Dominican Republic: Situation of Haitian migrants and persons of Haitian origin remains a concern

Review of Dominican Republic | HR Committee | Oct. 2017

Photo credit: IOM

The sixth periodic report of Dominican Republic was reviewed by the Human Rights Committee on the 16th and 17th October 2017. Members of the Committee appreciated the willingness of the State Delegation to engage in the dialogue and regretted the lack of participation of civil society at the review.

One of the main issues of concern raised by Committee members was the situation of Haitian migrants and persons of Haitian origin, which has been a priority issue since the two last reviews in 2001 and 2012.

Other issues raised by the Committee were the restrictive legislation regarding abortion, the discrimination faced by LGBTI persons and the high rates of violence against women, including domestic violence.

The webcast of the review is available here: part 1 and part 2

Situation of Haitian migrants and persons of Haitian origin

The prevalence of systematic racial discrimination, vulnerability and violence against Haitian migrants and persons of Haitian origin in Dominican Republic was one of the main concerns of the Committee. In particular, the Committee raised the high number of deportations of persons of Haitian origin without due process. Additionally, the Committee raised the fact that less than one third of  persons of Haitian origin have been able to claim Dominican citizenship, leaving a majority of them with an undefined legal status. This means that they are at risk of being deported and face difficulties to access to basic services such as health and education. The Committee also expressed concern about the labour conditions of Haitian migrants and persons of Haitian origin in the sugar cane industry. Concerns on the situation of Haitian migrants and persons of Haitian origin have been raised as priority by the Human Rights Committee and other UN and Inter-American mechanisms for many years now.

Discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons

The Committee expressed concern about the lack of an anti-discriminatory legislative framework and, more specifically, the lack of legislation to protect individuals against discrimination and violence based on their gender identity and sexual orientation. The Committee referred to continuous reports on attacks against LGBTI persons, including police harassment and arbitrary arrests. The State replied that despite the lack of anti-discriminatory legislation, various legal texts explicitly protected LGBTI 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 State argued that the Penal Code stipulated that all persons were equal before the law and the Attorney General’s Office had taken measures to prosecute perpetrators of crimes against LGBTI persons. However, there are no criminal laws that specifically criminalise hate crimes against LGBTI persons or consider SOGI as an aggravating circumstance for a crime. And the State was not able to provide disaggregated data on complaints, investigations, prosecutions, sanctions and reparations for LGBTI persons that have been victims of violence.

Criminalization of abortion

The Committee raised serious concerns about the total ban on termination of pregnancy, with sanctions of up to 20 years in prison, including when the life or health of the pregnant woman or girl are at risk, when carrying out the pregnancy could cause substantial harm or suffering to the pregnant woman or girl, in cases in which the pregnancy is the result of a rape or incest or when pregnancy is not viable, as well as in all other circumstances, with the result of a large number of unsafe abortions and a high maternal mortality rate. The Committee referred to reports which indicate that around 10 per cent of maternal deaths resulted from unsafe abortions. The head of the State delegation said there is a proposal to decriminalize some grounds for abortion.

Recommendations of the Committee

Within two years, the State party should provide information on the following recommendations from the Committee’s Concluding Observations. Click here for more details on the follow-up recommendations in Spanish.

The next periodic report is due on 10 November 2022. 

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