PRISON CONDITIONS AND THE SITUATION OF PRISONERS
246. The Constitution and Law 224 on the Prison Regime116 contain provisions that define the structure of the prison system and the obligations and rights of inmates.
247. Law 224 establishes that the General Bureau of Prisons, a central agency under the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic, is entrusted with the direction and control of all the prisons in the country. Nonetheless, the internal administration and security of the prisons is entrusted to the state security forces, i.e. the National Army and the National Police. Of the 32 prisons under the Prison System, 22 are under the security of the National Army and 10 under the National Police. A large number of the prisons are located in Army fortresses and National Police barracks.117
248. According to information provided by the General Bureau of Prisons during the Commission's visit, the 30 prisons of the Dominican Republic had a population of 11,114 prisoners. Of these 96% were males and 4% females. The vast majority of the prisoners, approximately 85%, were in preventive detention, while only 15% had been convicted and sentenced.118 Of the total prisoners, 29% were in prison for drug-related crimes, 17% for robbery, and 24% for homicide.119 In the vast majority of cases, the first floor was built in the 1940s, and according to the General Bureau of Prisons, "almost 100% have serious shortcomings in the sanitary, electrical, and drinking water supply systems, with a considerable degree of deterioration."120
249. In its observations on the IACHR’s Draft Report, the Government of the Dominican Republic reported that the prison population had increased to 14,871, and the latest statistics showed that 25% of the prisoners were in prison for drug-related crimes, 31% for robbery, 25% for homicide, 5% for rape, 4% for disorderly conduct, 2% for illegal possession of firearms, and 8% for other offenses, including counterfeiting and arson.121
250. In the same document setting forth its observations, the Government indicated that the structural shortcomings at the La Victoria prison had been corrected to a significant degree after remodelling and repairs that included facilities for an additional 1,500 prisoners, reconstruction of the "Alaska" area, and the completion of a two-floor building known as the "Galpones" (sheds), as well as the subdivision, into eight areas, of the patio adjacent to the "Vietnam" sector. In addition, the Government reported on the new industrial kitchen, improvement of the sanitary system, the termination of the veterans’ cell and the cell for prisoners in transit, the installation of a sales post, the increase in surveillance staff, the elimination of one dark cell, the construction of a small structure for receiving and searching visitors (as in the style of a customs service), and the installation of a public telephone.122
251. Next, the Commission will go into what it considers the most important problems afflicting the Dominican prison system and the most significant advances of the state in relation to this issue.
B. Control of the prisons
252. As mentioned above, the effective control over the Dominican prisons is entrusted to the security forces of the state. The director of each prison is generally a civilian warden appointed by the Executive, at the recommendation of the chief prosecuting judge of the Republic. As the Government of the Dominican Republic indicated, "the number 2 official at each prison is the officer in charge of security, designated by the military or police institution."123 The Director General of Prisons, Bernardo Santana Páez, is also a colonel in the National Police, recently promoted to the rank of general officer, even though he heads up a civilian agency. In this respect, the Government has indicated: "Until such time as a specialized entity is operating that is not under the National Army or National Police, it is essential that the Director of Prisons has the military or police rank appropriate for performing his duties."124
253. The current situation of control of the prisons does not meet the requirements set forth in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Those Standard Minimum Rules establish that the members of the prison staff should work exclusively as professional prison officers and should have civil service status.125
254. The Standard Minimum Rules also provide: "Before entering on duty, the personnel shall be given a course of training in their general and specific duties and be required to pass theoretical and practical tests." After entering on duty, the personnel are to attend "courses of in-service training."126 Even so, at present there is no training program in the Dominican Republic for persons who work in the prisons.
255. The present Government recognizes that the situation of prison control is unacceptable. For this reason, the Government has announced its intent to strengthen civilian control of the prisons in the hands of the General Bureau of Prisons, remove the prisons from the barracks and facilities of the security forces, create an institute for training prison personnel, and create a specialized prison police as a civilian body in charge of security in the prisons.127
C. Overpopulation of the prisons
256. The prisons in the Dominican Republic were built to fit 6,000 prisoners; nonetheless, the prison population is over 12,000 inmates.128 In some prisons, the overpopulation is even more accentuated. For example, at the Najayo Preventive Prison, in June 1997, 2,059 were being held in an institution built for 700. At the La Romana prison, built with a capacity for 89 people, 384 were being held in detention.129 Overcrowding creates an extremely difficult situation in the prisons in terms of maintaining order, and has helped spark the riots that have occurred. During the on-site visit of the Commission, one of these riots occurred at the Office of the Attorney General for the National District in Santo Domingo. The situation of extreme overcrowding, lack of space, and overpopulation was found by the Commission upon visiting La Victoria prison and the jail at San Pedro de Macorís. It was also found that in addition to overpopulated cells, the prisoners were amassed into other spaces, such as an old cafeteria.
