dcsimg


Header image for news printout

Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights reviews report of the Dominican Republic

GENEVA (28 September 2016) - The Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights today concluded its consideration of the fourth periodic report of the Dominican Republic on its implementation of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.
 
Introducing the Report, Rhadys Abreu de Polanco, Director General for Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, said that the Dominican Republic had ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1978, and was integrating its dispositions. The country had promulgated a new Constitution in 2010, which had been amended in 2015, and which had as its essential function the protection of the rights of the person.  Human rights were a cross-cutting policy, and all programmes had to have a human rights perspective. Important progress had been made with the creation of the Human Rights National Plan and the General Directorate for Human Rights, which placed the human being at the centre of all public policies.
 
In the ensuing dialogue, Committee Experts asked questions regarding corruption; the tax system and public expenditures; discrimination, in particular against people of African descent; employment of women; human rights and reproductive health as part of education curricula; overcrowding in prisons; and the use, sale and trafficking of drugs. They were highly concerned regarding the deficit of nearly one million housing units; the provision of documents to and regularisation of migrants, in particular, people of Haitian origin, who numbered 150,000; the high rate of unemployment; and labour rights, in particular within the informal employment sector and within the Zonas Francas. The Committee also raised questions about the lack of a universal minimum wage; child labour, and the lack of a minimum age for employment.
 
In concluding remarks, Rodrigo Uprimy, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the Dominican Republic, commended the delegation for acknowledging the need to address remaining problems, including the need to restructure the tax system and the extreme lack of housing, and indicated that the problem of overcrowding in prisons remained.
Ms. De Polanco, in concluding remarks, stressed that the main goal of the delegation had been to have a constructive dialogue. The objective of the Government was to do whatever it could to improve human rights in the Dominican Republic.

In concluding remarks, Waleed Sadi, Committee Chairperson, said that the dialogue had been a good one and the delegation had understood the concerns of the Committee.
The delegation of the Dominican Republic consisted of the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Presidency, the Ministry of Women, the Central Electoral Board, the National Council for Children and Adolescents, and the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations Office at Geneva.  
 
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will next meet at 3 p.m. today to start the consideration of the combined fifth and sixth periodic reports of the Philippines: (E/C.12/PHL/5-6).  
 
Report
 
The fourth periodic report of Dominican Republic can be read here: (E/C.12/DOM/4).
 
Presentation of the Report
 
RHADYS ABREU DE POLANCO, Director General for Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, recalled that the Dominican Republic had ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1978, and was still integrating its dispositions.  It had promulgated a new Constitution in 2010, amended in 2015, which had as its essential function the protection of the person’s rights.  Human rights were a cross-cutting policy and all programmes had to have a human rights perspective.  Important progress had been made with the creation of the Human Rights National Plan and the General Directorate for Human Rights. Those placed the human being at the centre of public policies. In 2014, the literacy plan had scaled up achievements quantitatively and culturally.  The year 2014 had also seen signing of 15 agreements for social organisations that met specific obligations. The cross-cutting policy of human rights was applied in different areas, including health, education and citizen safety.  Sectoral changes had been made in the area of health, including the establishment of a Specialised Prosecutor’s Office on the right to health. Sixty-four activities had been undertaken to ensure the right to health, including seizures against pharmacies, food centres, clinics and confiscations of illegal goods. Positive results had been achieved in combatting poverty.
 
The Constitution of 2010 recognized the importance of water for human rights. In order to achieve its constitutional mandate, the Government had undertaken a series of actions to ensure water and sanitation. A new Criminal Code had been adopted and a draft law on the decriminalisation of abortion in certain cases was in the making. Many programmes were in place with regard to preventing pregnancy among adolescents, including the allocation of USD 1.65 million for the purchase of contraceptives. The Dominican State was a guarantor of human rights for its people and would continue to promote them.  An agency had been established where thousands of young people worked on sexual and reproductive health.
 
