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HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE EXAMINES THE REPORT OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

18 October 2017

The Human Rights Committee this morning completed its consideration of the sixth periodic report of the Dominican Republic on its implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Presenting the report, Rhadys Abreu De Polanco, Director General for Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, said that the constitutional reform of 26 January 2010 had expressly entrenched civil and political rights in the constitutional text and Dominican courts applied the provisions of the Covenant in their processes and decisions. In June 2017 the Government had launched a monitoring system for the implementation of recommendations made by human rights bodies. Another novelty was the operation of the so-called “Malala shelters” for victims of trafficking since May 2016. Ms. De Polanco noted that the prohibition of refoulement was at the centre of the country’s refugee system. In recent years, the Government had actively worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration in the area of refugees and forced displacement.

In the ensuing discussion, Experts welcomed the adoption of a law to mitigate the effect of the Supreme Court judgement regarding granting citizenship to persons of Haitian descent, the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, and the ratification of the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the participation of children in armed conflict. At the same time, Experts expressed concern about the Government’s compliance with the principle of non-refoulement, the indefinite detention of migrants, and the protection of undocumented migrants and unaccompanied minors. Other areas of concern included the issuing of birth certificates to children of foreign nationals, access to education and other basic services for undocumented migrants, treatment of prisoners, independence of the judiciary, corruption, specialized care facilities for victims of trafficking, use of force by police, criminalisation of torture, termination of pregnancy and high maternal mortality, and violence against women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.

In her concluding remarks, Ms. De Polanco expressed appreciation for the cordial atmosphere during the dialogue with the Committee. She noted that the Government was working for the people and that it wanted its people to lead decent and dignified lives.

Yuval Shany, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee, said that the dialogue was very constructive and both sides had ample opportunity to exchange views. He highlighted positive advances made by the State party, such as the adoption of the law on persons with disabilities, and the ratification of the second Optional Protocol to the Covenant. Nevertheless, the country faced some challenges, such as immigration, nationality, and the uncertain status of certain groups of undocumented persons.

The delegation of the Dominican Republic consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Women, the Office of the Attorney General, the Central Electoral Commission, and the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations Office at Geneva. The Committee will next meet on Wednesday, 18 October, at 3 p.m. to consider the sixth periodic report of Australia (CCPR/C/AUS/6).

Report

The sixth periodic report of the Dominican Republic can be read here: CCPR/C/DOM/6.

Presentation of the Report

RHADYS ABREU DE POLANCO, Director General for Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, noted that the constitutional reform of 26 January 2010 had expressly entrenched civil and political rights in the constitutional text and had recognized that the country was a member of the international community, open to cooperation and adhering to standards of international law. Dominican courts applied the provisions of the Covenant in their processes and decisions. In 2014 the Ministry of External Relations had elevated its human rights division to the rank of the Directorate General for Human Rights. In June 2017 the Government had launched a monitoring system for international recommendations regarding human rights – SIMORED. The system facilitated the systematization of the international recommendations implemented by the Dominican Republic. In 2015 the first conference on sustainable tourism in the Caribbean and Latin America had been held and had focused on ways to make regional tourism inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.

With respect to discrimination based on sexual orientation, the Government and the country’s constitutional order upheld the principles of respect for the dignity of persons. In that respect, all persons were equal before the law and enjoyed the same protection, liberties and opportunities without any discrimination. Various legal texts explicitly protected lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons from discrimination, namely the integral development of young people without any distinction based on religion, race, ethnicity, political or sexual orientation. In the same manner, the Criminal Code stipulated that all persons were equal before the law. The Government also continued working to implement efforts to eliminate trafficking in persons. The Inter-Ministerial Commission for the Fight against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants was currently working on the National Action Plan on Trafficking in Persons 2017-2020. Since May 2016 the so-called “Malala shelters” had been available to victims of trafficking, where they received full medical, psychological and legal assistance, as well as an opportunity to change their migration status in the country. As for refugees, the Government remained committed to its obligations under the Refugee Convention of 1951 and the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1967. The prohibition of refoulement was at the centre of the country’s refugee system. In recent years, the Government had actively worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration in the area of refugees and forced displacement.