257. During the Commission's on-site visit, the Government informed it that it was considering building four prisons nationwide, including a preventive prison for 500 women in the National District.130 In addition, it was restoring old prisons, to gain additional capacity. According to the report by the Government on the human rights situation in the Dominican Republic, of December 30, 1997, a minimal capacity of 500 places was added on the prison at San Pedro de Macorís, and the prison at San Francisco de Macorís was modernized, bringing its capacity to over 300.
258. In its observations on the IACHR’s Draft Report, the Government of the Dominican Republic indicated that the expansions and remodelling in the prisons had created an additional capacity for 3,000 prisons; nonetheless, it recognized that the high degree of overcrowding was continuing, due to the growth in the prison population.131
259. Further, the Government has informed the IACHR that it is making efforts to diminish the prison population, adopting measures to: (1) expedite judicial procedures, which makes it possible for some people to be acquitted and released; (2) ensuring that persons who have the right to release on bail can benefit from it; (3) releasing those persons who had not left the prisons, for different reasons, despite a release order on their behalf; (4) releasing those detainees who have been more time in preventive detention than would have been the case had they been convicted and given the maximum sentence for the crime of which they were accused. These measures made it possible, for example, to reduce the inmate population at La Victoria prison from 6,000 to 4,000 in just a few months. In September 1999, the Government indicated that the number of prisoners at La Victoria had declined to 3,300.132 The Commission recognizes that the measures taken and/or announced constitute important first steps for resolving the difficult situation of overcrowding in the prison system in the Dominican Republic.
260. Without prejudice to the value of the measures indicated above, the Commission must note that some of the solutions mentioned are necessarily partial and unsatisfactory. For example, releasing a person who has been in preventive detention for more time than the maximum term provided for his or her alleged crime implies that the accused--whose innocence must be presumed--must serve the maximum sentence that could have been imposed, without any finding of guilty. Nor is reparation made for the damage caused by such imprisonment, awaiting trial, for an excessive period. It is urgent that the criminal procedures be expedited to decide on the accusations pending against prisoners held in preventive detention, in keeping with due process and within an acceptable period, based on international standards in this area.133
261. The widespread existence of preventive detention aggravates the overpopulation of the Dominican prisons. According to information received by the Commission, it has been necessary, in some circumstances, due to the situation of overpopulation, to distribute prisoners whose trials pertain to the Judicial Department of Santo Domingo to the various prisons in the Dominican Republic, instead of holding them in the La Victoria National Penitentiary, which corresponds to the Department of Santo Domingo. This distribution of prisoners outside of their jurisdiction results in their judicial proceedings not being heard in a timely manner.134 The relocation of prisoners to prisons far from the jurisdiction where they should be tried, together with the lack of logistical support for their transfer, results in the prisoners summonsed by the judges not being brought to court.
262. This problem is aggravated by the scarce means of transportation of prisoners from the prison to the court.135 The Government has indicated that this problem has been resolved by contracting private vehicles. Nonetheless, the prisoners have indicated that this service does not apply in general, as it only benefits those who can pay the fare.
263. In this respect, the Government noted in its observations that the means of transportation for prisoners had improved, as they now had five busses with a capacity of 80 passengers, and several minibusses. There were also contracts with private companies in the municipalities in the interior to transport the prisoners to the courts locally. Nonetheless, the Government stated that despite its efforts, certain problems persisted.136
264. The overpopulation of the prisons is also aggravated, according to complaints received, by the fact that the persons for whom release orders have been issued continue to have problems getting out of the prisons. Some of these persons are unable to pay the monetary fines imposed on them, in addition to their prison sentences, and are, therefore, required to serve additional time in prison before being released.137 In other cases, they are not released immediately due to bureaucratic problems.
