CIVICUS

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Dominican Republic

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Last updated on 05.12.2018 at 13:58

Dominican Republic Overview

There is a favourable legal environment for civil society in the Dominican Republic, partly as a result of CSO advocacy efforts.

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Abortion Rights Takes Groups to the Streets

Abortion Rights Takes Groups to the Streets

On 27th November 2018, thousands of citizens participated in the demonstration “Un Paso por mi Familia" (One Step for My Family) organised by the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo to reject proposals to decriminalise abortion.

Peaceful Assembly

On 27th November 2018, thousands of citizens participated in the demonstrationUn Paso por mi Familia" (One Step for My Family) organised by the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo to reject proposals to decriminalise abortion. For years, legislators have debated reforms to the criminal code which would decriminalise abortion in three circumstances: when the life of the woman or girl is in danger, when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or when the foetus has serious complications incompatible with life outside of the womb. However, Congress had not passed any changes to the country’s criminal code yet. 

The debate over the decriminalisation of abortion has also taken women to the streets. As reported previously by the CIVICUS Monitor,  the Coalition for the Rights and Life of Women, comprised of more than 100 different organisations recently demanded "the immediate guarantee of health, life, dignity and integrity of women through the decriminalisation of abortion in extreme circumstances".

In November 2018, Human Rights Watch published the report “‘It’s Your Decision, It’s Your Life’: The Total Criminalization of Abortion in the Dominican Republic.” The report explained how the country's total ban on abortion "threatens women's health and lives". 

Expression

On 19th November 2018, journalist Marino Zapete started his program El Jarabe, denouncing that his life was in danger and that a group  wanted to kill him.

“My life is in danger; they want to kill me. I do not know if this is my last program” Zapete said, according to reports

The journalist accused the ultranationalist group Antigua Orden Dominicana of the alleged plot and affirmed that the group had threatened him by saying he was a traitor to the country. He attributed this wave of aggression to his conversations with Movimiento Marcha Verde (Green March Movement). The group vowed to “confront” the movement and “pro-Haitian” sectors.

As covered by the Monitor, Movimiento Marcha Verde continues to mobilise people in various parts of the country over issues of corruption and disatisfaction with the current government. Since 6th November 2017, numerous protests have taken place under the umbrella of the Movement and in response to impunity and corruption, in particular in regards to the Odebrecht scandal that has rocked the current government over accusations of misconduct and corrupt practices. 

Association in Dominican Republic

The 2005 Law for the Regulation and Promotion of Not-for-Profit Associations provides a favourable legal framework for CSOs to register and operate in the Dominican Republic.

The 2005 Law for the Regulation and Promotion of Not-for-Profit Associations provides a favourable legal framework for CSOs to register and operate in the Dominican Republic. Procedures for obtaining legal recognition are clear, simple, inexpensive and decentralised, and the rules are applied in a non-discriminatory manner. Although no legal ban or restriction on foreign funding is in place, CSOs receiving external funding have been increasingly questioned. Human rights organisations working on the rights of migrants, and especially those of Haitian descent, are especially closely scrutinised. Dominico-Haitian human rights and migration activists are also targeted through intimidation and attacks motivated by their citizenship and line of work.

Peaceful Assembly in Dominican Republic

People in the Dominican Republic protest frequently in pursuit of a wide range of demands, including more and better social services and urban infrastructure, higher wages and labour rights, anticorruption measures, the end of hate crimes against transsexuals, migrants’ rights and environmental protections.

People in the Dominican Republic protest frequently in pursuit of a wide range of demands, including more and better social services and urban infrastructure, higher wages and labour rights, anticorruption measures, the end of hate crimes against transsexuals, migrants’ rights and environmental protections. According to the Dominican Political Observatory of the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (OPD-FUNGLODE), 1,066 social protests took place in the country in 2014. The freedom of peaceful assembly is regulated in compliance with international standards and is usually respected. Recently however the security forces used excessive force to disperse anti-corruption protests. Moreover, migrants from Haiti have been specifically targeted and dispersed with force by the police. In 2014, the police dispersed a protest using firearms and killed one of the protestors.

Expression in Dominican Republic

Journalists in the Dominican Republic sometimes face attacks, harassment and intimidation by state and non-state actors, especially those working on corruption, drug trafficking and migration issues.

Journalists in the Dominican Republic sometimes face attacks, harassment and intimidation by state and non-state actors, especially those working on corruption, drug trafficking and migration issues. For example, four journalists reported receiving death threats and accusations of being “traitors of the homeland” because of how they cover the immigration problem. The Dominican Republic has had an Access to Information law since 2004. However, implementation has been limited, as reported in a 2011 study which shows that 53% of public institutions do not comply with the legislation. Positive developments include the partial elimination of prison sentences for defamation. Media ownership is highly concentrated in the hands of a few individuals and companies, and as a result self-censorship is common among journalists.