With respect to the use of excessive force by police officers, the law No. 590-16 stipulated that the use of force by police had to be legal, legitimate and proportionate, and that it could not endanger a person’s life. The national police was subject to inspections which investigated cases of police brutality. The Strategic Institutional Plan for the National Police 2016-2020 envisaged a capacity-building programme for police officers, and some 1,700 officers had attended so far. As for the protection of children, the Government was of the view that corporal punishment constituted a grave violation of the fundamental rights and physical integrity of minors. The Government had, therefore, elaborated a plan for the elimination of violence against girls, boys and adolescents. The Government had also taken measures to ensure the respect of persons deprived of liberty. Questions by Committee Experts

Experts expressed concern about the inability of non-governmental organizations from the Dominican Republic to take part in the dialogue with the Committee. They welcomed a number of efforts made by the Dominican Republic, namely the law to mitigate the effect of the court judgement to grant citizenship to persons of Haitian descent, the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, and the ratification of the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the participation of children in armed conflict.

Experts also welcomed the fact that the Covenant was directly applicable in domestic courts. What efforts were being made to increase awareness about the Covenant among judges, lawyers and the general public? What mechanism was in place to raise awareness about the Optional Protocol to the Covenant?

Experts appreciated the way in which the Government incorporated the views of civil society in the preparation of the report. Was there a process to engage with them in the follow-up process? Had there been any efforts to comply with the decision on the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights?

As for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, there were continuous reports of attacks on them, including police harassment and arbitrary arrests. Was there any general anti-discrimination law that specifically protected individuals based on their gender identity and sexual orientation? Did the law equally recognize the cohabiting of same-sex couples? What was the status of the draft general law on equality and non-discrimination?

Was there any disaggregated data on complaints, investigations, prosecutions, penalties and reparations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex victims of violence? It appeared that currently there were no criminal laws that specifically criminalized hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. What was the planned future of the bill on the new Penal Code that would make murder of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons an aggravating circumstance?

Experts also raised concerns about forced labour in the sugar cane industry. How many labour inspections in the sugar industry were conducted annually and involving how many workers? Were those inspections announced?

As for child labour, according to UNICEF, in 2014 there were at least 12.8 per cent of children between five and 17 years who were victims of child labour. Could the State party provide more information on that? How did the Government investigate child labour in domestic work? What efforts had been taken to effectively protect the right to freedom of association for workers?

With respect to sexual and reproductive health and rights, information was received that only one third of children received sexual education. The rate of maternal deaths seemed too high for the country of such a level of development. What was the reason behind this? Another concern was the total ban on the termination of pregnancy. Would a change require constitutional changes?

As for police brutality, what were the conditions under which police could use deadly force? Was torture criminalized? What were the mechanisms for the investigation of allegations of use of force by police officers? What was the independent body that oversaw that process?

With respect to Dominicans of Haitian origin, less than one third of them had been able to reclaim citizenship, leaving 70 per cent with uncertain legal status. Accordingly, they could not access basic services, such as school enrolment. What steps had the Government taken to ensure their equal access to basic services? How did the Government ensure that refugees and asylum seekers were aware of the 15-day deadline to apply for asylum?

Speaking of employment quotas for persons with disabilities in the public and private sector, only 17 per cent of women with disabilities were economically active, which was half the employment rate of men with disabilities. What specific actions had been taken to address that gender gap in employability? Experts also raised concern about the institutionalisation of persons with disabilities and medical treatment without full consent, such as forced sterilisation.

Experts raised the issue of the effective protection of migrants, especially the protection of migrants of Haitian origin against discrimination and stereotypes. There were many attempts to expel Dominicans of Haitian descent by immigration authorities. The 2014 Migration Law had allowed hospital staff to determine citizenship of new born babies of foreign parents. What safeguards were in place to ensure that parents were not discriminated against on the basis of their colour and nationality?

As for gender equality, what were the results, as well as obstacles, in the implementation of the national gender equality plan? How many female ministers, judges, public prosecutors, ambassadors, mayors and deputy mayors were there in the Dominican Republic?

What challenges remained in the fight against violence against women and domestic violence? What was the number of temporary restriction orders, sentences handed down to perpetrators, and reparations provided to victims? Experts asked the delegation to provide more information about the national information system on gender-based violence.