D. Judicial assistance and the processing of benefits for prisoners
265. According to Col. Bernardo Santana Páez, Director of the General Bureau of Prisons, during the IACHR visit, more than 50% of the inmates could resolve their problems and leave the Dominican prisons under orders for release on bail or with their acquittal and release order.138 The lack of an adequate system of public legal assistance makes it difficult to obtain a release order even where it would be proper for one to be issued.
266. In the Dominican legal assistance system, inmates do not have the right to a public defender until trial.139 Therefore, for the lengthy periods of preventive detention that the inmates experience, they do not enjoy any free legal assistance to help them prepare, for example, requests for release on bail. The organizations that work with the prisoners point out that the public defenders are finally assigned at the trial stage often receive the cases immediately prior to having to present them, and so do not have enough time to prepare the case.140
267. In its observations, the Government referred to the existence of a free legal defense program, by which agreements were entered into with universities that provide legal assistance; nonetheless, it did not provide any specific information on that program or on the results obtained to the benefit of the prisoners.141
268. In May 1993, the Pilot Project for Public Defense was initiated, with a team of ten attorneys, for the purpose of providing indigent prisoners free legal assistance during the pre-trial stages. This project was supported by an agreement among the Supreme Court of Justice, international agencies, and universities. The project continues to be active, but it is not a public institution; it has been affected by a series of interruptions due to lack of funding, and at present it does not receive any financing from the state.142
269. The Government of the Dominican Republic is making efforts to resolve the problem of processing release orders, requests for release on bail, etc. One important step that has been taken in this direction is the installation of agents from the Public Ministry in each center of detention for the purpose of expediting the various procedures and informing the prisoners of their rights.143 Nonetheless, several organizations indicated that this policy is being implemented only in the prisons and bases in the capital, and not in the interior.
E. Failure to separate prisoners by categories
270. In its visits to the various prisons, the Commission was able to verify, through statements by prisoners that were confirmed by prison authorities, that in many prisons the prisoners are not separated by category.144 To the contrary, prisoners convicted of different types of offenses, persons held in preventive detention, and persons detained having been caught in flagrante delicto are all held in the same establishment and in the same spaces.
271. Article 5(4) of the American Convention indicates: "Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances, be segregated from convicted persons...." The Standard Minimal Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners also state: "The different categories of prisoners shall be kept in separate institutions or parts of institutions taking account of their sex, age, criminal record, the legal reason for their detention and the necessities of their treatment".145
272. The prison authorities recognize that there has never been any classification of prisoners, due in part to the physical plant in many of the country's prisons, which have large wards without sufficient divisions to separate the prisoners.146 The new plans to build and remodel prisons provide for a greater possibility of separating the different classes of prisoners. One important project is aimed at building a prison for preventive detention for 500 women in the judicial department of the National District. To date, the Judicial Department of Santo Domingo has no preventive detention facility for men or women.147
273. The Government has indicated in its observations that with the recent designation of the La Victoria and Najayo prisons as preventive detention centers, and those at Monte Plata and 15 de Azua as centers for convicts, the separation of prisoners in preventive detention and convicts has begun;. Nonetheless, the Government indicated that this task had not yet been completed.148
274. In addition, minors have traditionally been imprisoned with adults in the Dominican prisons. Article 5(5) of the Convention provides: "Minors while subject to criminal proceedings shall be separated from adults...." As noted above, the Standard Minimum Rules also provide for the classification of prisoners by age, separating minors from adults.
275. The current administration and the General Bureau of Prisons have noted that they would like to assign priority to resolving the situation of minors jailed with adults, which is clearly in violation of international standards. For example, in early 1997, more than 250 minors were found at La Victoria prison living with the adults who were detained there. All these minors were transported to a new correctional facility, in the city of Azua.149
276. Nonetheless, the non-governmental human rights organizations allege that the courts continue to send prisoners who are minors to prison institutions that are for adults. The day of the Commission's visit to La Victoria prison, there were three minors who had been sent there the day before by the court, and who were being transferred to a prison appropriate for them.
277. The Commission received information from the General Bureau of Prisons and from non-state sources indicating that several minor children, one year old, were being housed with their parents in the country's prisons.150 It is reported that at the prison in Najayo several services are provided during the first year of life, and that the children, after turning one year, are transferred outside of the prison.