Measures in tackling poverty included the PROSOLI Programme, which stood for “Progressing with Solidarity”. Another programme, namely the “surprise visit” programme, provided soft loans for small agriculture farmers.  Yet another programme provided housing units.  Furthermore, a law had been adopted to develop the mortgage market, and a decree had been adopted on low cost housing.  Modernisation of the health reform process was in place, set forth to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and related health strategies. It aimed to focus on malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases that were prevalent.  Access to medicines and the improvement of infrastructure were also part of the modernisation process.  The Dominican State had increased the education budget, leading to the creation of 29,000 new schools or classrooms.
 
Questions by Experts
 
RODRIGO UPRIMNY, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the Dominican Republic, opined that over the last few years the Dominican Republic had made real progress in securing economic cultural and social rights.  The new Constitution tried to implement those rights. Over the last years, it seemed that growth had been pretty robust. Reduction of poverty had also been seen.
 
Regarding civil society, the Committee had requested that the State draft the report in consultation with civil society. Had there been consultations with civil society on the drafting of the report, asked the Expert. 
On statistics, the Expert noted that there were no numbers on the real impact of programmes.  What was the Government doing to develop a statistical system which was sensitive to human rights?
 
 
Question was asked on the status of the Covenant, its ranking in the domestic legislation, and whether it was directly applicable.  The Expert was unsure that Article 74, which stipulated the Covenant’s supremacy, was implemented in practice. On the contrary, recent rulings seemed to be in opposition to international instruments on human rights. Were there examples of good rulings to uphold human rights?
 
Commending the fact that the Ombudsman had been constitutionalised, he asked whether the Ombudsman had as his mandate monitoring of the compliance with economic, social and cultural rights. Was that body in abidance with the Paris Principles? Allegedly, it had not yet been accredited.
 
There was evidence that corruption was at a very high level. Transparency International had ranked the Dominican Republic 133rd in that respect.  What measures were undertaken to address the fight against corruption? Had there been investigations of high-level corruption cases?
 
On the tax system and public expenditures, the fiscal pressure was 14 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, whereas in other countries that rate was about 20 percent. It seemed that the Government was not collecting taxes, and thus social expenditures were low.  Inequality had to be reduced, which meant that taxes had to be raised. Did the Government intend to have a tax system which was more progressive and fairer?
 
The Expert then asked a series of questions related to discrimination. He commended the fact that two specific articles to that effect could be found in the Constitution. He noted, however, that he was not sure that was the case in practice. Was there a clause pertaining to economic, social and cultural rights?
 
There seemed to be no comprehensive legislation that was overarching and included all types of discrimination, including that against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. What were plans in that respect?
 
Was the Government developing the idea of ethno-racial variable which would shed light on the discrimination against people of African descent?
 
What had the Government done with regard to regularising the status of Haitians, 150,000 of whom were in an irregular situation, asked the Expert. 
 
Despite the quota law on women, only seven percent of the mayors were women, and low percentages were equally seen in the Parliament and other bodies. What steps did the Government intend to take to address the situation of the low representation of women in senior positions?
 
An Expert said that the country had seen over 20 years of strong economic growth, but only in terms of informal labour market.  What was the good effect of that growth on informal labour market policies?
 
There was a high rate of underemployment, which stood at 60 percent. What was being done to better utilise the underutilised labour force?  She also asked about further measures to close the gender gap and increase the employment of women.  
 
What was the impact of measures to combat youth unemployment, which was at 17 percent?
 
What was the extent of the Zonas Francas? The Committee was concerned that women were particularly exposed to the violation of their rights. What was the assessment of the labour rights in those zones in practice?  There was no paid leave, hardly any periods of rest, and no entitlement to domestic benefits. How was to the Government planning to change the situation on the ground?
 
What was being done vis-à-vis Haitians who had no passport, and therefore fell outside the law in every respect, and could not even seek their labour rights?
 
