SANTO DOMINGO – The human rights situation in the Dominican Republic has deteriorated in 2017, the head of the independent National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) said Monday.
Roughly 180 civilians have died this year in alleged shootouts with soldiers or police, CNDH chair Manuel Maria Mercedes said during a press conference in Santo Domingo to present the panel’s annual report.
The commission discovered that the vast majority of those killings followed a similar pattern: “executions at point-blank range of unarmed citizens, in many cases handcuffed and begging for mercy.”
Mercedes also cited UN statistics showing that within the region, the Dominican Republic trails only Honduras and Guatemala in homicides of women.
While the Dominican Attorney General’s Office puts the number of women slain by current or former partners at around 80, other sources contend the actual figure is closer to 170, Mercedes said.
High levels of corruption and impunity are another major concern in the Caribbean nation, the CNDH chair said, referring to an admission by Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht that it paid out $92 million in bribes to Dominican officials between 2001-2014 to obtain lucrative public works contracts.
“Justice is held hostage by the politicians, and the separation of powers is, regrettably, a utopia, while corruption reaches the highest levels of the Dominican courts,” Mercedes said.
“The Dominican state has nothing good to show in regard to human rights in 2017,” he concluded.