Press Release

IACHR Expresses its Deep Concern over the Acts of Violence in the Dominican Republic

April 29, 2015

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Director
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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its deep concern over the alleged attacks against dozens of people identified as Haitian migrants, and their subsequent expulsion from the community of La Ortega, Espaillat province, Dominican Republic. These violent acts were allegedly in response to the murder of the young Dominican Carlos José Núñez Gómez. The Inter-American Commission makes clear it concern over these acts and urges the Dominican authorities to act with urgency to investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators behind these acts, and to adopt the necessary measures to protect Haitians in the Dominican Republic, regardless of their migratory status.

According to publicly available information, on April 9, 2015, dozens of Haitians had reportedly been assaulted and forced to leave the community of La Ortega by a group of Dominicans, presumably in retaliation for the death of the young boy Carlos José Núñez. According to the information issued by the community, the young boy had allegedly been killed by two Haitian nationals, and his disappearance was denounced on Monday April 6, 2015. Subsequently, the brother of the murdered young boy said that those responsible for the death of his brother were reportedly Dominicans, and not Haitians as had been reported from the beginning. The information received by the IACHR indicates that on April 9, 2015, a mob of approximately 40 Dominicans reportedly forcibly entered, breaking the doors and locks, the homes of the Haitians residing in the community of La Ortega, who purportedly were violently removed from their homes and subsequently forced to leave the area, forbidden to return.

The Inter-American Commission had access to videos posted by the media and on social networks that show the moment in which the group of Dominicans pushed a Haitian woman to the ground, pinned her down and beat her while she was defenseless. Additionally, the videos show how a Haitian man was harassed, cornered, had his hands tied and had parts of his hair cut with a knife and machete in front of the group of people. The people who committed these acts were armed with machetes, bats, sticks, belts and other similar objects. The Commission was also informed of the destruction of personal property found in the houses of the Haitians. According to the information received, the National Police allegedly detained 11 people for damaging the property of the Haitian residents in La Ortega.    

The IACHR urges the Dominican State to immediately and urgently adopt the necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, integrity and security of all of the people under its jurisdiction, including migrant populations regardless of national origin, in particular Haitian migrants who find themselves in a situation of risk like the ones mentioned above. The Commission welcomes the statements by the Attorney General of the Republic and the Director General of Migration condemning the attacks against Haitian migrants in La Ortega. Along these lines, the Inter-American Commission urges the Dominican authorities to continue its investigation, prosecution and punishment of those responsible for the death of the young boy Carlos José Núñez, as well as the assaults against the Haitian residents of La Ortega.

The Commission notes with concern that the acts of violence in La Ortega have reportedly occurred in a context of growing hostility against Haitians, Dominicans of Haitian descent, or people perceived as such, caused by Decision 168/13 of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic, on which the IACHR has commented in press release No. 73/13. It highlights events like the one that took place on February 11, 2015, where a Haitian man was found dead hanging from tree in a public park in Santiago, presumably a victim of murder motivated by xenophobia. As a consequence, at the end of February, there were protests in Haiti and the Dominican Republic calling for justice for the lynching of a Haitian national and denouncing the growing anti-Haitian sentiment in the Dominican Republic. Additionally, at the end of March two young Dominicans of Haitian descent were allegedly physically assaulted by drivers in Barahona for “being Haitian.”

In situations like this, the IACHR considers it necessary to recall that States may be found internationally responsible under its human rights obligations for acts committed by third parties and individuals, in the context of the State’s obligations to guarantee the respect of those rights between individuals. The Inter-American Commission also calls for the Dominican authorities to publicly condemn the acts of violence and racial discrimination against Haitians, Dominicans of Haitian descent or people perceived as such in the Dominican Republic, as well as to implement measures aimed at providing for the peaceful co-existence with foreigners, particularly those of Haitian origin.

The IACHR is an autonomous organ of the OAS, and derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the observance of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the General Assembly of the OAS in a personal capacity and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 042/15