Was the minimum wage sufficient to live on, asked the Expert.  She also wanted to hear about the mechanisms to monitor compliance.
 
Question was also asked on actions taken to counter the gender pay gap. Allegedly women received 77 percent of the wage that men received for the same type of work. Did the State Party consider the “equal pay for work of equal value principle”?  Had there been discussion on a social protection floor?
 
An Expert asked whether the message of the Covenant had been understood by the Government, and invited the delegation to look into the General Comments which gave some details on its provisions.
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
Regarding the consultation process in the drafting of the report, the delegation informed that all reports were indeed prepared in the consultation with non-governmental organisations, as well as different sectors that made up the national protection system. The technical team included the business sector, religious representatives, civil society, and trade unions.
 
On the issue of statistics, the delegation stated that the 2008 Planning Law had been adopted and was being now implemented.  A series of indicators had been developed according to sectors, including health and education; they were followed on a quarterly and annual basis, which provided for disaggregation. In the National Development Strategy, there were two parts corresponding to the social area.  Human rights were integrated in that strategic axis, which had seven aims: quality education, social security, health, national culture and national identity in a global world, sport and physical leisure for human development. That strategy was in the Annual Development Plan, and that was how those strategic goals were accounted.
 
Article 74 of the Constitution provided guarantees and stipulated that once a treaty was ratified, it was directly transposed into law.
 
On the independence of judges, the delegation informed that back in 1996 the National Magistracy Council had been created, and it was the Council which elected members of the Supreme Court of Justice. This Council was made up of representatives of various bodies from different branches, and it was subject to a public hearing.  Citizens were able to participate in the selection of judges.  
 
The Ombudsman was currently a woman, elected in 2013. The mandate of the Ombudsman was limited, but important because all citizens had access to the Ombudsman. Many people did not want to go to the courts and thus submitted their complaints to the Ombudsman. Those were able to represent them to ensure that they were respected in their particular rights.
 
The delegation insisted that poverty and inequality were not just due to corruption, but were rather a structural problem. It was unfair to reduce the cause of poverty to corruption.  The delegation did confirm, however, that addressing corruption was a key concern.  An Ethics and Transparency Unit had been established to that effect, and there was a secret letter box to denounce those asking for bribes.  A series of mechanisms were in place to ensure that public procurement was transparent and not subject to corruption. Furthermore, there were oversight committees, made up of observers who were not part of the Government, but were rather professors, church persons, etc. There was indeed a clampdown on corruption, stressed the delegation. Just the previous week, the President had stated that he would not be complicit with impunity.  Any Minister who was accused of corruption would be subject to the procedures established in the law and the Constitution.
 
The delegation explained that the National Development Strategy was the outcome of nationwide consultations, which had involved various sectors of society.  That National Development Strategy focused on education, for which the budget had been increased to four percent of the Gross Domestic Product.  Other key parts were investing in energy under the “electric pact” and the fiscal pact.  The latter ensured the distribution of income. The country was trying to reduce the lowest class and increase the middle class, which was the reason why the fiscal pressure was not as high as in other countries.
 
According to the law, all Dominicans were equal, which meant not only nationals but all those under the jurisdiction of the Dominican Republic.  Under the Penal Code, there were two articles which sanctioned discrimination. There was no state-lead anti-discriminatory policy. A government unit had been working on a draft bill on anti-discrimination, in consultation with civil society.
 
The wage gap did exist, said the delegation, and the country had initiated a series of measures to counter that.  One of those was an “equality stamp” for businesses as well as for government institutions. In addition, the Ministry of Labour was responsible for coordinating the labour inspection system.
 
