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Dominican Republic: UN experts condemn detention and deportation of pregnant and postpartum Haitian women

12 September 2023

GENEVA (12 September 2023) – Pregnant and postpartum Haitian women seeking medical care and assistance are facing intimidation, detention and deportation in the Dominican Republic, UN experts* warned today.

“We are particularly alarmed by reports of arrests, detention and deportation of Haitian migrant women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth in the Dominican Republic,” the experts said.

The women were allegedly arrested during their medical check-ups, by officials of the General Directorate of Migration who conducted raids in public hospitals in Santo Domingo and other parts of the country. Some women were allegedly deported immediately, without an opportunity to appeal the decision. Others were briefly transferred to detention centers before deportation. The experts also received reports that several unaccompanied minors were being deported to Haiti.

They warned that constraints on provision of essential health services, including pre-natal and post-natal follow-up care, has serious negative effects on women and children’s health.

“The fear of deportation may deter irregular Haitian migrant women from seeking medical assistance when they need it, limiting their access to health services and endangering their lives,” the experts said.

“It is vital to establish firewalls between migration control and public services, so that all migrants, regardless of their status, can access essential services without fear of detection, detention or deportation,” the experts said.

They warned that the discriminatory practices would subject Haitian migrant women and children to risks of refoulement and human rights abuses without individualised and objective risk assessment.

The principle of non-refoulement, enshrined in the Convention against Torture and other international treaties, which applies to all forms of expulsion, regardless of nationality or migration status.

“The Dominican Republic must end the intimidation, detention and deportation of pregnant migrant women seeking medical care,” the experts said.


*The experts Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences; Barbara G. Reynolds (Chair-Rapporteur), Bina D’Costa, Catherine S. Namakula, Dominique Day, and Miriam Ekiudoko,  Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; Ms. Priya Gopalan (Chair-Rapporteur), Mr. Matthew Gillett (Vice-Chair on Communications), Ms. Ganna Yudkivska (Vice-Chair on Follow-Up), Ms. Miriam Estrada-Castillo, and Mr. Mumba Malila - Working Group on arbitrary detention; Dorothy Estrada-Tanck (Chair), Elizabeth Broderick, Ivana Radačić, Meskerem Geset Techane and Melissa Upreti, Working Group on discrimination against women and girls; Ms. Ashwini. K.P. Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executionsTlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organisation. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

For additional information and media requests please contact Nouf Al Anezi ([email protected]).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact Maya Derouaz ([email protected]) or Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected]).

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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