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TITLE:  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                       
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

                         DOMINICAN REPUBLIC


The Dominican Republic is a constitutional democracy with a 
popularly elected President and a bicameral Congress.  In 
practice, the system heavily favors the executive branch, 
headed by six-term President Joaquin Balaguer.  The Supreme 
Court heads an only nominally independent judiciary whose 
members are appointed by the Senate.  Political parties 
representing the ideological spectrum from left to right freely 
participate in elections.

The National Police (PN), the National Department of 
Investigations (DNI), the National Drug Control Directorate 
(DNCD), and the military (army, air force, and navy) form the 
security services.  The PN has general investigative and 
principal arrest authority.  The military services have 
investigative and general arrest authority for armed forces 
personnel and may arrest suspects apprehended by military 
patrols.  The DNI is the principal national investigative body 
for national security concerns and also possesses arrest 
authority.  The DNCD, a narcotics law enforcement agency formed 
in 1988, brings under a single authority elements of the PN and 
military services.  All security services are under control of 
the Government and are generally responsive to civilian 
authority, but some members of these organizations continued to 
be responsible for human rights abuses.

Once heavily dependent on sugar, the Dominican economy has 
grown more diverse; tourism and export processing zones (EPZ's) 
are now major sources of income and employment.  The economy 
showed the benefits of reforms initiated in 1990; inflation was 
reduced and real economic growth was expected to be from 1.5 to 
3 percent in 1993.  State-owned firms such as the State Sugar 
Council (CEA), the Consortium of State Enterprises (CORDE), and 
the Dominican Electricity Corporation (CDE) continue to be 
heavily involved in the economy, and the financial and 
administrative difficulties of these firms still impede 
economic growth.  

Principal human rights problems included continuing instances 
of police killings of civilians, arbitrary detention and 
beatings of suspects, security services' refusal to obey 
judicial orders, judicial corruption, court backlogs and 
maladministration, and abuses of Haitian migrant workers.  The 
extent of antiunion discrimination in the EPZ's gained 
increased public attention, while the condition of itinerant 
Haitian workers in the sugar industry continued to show 
improvement from previous years.  


RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

No political killings occurred in 1993, but there were several 
instances of extrajudicial killings by the police.  Police use 
of excessive force led to at least nine civilian deaths.  At 
least six other civilians were killed in personal disputes with 
low-ranking police personnel, with intoxication or romantic 
interest as the typical causes in these deaths.  A police 
tribunal convicted a former police lieutenant and two former 
patrolmen on homicide charges and sentenced them to 5 years in 
prison for their role in one of the nine deaths.  The cases 
involving the other eight deaths reportedly were pending before 
civilian courts at year's end.

Among other cases heard by police tribunals in 1993, a DNCD 
agent received a 15-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter in 
a September 1992 shooting, and a police corporal received a 
15-year sentence (reduced to 5 years on appeal) for fatally 
wounding a fleeing suspect during an April 1992 raid on a 
gambling ring.  Police tribunals also sentenced two 
ex-patrolmen to 15 years and 10 years, respectively, in prison 
in connection with two incidents in which they shot and killed 
other police personnel.

Police personnel discharged for their involvement in deaths in 
1993 were reportedly awaiting trial in the civilian court 
system, a process which will likely take years.  Although a 
civilian court dismissed charges against an ex-police 
lieutenant involved in killing lawyer Rafael Ortiz during 
September 1992 antigovernment protests, the police have refused 
to release the ex-lieutenant.  Two ex-police majors accused of 
misconduct in the same case remain fugitives; the ex-patrolmen 
and civilian informant charged in the actual shooting remain in 
prison awaiting trial on charges of homicide.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no known cases of politically motivated 
disappearances.  


     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Torture and other forms of physical abuse are illegal under 
law.  There continued to be instances of security service 
personnel engaging in beatings of detainees, although some 
monitors report a decline in incidence of abuse.  

