1. The Committee considered the third periodic report of the
Dominican Republic (CCPR/C/70/Add.3) at its 1213th to 1215th meetings
held on 25 and 26 March 1993 and adopted at its 1232nd meeting
(forty-seventh session), held on 8 April 1993 the following comments.
2. The Committee welcomes the third periodic report of the Dominican
Republic and the opportunity to continue its dialogue with the
State party. The Committee notes, however, that the information
provided in the report was in many respects incomplete and did
not take into account the dialogue that had taken place during
the Committee's consideration of the previous report. The Committee
would also have appreciated a more candid appraisal by the State
party of existing legislative deficiencies as well as factors
and difficulties encountered in the application of the Covenant.
The third periodic report added little to what had been reported
earlier in that respect and is deemed by the Committee to be insufficient.
The Committee, however, expresses its appreciation to the delegation
for the report as well as for the additional information it provided
in response to questions raised by members of the Committee. However,
many questions were not addressed and much of the information
which was provided was not sufficiently detailed.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the
3. The Committee notes that the Dominican Republic has received
large numbers of refugees and foreign workers. It also notes that
the State party has had to overcome a legacy of authoritarianism.
These and other circumstances may to a certain extent explain
why many of the provisions of the Covenant still have not been
incorporated into the legal order of the Republic.
C. Principal subjects of concern
4. The Committee notes with regret that, in general, there has
been a lack of progress in the application of the Covenant since
the consideration of the State party's second periodic report.
In particular, there remains a significant body of legislation
which still is not in conformity with the Covenant despite the
fact that more than 15 years have elapsed since the accession
of the Dominican Republic to the Covenant. A number of rights
contained in the Covenant are not guaranteed in the present legal
framework and other rights are being invalidated by domestic legal
provisions that are incompatible with the Covenant. The Committee
also regrets that it has not been informed in an unequivocal way
about the Covenant's de jure and de facto status within
the legal system of the Dominican Republic. In addition, the grounds
for declaring a state of emergency are too broad, and the range
of rights that may be derogated from is too wide to be in conformity
with article 4 of the Covenant. The Committee is also concerned
over the lack of adequate knowledge of the provisions of the Covenant
by the legal profession, judicial officials and the public at
large. Furthermore, the Committee notes that there is no governmental
authority specifically responsible for ensuring the observance
of human rights standards. In that connection, the Committee notes
that there has not been sufficient follow-up to its views adopted
under the Optional Protocol but welcomes the promise of the State
party for closer cooperation in this regard in the future.
5. The Committee expresses its concern over the lack of protection
afforded to Haitians living or working in the country from such
serious human rights abuses as forced labour and cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment. The Committee expresses its concern over
the fact that the protection of the fundamental human rights of
foreigners is subject to reciprocity. The Committee also expresses
its concern over the degrading living and working conditions of
Haitian labourers and the tolerated practices that effectively
restrict their freedom of movement. Although some progress has
been made in improving their living and working conditions, particularly
with regard to child labour, these remain at an unacceptably low
level. Furthermore, while many Haitian workers have been prevented
from leaving their place of work, there have also been incidents
of mass expulsions from the country. In this regard, the Committee
considers that Presidential Decree No. 233-91, which resulted
in the mass deportation of Haitian workers under 16 and over 60
years of age, represents a serious violation of several articles
of the Covenant.
6. The Committee expresses its concern over the low level of
legal protection and effective remedies available to the public
concerning arbitrary arrest and lengthy pre-trial detention. The
Committee notes with concern the large number of detainees awaiting
trial, which is particularly worrisome in view of the high number
of cases of alleged police abuse during detention and reports
of unhealthy prison conditions. The Committee also underlines
that punishment by exile is not compatible with the Covenant.
Moreover, the powers and independence of the judiciary do not
appear to be sufficiently protected. A judicial order for release
should be implemented without question.
7. The Committee expresses its concern over the inadequate protection
of the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities in
the Dominican Republic. In this regard, the Committee notes that
the prohibition of broadcasting in a language other than Spanish
is not in conformity with article 19 of the Covenant. The right
of peaceful assembly is apparently not adequately respected by
8. The Committee recommends that the State party should undertake
a major initiative aimed at harmonizing its domestic legislation
with the provisions of the Covenant. In this regard, the Constitution
and the relevant civil and penal codes should be reviewed in order
to bring the law and its application into line with the provisions
of the Covenant. The State party should also consider the establishment
of offices and mechanisms to monitor the application of human
rights standards and protect and promote human rights. This could
include the designation of an independent office to receive complaints
and, where necessary, undertake investigations into abuses. More
publicity should be given to the provisions of the Covenant and
the Optional Protocol in order to ensure that the legal profession,
the judiciary and the general public are more aware of their contents.
9. The situation concerning the living and working conditions
of Haitian labourers should be addressed as a matter of priority.
The State party should ensure the implementation of laws concerning
labour standards, including adequate monitoring of working conditions.
In this regard, the Committee emphasizes the necessity of strengthening
the capacity of the labour inspectorate to effectively monitor
the working conditions of Haitian labourers, with a view to ending
their slave-like exploitation. Child labourers in particular require
a higher level of protection and the relevant international standards
should be vigorously applied. There should also be more active
enforcement, particularly in the "export zones", of
the exercise of trade union rights in conformity with article
22 of the Covenant. Additionally, Presidential Decree No. 233-91
should be abolished rather than merely suspended.
10. The Committee recommends that measures should be immediately
undertaken to reduce the backlog of persons in detention awaiting
trial and that the number of exceptions to the 48 hour rule should
be significantly reduced. Much more severe sanctions are needed
to effectively discourage torture and other abuses by prison and
law enforcement officials. Steps should also be taken to tighten
the regulations governing the use of firearms by police. Training
courses in international human rights standards should be provided
for police and prison officials.
11. The Committee recommends that the State party take further
steps for the elimination of discrimination concerning ethnic,
religious and linguistic minorities and recommends that the relevant
legislation be reviewed in order to ensure its conformity with