The delegation said that the PROSOLI Programme, or “Progressing with Solidarity” was a comprehensive programme which included guidance at all levels.  Those companies provided training and care for family members, including nutrition, cooking and food. Pregnant women received vaccinations for their children.  Guidance was provided for women that needed PAP smears, or medical care in the case of breast cancer, for example. The Ministry of Economy Planning and Development mapped those people through a database, and a card was provided to them.  They received 1,000 pesos per family.  There was presently an additional bond called the “electricity bond” which was channelled through the schools. Families received additional compensation for each child in school.  Child labour was being also targeted through the PROSOLI Programme, with the same type of incentives. That Programme served as an example for other countries in Central America.
 
Questions by Experts
 
An Expert expressed concern on the increasing number of cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of children.  How many cases, prosecutions and convictions were there in that regard?  The legislation did not define a minimum age for sexual consent - were there plans to change that?  
 
Allegedly, 113,000 of the children in the work force were engaged in hazardous work. What had been undertaken to eradicate the worst forms of child labour under the Programme to Eliminate Child Labour by 2020?  Were there plans to bring the minimum age for work up from 14?
 
Progress in reducing poverty and extreme poverty had witnessed sharp ups and downs. The overall trend from 2001 indicated that the poverty rate had almost doubled. How did the Government account for that alarming trend and what did it propose to do to bring it down from those levels?
 
Regarding water and sanitation, 28 percent of rural households were not connected to the aqueduct in 2010.  Why were so many among the poor denied access to clean water, side by side with the large swimming pools and golf courses for the wealthy? In addition, 13.6 percent of all households had no access to sanitation. Were there plans to remedy the situation?
 
Less than two percent had been spent on health services in the 2015 budget, leading to poor access to medical facilities.  What was being done to raise the budget on health services?
 
At least 2,500 identified HIV/AIDS patients were known to lack access to antiretroviral drugs.  The basic health plan excluded those on the grounds of high cost. Was the Government aware that generic medicines were available for the cost of USD 12 per month? Why were generic medicines not used, asked an Expert.
 
How did the State party propose to comply with its obligations under the Covenant in regard to abortion? The criminalisation of abortion contributed to high mortality rates, especially among teenage girls.
 
An Expert asked how the fostering of the right to education worked in practice. Had there been trials in courts as to the violation of that right?
 
Question was asked about the reason for the lack of data.
 
Stating that gender stereotypes could be combatted through human rights training, the Expert asked whether the delegation could address the lack of human rights teaching in the curricula.
 
How was Article 64 in the Constitution on cultural rights implemented?  How did the State party promote the notion of memory, immaterial and material, of Afro-history, as well as the memory of slavery?
 
The Expert inquired whether the Government was considering ratification of the Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure.
 
Turning to women’s rights, an Expert opined that, in spite of many initiatives, there seemed to exist structural obstacles which prevented taking those measures further.  The delegation was asked to comment.
 
An Expert asked about the reasons for precarious housing conditions, especially with regard to migrants. What was being done regarding forced evictions? Did the law comply with international standards to that effect, and were victims compensated?
 
Another Expert noted that the punishment for drug trafficking was quite severe. Were there other, more preventive mechanisms in place?  The delegation was also asked to comment on the prison conditions.   
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
Regarding the quota for women, the law stipulated that political parties had to present a list of candidate with at least 33 percent women.  In practice, each party had actually presented more than 33 percent, however they had not been elected by the citizens. What other options could the State party have?  There was no ongoing discussion on the law on participation which could complement the presence of women.
 
With regard to the questions on labour rights, the delegation stated that there were differences in the minimum wage according to the field of work.  There was no minimum wage in the informal sector.  The minimum wage was decided by a tripartite committee, composed of trade unions, business owners and members of the Government.
 
Harassment at the work place was prohibited, confirmed the delegation.   
 
In 2016, 400,000 jobs had been created. Nearly 130,000 had been created by small and medium sized enterprises.  That was the outcome of the formalisation of informal businesses, which the Government was promoting by funding small informal businesses.
 
Access to medicines for persons living with HIV/AIDS was provided.
 
