Head of state and government: Leonel Fernández Reyna
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 9.9 million
Life expectancy: 71.5 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 37/28 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 87 per cent

The number of alleged unlawful killings by security forces increased in 2008. Haitians and Dominico-Haitians faced serious discrimination. High levels of domestic violence were reported.

Right to health – HIV/AIDS

In July the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS stated that the epidemic had stabilized in the Dominican Republic. However, it warned that the country was over-dependent on external funding for its response to HIV/AIDS. It stated that HIV incidence remained high among residents of bateyes (communities of sugar plantation workers). National civil society organizations continued to denounce discrimination in the workplace against people living with HIV/AIDS.

Police and security forces

There were widespread concerns about the escalating level of violent crime and the government's inability to combat it effectively.

According to figures from the General Prosecutor's Office, 298 people were killed by the police between January and August, an increase of 72 per cent over the same period in 2007. There were concerns that a number of these fatal shootings may have been unlawful. In October the Dominican Interior and Police Minister described the levels of fatal police shootings as "alarming" and called for corrupt officers to be expelled from the force and for improved police training. With no independent body to investigate allegations of abuse by members of the security forces, impunity remained the norm.

  • On 12 February, five criminal suspects were killed by a police patrol during an "exchange of fire" in the district of Ensanche Isabelita, in eastern Santo Domingo. Eyewitnesses claimed that two of the individuals had surrendered before they were shot by police.

Discrimination – Haitian migrants and Dominico-Haitians

Reports by the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, the Special Rapporteur on racism, the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, all highlighted the discrimination faced by Haitian migrants and Dominico-Haitians.

Access to nationality

A 2007 directive issued by the Dominican Electoral Board continued to be used as a pretext to seize the identity documents of thousands of black Dominicans. The directive instructs government officials to examine closely any identity documents presented for renewal or registration, on the grounds that such documents had been wrongly issued in the past. In May, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the Dominican authorities to take immediate steps to issue all Dominicans of Haitian descent with identity documents.


According to local human rights organizations, more than 6,000 Haitians were deported in the first six months of the year. Many of these deportations were arbitrary and did not comply with international human rights standards. There were reports of ill-treatment of deportees by migration officials and members of the security forces.


There were continued reports of mob attacks against Haitian migrants in apparent reprisal for killings of Dominican citizens attributed to Haitians.

  • A Dominico-Haitian and a Haitian national were murdered by a mob on 27 October in the south-western municipality of Neiba. The attack followed the murder of a Dominican, allegedly by a Haitian. The local authorities reportedly intervened swiftly and an investigation was under way at the end of the year.

Trafficking in human beings

Human rights organizations working on both sides of the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti reported that during the first six months of 2008, 1,353 Haitian children were trafficked into the Dominican Republic where they were exploited for agricultural and domestic work, begging, street-vending and prostitution.

Freedom of expression – journalists

Media workers were harassed and intimidated. In October the Dominican National Union of Press Workers announced that between January and September, 32 journalists had been physically attacked or threatened and that 21 others had been subjected to spurious judicial proceedings because of their work.

  • On 7 August Normando García, a cameraman and producer with the local television station Teleunión, was shot dead in Santiago. Prior to his killing, his car had been set on fire and he had received anonymous threats following the broadcast of various programmes investigating crime in the local area.

Violence against women and girls

Violence against women continued to be widespread. In July the Public Prosecutor of Santo Domingo Province called the level of domestic violence in the Dominican Republic "alarming". According to official statistics, between January and August, 133 women were killed by their current or former partners. A report entitled Critical Path of Dominican Women Survivors of Gender Violence, issued in June jointly by several Dominican women's rights NGOs, found that the great majority of survivors of gender-based violence were re-victimized by the justice system. It found that a high percentage of victims abandon the legal process and highlighted the lack of judicial personnel trained to deal with the issue.

Amnesty International reports

  • Challenging discrimination in the Dominican Republic – Protecting and promoting the rights of Haitian migrant workers and their descendants (9 November 2008)

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