278. The Commission expresses its concern over the situation of these children. At the time of the Commission's visit it was clear that the infrastructure, nutrition, and medical services, which were generally insufficient for the prisoners, would be even more inadequate for meeting the needs of the children in the prisons.
279. Article 19 of the American Convention sets forth the right of children to enjoy the measures of protection that their status as children requires. The Dominican Republic is also a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, of the United Nations. According to these instruments, the best interests of the child should be the standard for making decisions with respect to policy affecting children, who naturally require access to adequate nutrition and health, and educational services, for their development.151
280. In its observations to this report, the Government reported that a building was being built for minors at the Najayo prison, which included workshops, a school, a sports area, and all the facilities of a modern establishment.152
F. Disciplinary regime in the prisons
281. During the on-site visit of the Commission, it was noted that there was no set of regulations nor any manual on the treatment of prisoners in the prison system of the Dominican Republic, nor in the particular prisons. The Director General of Prisons recognized during the Commission's visit to the prisons that "discipline has traditionally been imposed in an improvisational fashion, as there was no system or regime for managing the prisons or for the treatment of prisoners."
282. The Standard Minimal Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners indicate, in this respect, that what conduct constitutes a disciplinary offense, and the types and duration of disciplinary punishment that can be applied, should be established by law or by regulation of the competent administrative authority.153 The Standard Minimum Rules also indicate that corporal punishment, confinement in a dark cell, as well as all cruel, inhumane, or degrading punishment are absolutely prohibited as punishment for disciplinary offenses.154
283. The Commission visited the punishment cell in La Victoria prison and observed the insalubrious conditions found there, particularly moisture, darkness, and lack of ventilation. The Commission considers that it does not meet international standards on punishment for disciplinary offenses that can be imposed in a prison. The Director General of Prisons informed the Commission that the plans to remodel La Victoria prison included the construction of a punishment cell that would meet all international standards.
284. The Government recently pointed out that with the new Manual on Prisoner Discipline, punishment cells are no longer used, and noted that at this time one-person cells are being built, for prisoners whose privileges and comforts are suspended, in light of the security risk posed by the prisoner.155
285. Finally, the Commission received complaints156 indicating that in some of the country's prisons, the guards and administrators committed acts of violence against the prisoners.157 Such treatment would be in violation of the clear provision of Article 5(1) of the Convention, which provides: "Every person has the right to have his physical, mental, and moral integrity respected." Article 5(2) provides:
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment. All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
286. In the observations made by the Government of the Dominican Republic on the Draft Report, it expressed that the Office of the Attorney General, with the support of two non-government organizations, Pro Familia and Participación Ciudadana, had implemented a campaign on "the rights of detainees," in which they emphasized the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, the Constitution of the Dominican Republic, and Law No. 224, all of which point to the obligation to respect the physical, mental, and moral integrity of detainees.
G. Health conditions and food
287. During its 1997 on-site vist, the Commission had an opportunity to look into the precarious and deficient health conditions affecting the prisoners at the prisons it visited. The Commission observed that refuse was not subjected to any hygienic treatment, that there was a lack of drinking water, and that the prisoners kept in larger spaces (wards, cafeterias, etc.) built small divisions using dirty cloths, cardboard, and other materials. At the prisons visited, rain got into the cells and other spaces in the prisons, and the water would accumulate in areas inhabited by the prisoners, leading to a situation that posed risks to their health.
288. The plans to build and remodel the prisons are aimed at correcting these problems. For example, at La Victoria, the Commission was able to see that hygienic conditions were more carefully preserved in the recently-built wing.
289. The Government noterd in its September 1999 observations that the hygiene problem had improved at most of the prisons with the installation of trash cans and daily garbage collection. The prison fumigation service was established in late 1997 and continues to operate.