Turning to the issue of child labour, the delegation said that the Government had conducted two surveys, which had led to a roadmap to eradicate child labour by 2020. That was a national roadmap connected to regional and global frameworks.  Child labour was part of the National Development Plan and it was a priority. The roadmap included health and education, and would be revised every two years.  The Ministry set up local working groups in order to implement the roadmap.  The minimum age for employment was formally 14, but was informally being increased.
 
A Commission for Monitoring and Follow-up on sexual exploitation had been established and a magistrate had been appointed on that issue.  In 2015, there had been 27 cases before the courts and 15 had been under investigation. A Bi-National Commission for the Dominican Republic and Haiti had been set up on several issues of concern to both countries, including sexual exploitation and trafficking.
 
In order to ensure the promotion of employment among women, women-headed small and medium sized enterprises were given a priority in terms of the budget allocated to such businesses, or the so-called public purchasing contracts. The National Competitiveness Council, the Ministry of Labour, United Nations Development Programme and the Division of Women had initiated a programme for training. Infotech was also conducting a training in areas not traditionally known for women, including car industry, including electronic maintenance, building and construction.
 
Regarding sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the work place, the delegation informed that there was a line, as well as a Guideline for Equal Opportunities and Non-Discrimination, which specifically referred to discrimination against women in the workplace. In order to promote gender equality, an Inter-Ministerial High Level Committee for Sustainable Development had been established in 2016. A Gender Mainstreaming Strategy was being drafted in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Development Agenda.
 
There was a deficit of nearly 900,000 to one million housing units, concentrated in the low and middle-income families; 38 percent of families did not own their homes. The investment in low-cost housing was 0.5 percent of the national budget or 0.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.  The delegation acknowledged that that was a challenge for the country.  2016 was named the “year of housing” and promoted goals and actions to promote measures to that effect.  Two executive decrees had been drafted to that effect. Through 104 projects and with the help of international and regional organisations, hundreds of housing units had been built. The social housing project had affected 61 areas of the country, especially rural areas. Half of the housing projects had been done with the objective to house families whose homes had been destroyed due to storms and other natural disasters. Another project was a Home Improvement Project in order to improve the quality and strength of the structure for individuals who, certain reasons, could not move from their homes. Another area of action was the Trust Fund whereupon businesses were incentivized to fund low-income funding.
 
In reference to rent payments not being made, the delegation explained that that was a breach of a leasing contract, and thus illegal under the law. However, when the State declared a given area to be for public use, its inhabitants were placed in another area. If they did not wish to do that, a replacement housing was put into place, and compensations had to be accepted.  Thus, there were sometimes forced evictions.
 
The Dominican Republic was looking into ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Covenant, and had already ratified the Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights related to the death penalty.
 
On human rights in the school curricula, it was explained that in 2015, the Dominican Republic had adopted its first National Plan on Human Rights. That had taken a long time, but now included ten different pillars, such as economic, social and cultural rights, and particularly education. Hundreds of civil society organisations had taken part in the drafting. Programmes would soon be launched to address human rights as early as primary school.
 
On whether the Dominican Republic held campaigns for cardiovascular diseases and preventing smoking, the delegation replied that the Government indeed conducted conferences, workshops, street medical check-ups and other awareness-raising activities.  No-smoking zones had been established, and cigarette packs stated that “smoking kills.”
 
The use, sale and trafficking of drugs was prohibited in the Dominican Republic. There were different categories within the law, including possession, trafficking, sale, and so on. They corresponded to different sentences, ranging from six months for possession to between five and twenty years for drug traffickers, peddlers and those who involved children in that matter. 
 