Cases in which police officials received little or no punishment
for abuse continued in 1993.  In one instance, a National Police
lieutenant colonel accused of running a torture ring in police 
headquarters was relieved of his job in March 1992 but selected 
for advanced training before the charges were formally 
dismissed in January 1993.  The National Police appealed the 
ruling, and the case remains pending before a higher court.  In 
another case, on September 29, a police tribunal sentenced a 
police captain to a 1-month suspension without pay and an 
ex-police captain to 6 months in prison in connection with the 
torture of a part-time university professor in January 1992.  
In other instances police tribunals convicted for physical 
abuse an ex-patrolman who received a prison sentence of 
5 months, a corporal sentenced to 2 months in prison, a 
patrolman who was given 5 months, and two patrolmen who 
received 2-month sentences in two separate incidents.  
Approximately 60 percent of cases brought before police 
tribunals resulted in convictions; the figure in civilian 
courts is significantly lower.

Prisons are overcrowded, and health and sanitary conditions are 
substandard.  Some prison personnel reportedly engage in 
extortion and other corrupt activities, and most prisoners find 
it necessary to rely on relatives or their own finances in 
order to be fed adequately.  Medical care suffers from a lack 
of supplies.  In some instances, minors have been incarcerated 
in adult prisons (see Section 5).

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution stipulates that suspects may be detained for a 
maximum of 48 hours for investigation before arraignment, after 
which they must be charged or released.  However, in special 
circumstances, suspects may be detained for longer periods with 
the approval of the prosecutor's office.  Security services 
officials continued routinely to violate constitutional 
provisions by detaining suspects for "investigation" or 
"interrogation" beyond the prescribed 48-hour limit.  Law 
enforcement authorities traditionally detain all suspects and 
witnesses to a crime, and use the investigative process to 
determine who are innocent and merit release and who should 
continue to be held.

Military officers occasionally violated legal provisions 
against military detention of civilians.  Despite announcements 
to the contrary, the DNCD and National Police continued to 
engage in indiscriminate roundups of people in poorer 
neighborhoods.  In 1993 these roundups were increasingly 
targeted at drug trafficking, and most detainees were released 
after several hours in custody.  The security services also 
continued occasionally to detain relatives of suspected 
criminals with the aim of forcing the surrender of suspects; 
most of these cases occurred when relatives were present at the 
scene of a search that uncovered narcotics.

The National Police and the DNCD persisted in their refusals to 
release some prisoners and detainees who had been granted 
judicial release orders.  Law enforcement and other 
governmental authorities cited judicial corruption as the 
justification for this noncompliance.  In some of these cases 
involving narcotics or terrorist-related crimes, it appeared 
that evidence merited pursuing the cases in the judicial 
system.  In other cases, prosecutors unsuccessfully appealed 
the judicial decisions to the Supreme Court so there was no 
further recourse available to block the release orders.  The 
54 prisoners in such circumstances include Luis Lizardo 
Cabrera, the subject of three separate judicial release orders 
since his detention as a suspect in the 1989 bombing of a 
U.S.-Dominican Binational Center which killed a 1-year-old girl.

No exile of citizens took place in 1993.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Although the Constitution stipulates an independent judiciary, 
in practice interference occurs from other public and private 
entitites, including the executive branch.  The court system 
includes a Supreme Court, an appellate court, and courts of the 
first instance.  The Senate appoints judges at all levels.  
Their terms of office correspond roughly to those of the 
President and other elected officials.  A newly elected Senate 
can either replace the judges or reconfirm them, and may remove
or transfer them by a majority vote.  Critics credibly charge 
that senators customarily nominate judges on political grounds 
rather than for their competence as jurists.  These same 
critics also fault some prosecutors and judges for corruption, 
incompetence, and a lack of effort.  Administrative supervision 
of judges and prosecutors by the authorities in charge of these 
bodies is poor to nonexistent.

The Constitution provides for public trial, and court-appointed 
lawyers normally are provided at public expense to indigents in 
felony criminal cases, but rarely in criminal misdemeanor 
cases.  The judicial process is plagued by chronic delays; of 
the penal system's approximately 11,000 detainees, only about 
10 percent have been convicted.  Although the right to judicial 
determination of the legality of detention exists, pretrial 
detention is legal and commonly employed.  This custom, coupled 
with a lack of administrative and financial support for the 
system, creates a major backlog of cases, which in turn causes 
suspects to suffer long periods of pretrial detention that 
sometimes exceed possible criminal penalties.