290. The Commission received important information on the lack of adequate medical care and psychological treatment for the prisoners. The prisoners denounced that there is not sufficient medical personnel, and that even in the prisons with large populations there was not a full-time physician. The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners provide that all prisons shall make available "the services of at least one qualified medical officer who should have some knowledge of psychiatry."158 The prisons, in general, do not have medicines available; rather, they must be requested from the capital on a case-by-case basis.159 The Commission also received complaints that it was very difficult to obtain transportation to a hospital in case of grave illness, since there was a lack of vehicles for transporting inmates to a physician or hospital. In this respect, the Standard Minimum Rules of the United Nations provide that inmates who are ill and require special treatment should be transferred to specialized institutions or civilian hospitals.160
291. In this respect, the Government reported on the existence of a medical corps within the General Bureau of Prisons made up of 40 physicians, four psychologists, one psychiatrist, 24 nurses, one bioanalyst, and one dentist. The Government indicated that from January to July 1999, approximately 8,000 medical check-ups were performed in the public hospitals, and 22,946 received services inside the prisons. As regards the difficulties transporting the sick prisoners to the hospitals, the Government noted that it still does not have an ambulance, but three minibusses had been assigned to La Victoria, Najayo, and Monte Plata.161
292. The Commission also received complaints indicating that AIDS and tuberculosis patients are not separated from the other prisoners, and that they do not receive adequate treatment for their serious illnesses. It was announced that terminal AIDS and tuberculosis patients would be released, but the prisoners at La Victoria National Penitentiary denounced that persons with these diseases continued to be held there.162 The Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos told the IACHR of the existence of more than 200 AIDS and tuberculosis patients in the country's prisons.
293. The Government indicated, in its observations, that in effect there were several prisoners with AIDS and tuberculosis, yet they were receiving medical treatment. In addition, the Government indicated that a dental office had been set up at the La Victoria prison, and a medical dispensary was being built.163
294. The Commission received information indicating that prisoners in the Dominican Republic did not receive adequate food. The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners state that all prisoners "shall be provided by the administration at the usual hours with food of nutritional value adequate for health and strength, of wholesome quality and well prepared and served."164
295. The Government informed the Commission, during its visit, that the food budget in the prisons had increased and the prisoners interviewed indicated that the lunch program had improved slightly. Nonetheless, the Director General of Prisons stated that it was necessary to increase the budget for food for the prisoners. Several sources also informed the Commission that in some prisons the prisoners do not always get breakfast and supper, or that these meals were very small. In addition, they reported that in many prisons the prisoners did not receive food on Sundays. In many cases, the prisoners depended on their families, who brought them food, to receive the food they need.165
296. At the prisons it visited, the Commission took notice that some of the prisoners slept on the floor. The prisoners explained that they do not receive beds from the prison administration, so they have to buy their own mattresses.
H. Visits by family members
297. Visits by family members are allowed in the Dominican prisons; in many cases, the visitors are allowed to enter the cells with the prisoners. The visitors are subject to a rigorous personal inspection by the officers of the security forces in charge of the prisons. At the exit from the San Pedro de Macorís prison, the Commission interviewed some persons who were waiting in line to visit their family members. These persons indicated that for women, such inspections generally include a vaginal inspection.
298. In the Argentine case of "X" and "Y", No. 10,506, on the prison authorities' practice of performing vaginal inspections on women who wish to have personal contact with the prisoners, the Commission concluded that to establish the legitimacy of a vaginal check or inspection, in a particular case, the following requirements must be met:
1. it must be absolutely necessary to achieve the lawful objective in the particular case;
2. there must not exist an alternative measures;
3. it should be determined by judicial order; and
4. it must be carried out by an appropriate health professional.166
299. The IACHR considers that in general the current practice of inspections in the Dominican Republic does not meet those requirements, especially requirements 3 and 4.
300. With respect to visits by family members and friends, the Government stated that with implementation of the procedural manual, the days and times for such visits had been specifiedd. In addition, an order was given for vaginal inspections to be made only on an exceptional basis, applicable only to persons suspected of carrying drug contraband, and to be performed by nurses.167
I. Rehabilitation, opportunities for work and recreation in the prisons
301. One of the functions of a prison sentence should be rehabilitation of the individual so that he or she can have a harmonious reinsertion into society, to the extent possible.168 In this context, the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners indicate:
Provision shall be made for the further education of all prisoners capable of profiting thereby, including religious instruction in the countries where this is possible. The education of illiterates and young prisoners shall be compulsory and special attention shall be paid to it by the administration.169
302. Law 224 on the Prison Regime also establishes a progressive regime as the treatment to be accorded the prisoners, for the purpose of achieving their rehabilitation and reinsertion into society.