With regard to racial discrimination and the right to culture, the delegation stated that the Dominican Republic was a multi-racial and multi-cultural country.  There were no black individuals segregated geographically; the population was mixed, with some 83 percent being descendants of African or Afro-Caribbean descent.  In addition, there were other migrants, including those from China. In terms of preserving tangible and intangible cultural memory, activities conducted to do so included carnivals, dances, education in schools, and so forth.  The merengue and bachata were part of the Afro-Caribbean culture. 303 projects had been approved in that direction, not just in the capital and tourist spots, but also in small towns.  “Free cultural schools” were also available, as were extended night hours in museums. There were also cultural groups that included persons with disabilities.  The State Party recognised intangible heritage and documented the registration of slaves and the resistance against tyranny. Civil society played an important role in restoring the tangible and intangible heritage and making the African roots of the country more visible. The Ministry of Culture was working on that, as was the “House of Africa.”
 
There were many migrants in the Dominica Republic, most of whom were Haitians, informed the delegation. There were also many Chinese.  There was no restriction on the cultural expression of the Haitians.  Their magical and religious events were visible. The country had been working on textbooks to ensure that the image of today’s Dominicans was not white – as had been in the case of textbooks hitherto – but rather Afro-Caribbean.
 
In higher education, there was an effort to move the weight from the so-called “hard-sciences” such as math, physics and chemistry to other areas, such as business and marketing, healthcare and paramedics.  Scholarships were given for people to study education. The State was subsidizing those, which resulted in an increase in the enrolment in those areas.  Enrolment in information technology and computer engineering was record high. One of the challenges was the lack of research, and the country was creating incentives to that effect, in order to build capacity and know-how. Over the last ten years, an international scholarship programme had been developed, and 5,000 nationals had been sent to study abroad, namely in “hard sciences”, as there was an abundance of those students.  A civil society organisation, together with the Government was promoting  participation of women in “hard sciences”.  
 
Follow-Up Questions by Experts
 
An Expert inquired about the scale of the protection of human rights defenders involved in the protection of economic, social and cultural rights.
 
What was being done to promote access to medicines and treatment for people with Hepatitis C?
 
An Expert was of the opinion that the lack of access to education for persons with disabilities was not due to the lack funds but rather political will. Would the budget be increased in that respect?
 
What was the impact of PROSOLI in diminishing poverty?  Since there were so many programmes, was it not a good idea to impose a minimum wage?
 
An Expert asked if there was a conscientious promotion of the provisions of the Covenants. Was there a National Human Rights Institution?
 
Another Expert reiterated his concern vis-à-vis abortion, stating that it was linked to the high level of maternal mortality rates. What was being done in to curb that?
 
An Expert wanted to know what was being done to address the discrimination in health care.
 
Question was also asked on what was being done to improve prison conditions. 
 
Replies by the Delegation
 
In the area of health, the country was focusing on the prevention of diseases such as malaria, as well as on providing primary health care, and ensuring access to medicines and health care without discrimination. That was reflected in budget headings.  The primary health care unit had basic entry units, with the view of ensuring health guarantees on all areas of the territory of the country. In terms of HIV/AIDS, “people’s pharmacies” had been established in all areas of the country, providing medicines at very low costs.  Anti-retroviral medicines were provided for the whole year.  The country was looking into buying generic medicines for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.
 
The delegation informed that over 8,000 cases of violation of labour rights had been recorded, including wage payments, dismissal, employment conditions and other similar issues. The Ministry of Labour provided legal assistance for any employee who asked for it.  Of over 1,000 employees who had asked for it, 306 had been Haitians, and there had also been Columbians and Chinese, amongst others.
 
The State party was working to ensure the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health in the curricula.  The Government was aware that that was an issue that needed more work.
 
Regarding education and gender issues, the Ministry of Women and the Teachers’ Association had signed an agreement in 2012 to pool efforts to train staff on harmonious gender relations, and to bring about a progressive reduction in gender violence through prevention. There was the UNITE programme to stop violence against women, as well as a 24-hour hotline. Information was provided to inform that it was possible to have a life free of violence. The Ministry of Education employees who conducted training had to complete a 60-hour course on a life free of violence, where sex education, the prevention of pregnancy in adolescents and other issues were addressed.
 
