from leaving the force, either through privileges or veiled threats. The professor corroborated the information that the armed forces are not immune to officers' use of informal rules and procedures, which are embedded in the personalismo (partiality or personal preference) system and attitude.

The professor also mentioned that the return of a prominent athlete to the Dominican Republic after an unjustified absence "is not likely to put his life in danger." The professor added that "the person could certainly be blacklisted for possible employment and not be welcomed by the Armed Forces since its absence could be interpreted as a leave without pay, an offence under the military law, but it is highly improbable that actions against his life or personal security would be conducted at that point in time." The professor, who recently returned from a field investigation in the Dominican Republic during the June 1996 presidential election, told the DIRB that "many years ago, at the peak of Balaguer's power, the athlete's security could have been very compromised but not anymore."

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted for this Response to Information Request.

References

Professor specializing in international migration and the Dominican Republic. University of Miami, North-South Centre. 19 August 1996. Telephone interview.

National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors (NISBCO). 1996. "Military Service, Alternative Social Service, and Conscientious Objection in the Americas: A Brief Survey of Selected Countries." Washington, DC.

Professor of political science specializing on Dominican Republic. Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS), Washington, DC. 20 August 1996. Telephone interview.

         Additional Sources Consulted

Amnesty International Report. 1990-1996.

Amnesty International. Urgent Action. 1992-1996.

Centroamerica [Minneapolis]. 1994-1996.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. 1994, 1995.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports. 1991-1996.

Human Rights Watch World Report. 1990-1996.

Keesing's Record of World Events [Cambridge]. 1990-1996.

Latinamerica Press [Lima]. 1990-1996.

Latin American Regional Reports: Caribbean and Central America Report [London]. 1990-1996.

Latin American Weekly Report [London]. 1992-1996.

Material from the Indexed Media Review (IMR) or country files containing articles and reports from diverse sources (primarily dailies and periodicals) from the Weekly Media Review.

Mesoamerica [San Jose]. 1994-1996.

Oral sources.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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