The Ombudsman’s Office was considered an independent authority with its own budget. What was the accreditation status of the Office? How had the Ombudsman gone about protecting human rights in recent years? How many information and awareness raising campaigns about the Office had been conducted?

As for the elimination of human trafficking, slavery and servitude, what were the results of the campaign to eliminate the sexual exploitation of children? What was the breakdown of the victims of trafficking that had so far used the Malala shelters? What was the number of complaints lodged through the hotline service? Great efforts had been made in terms of judicial investigations and cooperation among different departments. Could the budget for the unit combatting human trafficking be increased? What were the results of the workshop on child pornography?

Replies by the Delegation

RHADYS ABREU DE POLANCO, Director General for Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, explained that the Dominican Republic had recognized the contentious jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The domestic legal order stated that for the Dominican Republic to be committed on an international scale, it had to be ratified by the National Congress. The Government was seeking to find a solution to continue being part of the inter-American system.

As for the case of French citizen Pierre Giry, wanted by the Interpol for drug trafficking, the Dominican authorities had arrested him and had sent him to the United States. With respect to the case of Barbarín Mojica, in-depth inquiries had been carried out. But there was no complaint lodged by the military and there was no investigation of that disappearance. The State had undertaken the required investigations.

The monitoring system for the recommendations of international human rights bodies was an open system and available to civil society. That platform served for uploading recommendations and also contained follow-up to them, Ms. De Polanco explained.

The delegation clarified that the Government was still determining the assessment of the second national gender equality plan. The third plan was currently being prepared in cooperation with civil society. Comprehensive sexual education was being provided to adolescents through a specialised centre, which was open to schools, clubs and foundations, and which provided contraceptives to families.

Steps had been taken to reduce the high maternal mortality rate. The significant drop in maternal mortality was due to the overhaul of the health system. The main reasons for maternal mortality were high blood pressure and haemorrhaging.

In terms of access of women to high-ranking positions, there were four female ministers. There was an emergency hotline for domestic violence. The Ministry of Women provided victims with legal and psychological assistance.

The Attorney General’s Office worked with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, HIV persons and sex workers, and had taken a number of measures to prosecute perpetrators of crimes against them. Comprehensive reparation was provided to victims. The Office had drafted a bill on the comprehensive protection of all vulnerable populations, which would be submitted to the Congress. Together with civil society, the Attorney General’s Office had designed trainings for police officers and State officials, prosecutors and judges in order to increase awareness of the vulnerable populations.

Gender-based violence was a priority for the Attorney General’s Office, which had focused on strengthening prosecution. In the coming years another three units should be established to combat gender-based violence. The Attorney General’s Office was working with community leaders in order to pinpoint gender-based violence. There were shelters for victims of gender-based violence, and the Government was working to set up positive male role models to change the dominant male chauvinist culture in the country.

As for expulsions and deportations, the migration regulations were entrenched in due process. The Directorate General for Migration had interpreters available in seven migration centres. The 15-day deadline was a reasonable timeframe for seeking international protection.

Determining the criteria for the granting of citizenship to migrants was a key issue for the Government. The Government had dealt with some 56,000 cases in order to regularize their status in the country. The new system had not incurred any cost to those persons and the Government had fully taken on its international obligations in that respect. The birth registration of children born to foreign parents was the exclusive task of the Central Electoral Commission, and not of hospital staff. The people in the civil registry had not been stripped of their citizenship, except for 28 persons who had been found providing fraudulent information. The Central Electoral Commission had also recognized the labour rights of the Union of Haitian Workers in the sugar cane industry; they had been able to gain permanent residence documents and their pension rights were recognised. RHADYS ABREU DE POLANCO, Director General for Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, explained that the Ombudsman’s Office had an independent budget and it enjoyed a great deal of respect. The Office was very moderate in its spending, which was why its budget was not paid in total immediately. Civil society played a great role in the Government’s protection of human rights.

The delegation explained that the Government had a fluid and open communication channel with human rights defenders, and it encouraged them to lodge complaints in case of incursions on their rights.

The Government had followed up on the issue of child labour, and it had submitted annual reports on the matter.