In relation to the rulings handed down in relation to the 27 cases on child abuse, the delegation explained that 13 had been for smuggling, 12 for sexual exploitation, one for child pornography, and one for the sale of children. Three of these cases had been completed, with three men e prosecuted; the other 24 were awaiting trial.
 
On questions related to racial or ethnic discrimination, and data related to it, the delegation informed that in the Dominican Republic there were no “minorities” as such, but rather groups of migrants.
 
The delegation acknowledged that four percent of the Gross Domestic Product was too small of a budget for education, and lamented that that was not unique to education, but to the whole country. The focus was to ensure that children were going to school. That was why other programmes were put in place, such as the “It all begins with You” programme. In order to provide access, infrastructure was needed, which was the first challenge. Previously, children would go in two groups, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.  Now, there was an extended school day, which meant that children were in school the whole day and that the parents could be at work without worrying that their children were on the streets.  That development had led to the introduction of the “school meals programme” providing three meals a day to children. That was a contribution that the Government was making to domestic household economies. Parents could be at work and not worry about what their children were eating.
 
The first National Plan for Human Rights had been drafted in 2015. Concerning journalists, there had been no complaints in that respect, said the delegation.
 
Regarding the provision of documents to migrants, and in particular, people of Haitian origin, the delegation stated that the Government was intent on providing everyone with papers and regularizing their position. The State Party was in the position to regularise the papers, however could not provide those migrants with national identity documents.  The challenge was registering people in rural areas. The Ministry had started mobile registration units in order to provide documents to all Dominican citizens.
 
On the sexual abuse of minors, the Dominican Republic had tried perpetrators, including priests, who had been tried and convicted.  However, when the perpetrator was a foreigner and had diplomatic immunity, the country had to wait for the country of origin to withdraw the diplomatic immunity in order to try the perpetrator.  The delegation referred to a case when the perpetrator had had to be extradited.  The perpetrator had been taken to his place of origin, and had unfortunately not been prosecuted, but rather ended up in the House of Lords.
 
The delegation conceded that there was a great deal of overcrowding in prisons, but since 1996, a model had been in place which established minimum rules and which aimed at dignity, and provided training, among other things. Progress had been made. Currently there were 21 model prison facilities, guarded by people specifically trained for that purpose and not by the military. That model had been hailed by a British specialist as an example for other countries. 
 
A Law for Persons with Disabilities had recently been drafted, which provided for a five percent quota for employment for those persons in public and private enterprises.
 
Concluding Remarks
 
RODRIGO UPRIMY, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the Dominican Republic, stated that, according to data received by the Committee, the overcrowding in prison facilities had reached 70 percent, which indicated that the problems in prison facilities remained. He hoped the delegation would use the 48-hour period to respond to other unanswered questions. He commended the delegation for acknowledging remaining problems, including the need to restructure the tax system so that it was more equitable, and the extreme lack of housing. The delegation had undertaken important commitments in upholding economic, social and cultural rights, including undertaking an anti-discrimination law and protecting the rights of human rights defenders.  The dialogue had been productive. He hoped that the Committee’s concluding observations would be distributed throughout the country, and that they would contribute to better enjoyment of human rights in the Dominican Republic.
 
RHADYS ABREU DE POLANCO, Director General for Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, said that they had felt a great deal of receptiveness on behalf of the Committee and thanked them for their attitude. The main goal of the delegation had been to have a constructive dialogue. The Government was doing whatever it could to improve human rights in the Dominican Republic.  
 
WALEED SADI, Committee Chairperson, stated that the dialogue had been a good one and that the delegation had understood the concerns of the Committee. Evidence of repeating questions by some Experts and follow-up questions indicated that the Committee had some remaining concerns.  He hoped and trusted that the State Party would take them seriously, including policy makers, judiciary and civil society.  The Committee had learned a great deal from the interactive dialogue, and Mr. Sadi hoped that the delegation had done the same. 

_____________

For use of the information media; not an official record