303. Nonetheless, in the Dominican prisons there has not been any rehabilitation or education program. As regards the Progressive Regime established by law, the Director General of Prisons acknowledged to the IACHR that "that regime has never been applied."170
304. In 1997, a private program was begun for the rehabilitation of drug addicts among the prison population. The program does not receive any funding from the state.171 The Commission considers it necessary that the funds needed for carrying out this program and others of the same nature be provided.
305. The productive work of the penitentiary is considered an essential mechanism for rehabilitating drug addicts. In this connection, the Standard Minimum Rules establish: "Sufficient work of a useful nature shall be provided to keep prisoners actively employed for a normal working day."172 Some Dominican prisoners work on small construction works and some workshops in their prisons, but the majority have no work at all.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
306. The Commission values and supports the process of modernization of the Dominican prisons; nonetheless, it reiterates its concern over the extremely difficult conditions Dominican prisoners continue to face, including insufficient food, scarcity of drinking water and beds, inadequate sanitary facilities, overcrowding, insufficient medical care, and lack of rehabilitation, education, and work programs.
307. The Commission observes that the widespread practice of preventive detention constitutes a flagrant violation of the American Convention, with respect to the presumption of innocence and the due process provisions, and aggravates the overcrowding of Dominican prisons. The Commission recommends that the state adopt the measures needed to correct the chronic delays that persist in the administration of justice, which should include that all detainees who have not been tried within a reasonable time shall be released without prejudice to the continuation of their trial.
308. The Commission recommends to the Dominican state that it adopt the necessary measures to guarantee that prisoners are treated with the dignity inherent to them as human beings. The physical conditions of the prisons should guarantee appropriate food and medical care. Corporal punishment, solitary confinement in dark cells, and violence against prisoners should be eliminated.
309. The Commission recommends taking the measures needed to guarantee that persons accused but not tried be separated from convicts. In addition, the practice of confining minors with adults should be halted immediately.
310. The Commission urges the Dominican state to adopt special measures in the case of vaginal inspections of women who visit their family members; in particular, such inspections should be allowed only when authorized by judicial order and performed exclusively by health professionals.
311. The Commission wishes to highlight the importance of creating a Prison School to train a body of civil service personnel to work in the prisons and to strengthen the civilian administration of the prisons. It is similarly important to establish a program for rehabilitation and education in the country's prisons.
312. The Commission is pleased to note the creation of the institution of the Ayudante de Fiscal (public ministry agent), established in several of the country's prisons and police stations with the greatest volume of activity in Santo Domingo, which will provide counsel during the first stage of detention, to ensure that the rights of detainees are respected. The Commission hopes to see this institution expanded to all detention centers nationwide.
116 Law 224, on the Prison Regime, was promulgated on February 24, 1984.
117 Síntesis sobre la problemática del sistema penitenciario dominicano y las medidas que se están tomando para resolverla ["Summary of the situation of the Dominican prison system and the measures being taken to resolve it"], submitted by Col. Bernardo Santana Páez, Director General of Prisons, Santo Domingo, 1997 (hereinafter "Síntesis del Director General"), p. 14; submission by the Instituto de Investigación y Documentación de los Derechos Humanos; submission by the president of the Colegio de Abogados of the Dominican Republic.
118 List of prisoners in the 29 prisons of the country, General Bureau of Prisons, June 1997.
119 Síntesis del Director General, p. 21; "Director prisión informa concluye proceso clasificación presos," El Diario, December 21, 1996.
120 Id., p. 5.
121 Observations of the Government of the Dominican Republic on the Draft Report of the IACHR, of September 21, 1999, p. 11.
123 Observations of the Government of the Dominican Republic, September 21, 1999, p. 12.
124 Id., p. 12.
125 Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955, and approved by the Economic and Social Council by its resolutions 663 C (XXIV) of July 31, 1957 and 2976 (LXII) of May 13, 1977 (hereinafter "Standard Minimum Rules"), Article 46(3).
126 Id., Article 47(2) and (3).
127 Report of the Government on the evolution of human rights in the Dominican Republic, December 30, 1997; Síntesis del Director General, pp. 14-15.
128 Report of the Government on the situation of human rights in the Dominican Republic, of December 30, 1997; List of prisoners in the 29 prisons of the country, General Bureau of Prisons, June 1997.