Follow-up Questions by Committee Experts

Experts reiterated questions about the application of the Covenant rights and spreading awareness about the Covenant. What specific process had made civil society aware of the preparation of the State party’s report and how many civil society organizations had participated in its drafting?

More information was requested on labour conditions in the sugar cane industry? What legal measures were being taken to strengthen the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons?

As for abortion, what was the status of the pending proposals for reform? Blanket criminalisation of abortion was not consistent with the Covenant. Furthermore, it had been reported that some 10 per cent of maternal deaths resulted from unsafe abortion. Had there been any prosecutions under the current law on abortion?

What was the actual demand for shelter protection and what was the current capacity of shelters? Considering the incidence of child marriage, what measures had been taken to address that problem?

When was it lawful for police to use force? Had torture been criminalised and to what extent was the oversight body independent?

Experts reiterated the issue of gender discrepancy in the employment of persons with disabilities, namely the low employment of women with disabilities.

Replies by the Delegation

RHADYS ABREU DE POLANCO, Director General for Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, explained that there was a quota for the employment of persons with disabilities, which should be implemented in five years. There was a five-per cent quota for the public sector and two per cent for the private sector.

The delegation said there were three shelters to provide support to victims of domestic violence, and there was a programme to build three additional shelters. Shelters had so far hosted 686 women and children. A study had been conducted on child marriage by the Vice President’s office and it had established that child marriage was a recognized problem in the country. The study had established that young girls decided to marry in order to move away from poverty.

Ms. De Polanco explained that the Covenant was part of the Constitution and that lawyers and judges referred to the Covenant. There were specific examples of the Covenant being invoked in domestic courts. Ms. De Polanco added that there was a proposal to draw a special law to cover the grounds for abortion.

The general scope of the anti-discrimination law covered all vulnerable groups, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, persons living with HIV/AIDS, persons with disabilities, migrants, women and children. The Vice President’s office was working on the national agenda for persons with disabilities, and the Central Electoral Commission had made significant efforts to facilitate voting for persons with disabilities.

Torture was criminalised and was a stand-alone crime. The currently discussed Criminal Code would include sentences for torture.

The sugar cane industry in the Dominican Republic had been restructured, which had led to a decrease in child labour in that sector.

The delegation said that women in elected and appointed posts accounted for nine per cent of the senators, 27 per cent of Congress members, and 12 per cent of mayors. Four ministries were headed by women, whereas one fourth of governors were women. Women comprised 23 per cent of the Constitutional Court, 17 per cent of the Supreme Court, and 45 per cent of the judiciary in general. The Government was also working on gender mainstreaming and gender non-discrimination in companies to increase the percentage of women with disabilities.

Second Round of Questions by Experts

Experts raised the issues of deportation and non-refoulement, including due process rights and the right to appeal. What was the legal basis for appeal and what form did it take? How were deportees informed about that right? What were the procedural protections afforded to Haitians? What measures were in place to prevent border pushbacks?

As for indefinite detention, what were the alternatives to detention and when were they deemed insufficient? What was the number of persons in detention awaiting deportation? There were reports of the deportation of unaccompanied minors. With respect to asylum seekers, in 2016 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recognized more than 600 asylum seekers in the country, while the Government only recognized 26. Was specific information available on legal criteria for granting asylum or refugee status? What was the average time for the decision?

How did the law take into consideration the principle of non-refoulement under the Covenant? What protection existed for persons that were not registered? There were procedural barriers to asylum seekers, such as the seven-day time limit on the right to appeal. What training was provided to immigration officers on the rights to asylum and international protection? What efforts had been made to provide identification documents to migrants?

What was the position of the State party on statelessness? There were still 121,000 first-generation stateless persons in the Dominican Republic. In 2014 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights had ruled that the State party had the obligation to grant nationality to avoid statelessness. Had the State party taken any other measures, apart from Law No. 169/14, to restore nationality and protect the rights of stateless persons?

What was the status of persons born between 2007 and 2010 in the Dominican Republic, and whose parents were undocumented foreign nations? What was the criteria for issuing birth certificates? What was the procedure for children born outside hospital? The second most common reason for not registering birth was the cost. What was the cost of birth registration?

