Dominican Republic: Civil Society Delegation Present at The UPR Pre-Session

Dominican Republic

Geneva, March 4, 2024 – A Dominican civil society delegation participated in the Pre-session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) held on Friday, February 16, 2024, in Geneva, Switzerland, with the technical support of the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality). The delegation was composed of Maria Martinez (Movimiento Socio Cultural […]

Geneva, March 4, 2024 – A Dominican civil society delegation participated in the Pre-session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) held on Friday, February 16, 2024, in Geneva, Switzerland, with the technical support of the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality). The delegation was composed of Maria Martinez (Movimiento Socio Cultural de Trabajadores Haiti, MOSCTHA), Manuel Dandre (Red de Encuentro Dominicano-Haitiano Jacques Viau, Jacques Viau Network), Rosalba Diaz (Comunidad de Lesbianas Inclusivas Dominicanas, COLESDOM), Roberto Acevedo (Observatorio de Derechos Humanos para Grupos Vulnerabilizados, ODH-GV) and Jenny Morón (Movimiento de Mujeres Domínico-Haitianas, MUDHA), who were accompanied by Elvia Duque, Senior Race and Ethnicity Program Officer at Race and Equality.

During a week in the Swiss city, the delegation also had the opportunity to conduct advocacy by meeting with representatives of United Nations agencies and representatives of diplomatic missions, where they shared information about discrimination faced by some population groups in the Dominican Republic, in violation of their human rights.

Jenny Morón, of MUDHA, explained the situation of statelessness which, according to civil society estimates, affects more than 209,000 people and which has worsened as a result of Law 169-14, to the point that there are currently four groups whose human rights are affected in one way or another: 1) those who due to their surname and phenotypical characteristics are not associated with the Haitian population and have all their rights; 2) people who initially belonged to Group 1 but the State took away their nationality in 2013 for identifying some link with the Haitian population; 3) those who have been registered in the so-called Special Book (Registration Book for children of non-resident foreign mothers); and 4) those born in Dominican territory but who do not have any documentation or designation of nationality.

Activist Manuel Dandre, of the Jacques Viau Network, shared his experience as a person affected by Constitutional Tribunal ruling 168-13, because despite being born in the Dominican Republic, at the age of 55 the State changed his documents after identifying links with the Haitian population. “Those of us who find ourselves in Groups 2 and 3 have partial or no access to basic rights such as education, employment, transit, etc., and we are afraid of legislative changes that continue to diminish our rights,” he said.

Human rights defender María Martínez, of MOSCTHA, emphasized the crisis faced by the Dominican State in the labor area, with women and the stateless population being the most affected. According to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, more than 95% of women in the country identify their workplaces as places of violence or harassment.

Likewise, activist Rosalba Diaz, from COLESDOM, highlighted that “the lack of legislation that guarantees protection to the LGBTI+ population has generated a great vulnerability of this population” emphasizing in her presentation “the constant cases of mutilation, stigma, and other cases of human rights violations faced by the intersex population even from a very young age, as well as the judicial patterns that undermine the custody rights of lesbian mothers in the Dominican Republic.”

Meanwhile, Roberto Acevedo, of ODH-GV, exposed the lack of access to employment and discrimination suffered by people with HIV/AIDS, because despite the existence of Law 135-11 – which provides for the privacy of information on HIV diagnosis – public institutions perform laboratory tests as part of the process of pre-selection of candidates for jobs, resulting in not employing people who test positive even if they have the necessary skills.

The delegation made a positive balance of the visit because in addition to making visible the crisis that the country is experiencing due to racist, xenophobic, and discriminatory policies, as well as positioning its recommendations, it served to warn about Law 1/2024, which creates a centralized body of the State, with the aim of protecting the interests of the nation and assessing internal and external threats against it. Civil society considers that this law generates the necessary tools to support the State in its work of criminalizing activists and human rights defenders, therefore, the delegation made a strong call to demand its repeal.

In addition, upon the return of the delegation to the Dominican Republic, the approval of Resolution No. 13, dated February 17, 2024, on the processing of birth registration of children of foreigners born in the Dominican Republic, was announced. After a few days of evaluation of this Resolution, at first glance it appears to be a possible solution to several of the issues addressed by this delegation in Geneva regarding the situation of statelessness, but upon a deeper analysis it generates concern because it does not benefit the population in condition of statelessness as it establishes the presentation of documents that they do not possess.

Below, we highlight some of the recommendations presented by this delegation during its advocacy tour at the UPR pre-session in Geneva:

  • Promote the creation of a technical roundtable to accompany, review, and implement the recommendations made in the UPR, with the participation of civil society, a member state of the Council, international organizations, and the Dominican State.
  • Promote a national law on equality and non-discrimination that prosecutes, criminalizes, and punishes racism and discrimination in all its forms.
  • Motivate the State to modify and/or eliminate any legislation, sentence, or provision that is not aligned with international treaties and agreements for the protection of human rights.
  • Motivate the State to sign, ratify, and implement the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI).
  • Prevent statelessness by creating clear, free, and expeditious mechanisms to benefit the victims of Judgment 168.13, given that Law 169.14 has not solved the problem caused by Judgment 168.13. In addition, ratify the 1954 Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
  • Sensitize the authorities to avoid the criminalization of migration and to eliminate the policy of arrest, deportation, and expulsion based on racial profiling. In addition, take the necessary measures to ensure that no Dominican person is expelled from the national territory because of his or her skin color or descent.
  • Promote interculturality in the field of education and in the media.
  • Promote the protection of the human rights of women and girls in vulnerable situations.
  • Create legislation that integrates the benefits of Conventions 156, 190, and 189.
  • Promote and encourage the social integration of vulnerable groups (people living with HIV/AIDS, drug users) so that they can contribute to their community.
  • Motivate the elaboration and promulgation of the regulations for the application of Law 135-11 on HIV/AIDS, which 12 years later still does not have this important legal instrument.
  • Promote the strengthening of the role of the Ombudsman to promote and defend human rights regardless of gender, nationality, and creed.

Race and Equality thanks MUDHA, COLESDOM, and ODH-GV for obtaining their resources and joining the delegation initially composed of MOSCTHA and the Jacques Viau Network, and invites them to continue building together strategies to counteract the harsh reality that some populations live in the Dominican Republic. We also reiterate our commitment to fight against the different discriminations existing in this country hand in hand with the member organizations of the Jacques Viau Network and the NGO coalition CODHAJUR.


Pictured (from left to right): Elvia Duque (Race and Equality), María Martínez (MOSCTHA), Manuel Dandre (Jacques Viau Network), Rosalba Díaz (COLESDOM), Roberto Acevedo (ODH-GV), and Jenny Morón (MUDHA), in Room XXII, Building E of the United Nations. Geneva, Switzerland.

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