129 Id., List of Prisoners.
130 Síntesis del Director General, pp. 9, 13; Commissioner for Reform and Modernization of the Justice System, Act of November 7, 1996.
131 Observations of the Government of the Dominican Republic, September 21, 1999, p. 14.
132 Observations of the Government of the Dominican Republic, September 21, 1999, p. 14.
133 See, e.g., Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Case of Suárez Rosero, Judgment of November 12, 1997, paras. 70-78.
134 Síntesis del Director General, p. 23.
135 Submission by the President of the Colegio de Abogados of the Dominican Republic during the on-site visit of the IACHR.
136 Observations of the Government of the Dominican Republic, September 21, 1999, p. 14.
137 The law on fines draws no distinction and establishes a system of compensatory imprisonment, pursuant to which a person in jail shall remain in jail one (1) day for every peso of fine, until the amount of the fine is covered for up to two years. Nonetheless, Article 53 of the Criminal Code provides: "when the fines and court costs are to be paid to the government treasury, if, after the sentence is served, whether it imposes suffering or dishonor, or whether it entails confinement, the convict proves lawfully his or her insolvency, then the court shall order his or her release." Executive decree number 65-96, of February 23, 1996, regulates the mechanism for exempting from the payment of fines persons who show such a state of indigence. The state of indigence is shown by certifications of no ownership of property or of exemption from the payment of taxes in several public offices, such that on many occasions the lack of information and the limitations on a person imprisoned make it difficult to exhaust these procedures.
138 Síntesis del Director General, p. 9.
139 Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 221.
140 Information provided by the Fundación Institucionalidad y Justicia. See supra, para. 117.
141 Observations of the Government of the Dominican Republic, of September 21, 1999, p. 15.
143 Síntesis del Director General, p. 24; "Nombrarán fiscales en todas las cárceles del país para acabar con las mafias," Listín Diario, February 16, 1997.
144 Síntesis del Director General, pp. 9-13.
145 Article 8 of the Standard Minimum Rules.
146 Síntesis del Director General, p. 5.
147 Id., p. 9.
148 Observations of the Government of the Dominican Republic, September 21, 1999, p. 16.
149 Síntesis del Director General, p. 11.
150 During the IACHR's on-site visit, the Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos reported the existence of 22 children (of varying months of age) born in the country's prisons. See, e.g., "Maternidad en la cárcel de Najayo," Listín Diario, June 1, 1997.
151 Article 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that "the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration" in all actions concerning children.
152 Observations of the Government of the Dominican Republic, September 21, 1999, p. 21.
153 Article 29 of the Standard Minimum Rules.
154 Id., Article 31.
155 Observations of the Government of the Dominican Republic, September 21, 1999, p. 16.
156 During its visit to the prisons, the Commission was informed by some prisoners of the abusive treatment to which they were subjected.
157 Colegio de Abogados, Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, and Comité Dominicano de Derechos Humanos.
158 Article 22(1) of the Standard Minimum Rules.
159 Interviews with personnel at La Victoria prison.
160 Article 22(2) of the Standard Minimum Rules.
161 Observations of the Government of the Dominican Republic, September 21, 1999, p. 18.
162 Letter from the Movimiento por la Justicia, La Victoria Penitentiary, National District, August 19, 1997.
163 Observations of the Government of the Dominican Republic, September 21, 1999, p. 17b.
164 Article 20(1) of the Standard Minimum Rules.
165 Comité Dominicano de los Derechos Humanos and Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos en la República Dominicana.
166 IACHR, Report No. 38/96 (Argentina), October 15, 1996, Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 1996, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.95, Doc. 7 rev., March 14, 1997, para. 114.
167 Observations of the Government of the Dominican Republic, September 21, 1999, p. 19.
168 Article 65 of the Standard Minimum Rules states: "The treatment of persons sentenced to imprisonment ... shall have as its purpose ... to establish in them the will to lead law-abiding and self-supporting lives after their release and to fit them to do so. The treatment shall be such as will encourage their self-respect and develop their sense of responsibility."
169 Id., Article 77(1).
170 Síntesis del Director General, p. 2.
171 Proyecto Comunidad Terapeútica Carcelaria, Inc., developed by Dr. Oneida Acevedo, May 1997.
172 Article 71(3) of the Standard Minimum Rules.