Turning to the treatment of prisoners, Experts asked about the number of prisons for men, women and youth in the country, and their capacity. Did the prison staff know about the Mandela Rules? Was there an independent supervisory mechanism in place? What measures had been taken to improve the living conditions in prisons and to put an end to prison overcrowding?

Was there a law prohibiting corporal punishment in all settings?

What measures had been taken to ensure the independence of the judiciary from the political branch? What were the guarantees for the full participation of persons with disabilities in the electoral process? Bribery and corruption seemed to extend to all basic services in the country. Were statistics available on the number of people bringing cases of corruption, and how many cases had been prosecuted? What steps had been taken to address the impunity of public officials for corruption?

Would the State party establish specialized care facilities for children who were victims of trafficking? What type of psychological treatment and resettlement could women victims of sexual trafficking receive?

Did all children have the right to enrol in public schools, even those who lacked documentation? What measures were in place to ensure basic services for stateless persons? Had the State party taken steps to ratify the Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons of 1954 and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness of 1961?

With respect to persons who had been stripped of Dominican nationality and had been rendered stateless by virtue of the Constitutional Court judgment 168/13, there were some people who had not been included in the civil registry made by the Central Electoral Commission. How many of them had received their identification documents? What were the exact conditions for the naturalisation of those persons? When would the procedures be publicised? How could unregistered persons appeal?

When was the police allowed to use different levels of force? Was the oversight mechanism for police a civilian mechanism?

As for freedom of expression, what measures were in place to protect journalists and human rights defenders, especially those of Haitian descent? What steps had been taken to ensure the right to peaceful assembly? To what extent were migrants allowed to exercise freedom of association without putting their jobs in jeopardy?

Replies by the Delegation

The delegation explained that the notion of statelessness was incorrectly used in the Dominican context. Both the Dominican Republic and Haiti were signatories of the Bustamante Code of 1928, which stipulated that the declarations of immigrants were determined by each State party in line with their laws and decrees. The refusal by the Dominican Republic to grant nationality to children of persons in transit would in no way lead to a situation of statelessness. Those born to Haitian parents would have Haitian nationality, as recognised by the Haitian Constitution based on ius sanguinis. The Dominican Republic was the only country in the Caribbean and Latin America that had opened its doors to the Haitian labour force, and it was the only country in the region that had allowed that the Haitian labour force be present in all sectors of the economy. Haitians had been able to seek employment and through their remittances enable their families to survive in the context of some of the worst natural disasters. The Dominican Republic had, thus, set an example for other countries in the region.

The delegation explained that the use of force could only be justified when the lives of agents and those they protected were endangered. Actions needed to be proportionate. There were two schools responsible for providing human rights education to the military and police. The use of force by the military and police was investigated by the Public Prosecution Service. The departments of internal affairs of the military and police verified complaints of alleged offences committed by military and police officers. Administrative sanctions were handed down based on the Organic Law of the Military Forces.

Forced labour was banned in the Dominican Republic. Freedom of association and assembly was guaranteed when it was meant for legal purposes.

As for children of foreigners born between April 2007 and January 2010, it was obligatory to register children regardless of their date of birth. The Government had implemented measures that they be registered. Identification documents were given to foreigners. Some 95 per cent of all children born in the country were born in hospitals. The Central Electoral Commission was also involved in issuing identification documents to imprisoned persons who did not have birth certificates. There were some 60,000 undocumented persons. The other group comprised of 200,000 persons who had received temporary residence permits for five years, and were offered a chance to undergo the naturalisation process.

Deportation was carried out through a declarative act of irregularity. Persons in question were informed about the reasons for deportation, as well as remedies available to them, including the right to appeal. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent all those persons to their respective embassies so that they could seek support. The Immigration Board decided on how to assist their families. Pregnant and breast-feeding women could not be deported. Turning to non-refoulement, the delegation stressed that asylum seekers and those requesting refugee status were not deported. Immigration officers were trained to interview persons who requested refugee status or asylum. The Immigration Directorate had decided to train immigration officers in human rights principles in order to recognize identity documents and verify data.

Unaccompanied minors on the border or inside the country were handed to the competent bodies. Immigration officers had been trained to deal with minors in the process of their referral to relevant institutions, namely the National Directorate for Children and Adolescents. The Dominican Republic treated refugees and asylum seekers separately. Refugees could stay in the country as temporary residents. As of 2016, they had been issued travel documents.

Turning to the question about bribes to obtain basic services, the delegation noted that all basic services were free of charge or had a minimal cost. The Government prosecuted those who requested bribes for such services. The selection of judges was done by an inter-sectional body which represented all social stakeholders, and it was made public. Citizens could undertake a review of candidates. The Government had immediately taken relevant steps to address cases of corruption, identifying 14 former ministers and officials involved in the Odebrecht corruption case. The Government was committed to follow-up on all alleged cases of corruption. There were currently 34 cases of corruption charges.

The new prison system promoted the integrity and human rights of prisoners. Prison staff had to be trained in the Mandela Rules and basic human rights issues. The infrastructure offered dignity and all of the services provided to inmates. Sustainability was an important aspect of the new prison system. As for the oversight and monitoring, there were criminal enforcement judges and random unannounced prison visits were conducted.

Follow-up Questions by Experts

Experts asked for further clarification about deportation and the protection of rights in practice. Was it correct that individuals could be deported unless they could prove that they were not in irregular situation?

As for statelessness, Experts observed that it seemed that the treatment of persons deemed in transit, even though they had lived in the Dominican Republic for years, was discriminatory under the Covenant. The main issue of concern for the Committee was the definition of persons “in transit.”

Turning to the process of naturalization, one group of people comprised some 60,000 persons, out of which only 10,000 had been able to receive their identity documents. What measures had been made to facilitate the receipt of their identity documents?

How many persons had been able to naturalize? Was it true that the naturalization process had been deferred? If yes, why? Had a solution been found for those who had not been able to apply for citizenship under Law No. 169/14?

Significant concerns had been raised by civil society and the United Nations about structural discrimination against Haitians and persons of Haitian descent. What had been done to combat that discrimination? What were the criteria to determine whether children were identified as foreign or national in their birth certificates?

Replies by the Delegation

The delegation clarified that the Central Electoral Commission on 30 September 2017 had published a communiqué regarding the information about persons who had been granted citizenship. There was a special regime for persons born on the national territory. A large number of Haitian descendants lacked documents issued by the Haitian Government. Accordingly, many of them could not benefit from the naturalisation plan of the Dominican Republic. Some five million Haitians lacked identity documents, including birth, marriage and death certificates, and could, therefore, be considered stateless in their own country.

The Central Electoral Commission had established a programme for direct assistance to households to ensure that persons with disabilities could exercise their right to vote.

Child labour in the sugar cane industry was virtually impossible. The Ministry of Labour conducted random visits to sites in order to prevent child labour. There were programmes of assistance for women and children who were victims of trafficking, in cooperation with civil society.

As for the freedom of expression of journalists and human rights defenders, the Government had open communication with them and encouraged them to lodge complaints and receive protection when necessary.

The detention of migrants was decided on the basis of background checks. If they had not violated law, they were released from detention.

Concluding Remarks

RHADYS ABREU DE POLANCO, Director General for Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, expressed appreciation for the cordial atmosphere during the dialogue with the Committee. She noted that the Government was working for the people and it wanted its people to lead decent and dignified lives. It looked forward to the Committee’s concluding observations, and it aimed to improve the living conditions of its citizens.

YUVAL SHANY, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee, thanked the delegation for the hard work invested in the process and he reminded the delegation of the 48-hour deadline to provide additional information to the Committee. The dialogue was very constructive and both sides had ample opportunity to exchange views. The Dominican Republic had strong democratic institutions, it took seriously its international obligations, and it reported regularly and in time. Mr. Shany highlighted positive advances made by the State party, such as the adoption of the law on persons with disabilities, and the ratification of the second Optional Protocol to the Covenant. Nevertheless, the country faced some challenges, such as immigration and nationality, including the uncertain status of certain groups of undocumented persons. Other important issues under discussion were compliance with the principle of non-refoulement, termination of pregnancy, labour conditions in the sugar cane industry, use of force by police, and violence against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.

For use of the information media; not an official record

CT/17/34E

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