Though the judicial system has provisions for a suspect's 
release on bail while awaiting trial, in practice, release on 
bail usually signifies dismissal of a case as the judiciary 
rarely, if ever, continues proceedings in such instances.

There are no special courts for political or national security 
cases, and civilians may not be tried by a military court.  
Members of the armed forces and police are under the 
jurisdiction of military or police courts but are frequently 
remanded to the civilian court system after review by a 
military or police board.

The Dominican Republic has no political prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

There were no credible reports of arbitrary governmental 
interference with the private lives of persons or families.  
Constitutional safeguards against invasion of the home are 
generally observed.  A residence may not be searched except in 
the presence of a prosecutor or an assistant prosecutor, except 
in cases of "hot pursuit" or instances where there is probable 
cause to believe that a crime is in progress.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The law provides for these liberties and they are respected in 
practice.  Dominicans of all political persuasions exercise 
freedom of speech.  The numerous privately owned radio and 
television stations broadcast all political points of view.

The Government controls one television station but no major 
newspapers.  Newspapers freely reflect independent and 
opposition points of view.  Although journalists operate in a 
relatively tolerant environment, a certain amount of 
self-censorship exists for fear of offending prominent 
persons.  In April the Government refused to bestow the "best 
novel of the year" award on the work chosen by an independent 
selection committee; this refusal stemmed from the perception 
that the book was an allegorical parody of the President.  
Economic considerations also inhibit free expression, as all 
the principal media outlets are owned by powerful economic 
consortiums or wealthy, influential families.  In addition, 
some journalists solicit, or are responsive to, bribes in order 
to generate reports.

Public and private universities enjoy broad academic freedom.  
The main public university, the Autonomous University of Santo 
Domingo, with approximately 35,000 students, has no restrictions
on enrollment and maintains a policy of nonintervention (other 
than curriculum development) in classroom affairs.  The 
Government exerts no control over private universities except 
for the preservation of standards, and teachers are free to 
espouse their own theories without government oversight.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution grants these freedoms, which are commonly 
respected in practice.  Outdoor public marches and meetings 
require government permits, which are usually granted.  
Professional organizations of lawyers, doctors, teachers, and 
others function freely and can maintain relations with 
counterpart international bodies of diverse political 
philosophies.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution prohibits discrimination on religious grounds 
and the Government has not interfered with the free practice of 
religion.  There exist no religious requirements to hold public 
office, no restrictions on the practice of religious faiths, 
and no social discrimination based on religion.  The Dominican 
population is predominantly Roman Catholic; several 
non-Catholic faiths have well established churches in the 
country.  


     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Dominican citizens face no unusual legal restrictions on travel 
within or outside the country.  During a week-long period in 
October, the Government ordered Dominican military personnel to 
repatriate undocumented Haitian nationals.  The forced 
repatriations occurred in various regions of the country; human 
rights groups estimated that between several hundred and a few 
thousand Haitians were forcibly repatriated to Haiti.  Local 
authorities in border regions have also undertaken on their own 
recognizance to repatriate small numbers of illegal Haitians, 
but these instances are difficult to document.   Charges of 
forced recruitment and detention of Haitians to work on sugar 
plantations diminished in comparison with earlier years (see 
Section 6.c.).

Since the 1991 coup in Haiti, the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) accorded refugee status to 
1,341 Haitians who fled to the Dominican Republic.   Although 
the Government began processing petitions for Dominican 
recognition of the refugee status of the UNHCR wards in 1991, 
only 107 Haitians have been granted such status.  Contingency 
planning for refugees has not developed very far since then.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The Dominican Republic is a constitutional democracy.  The 
President, all 150 members of the Senate and Chamber of 
Deputies, and the mayors and city councilmen of over 100 
municipalities are freely elected every 4 years by secret 
ballot and universal suffrage (except for active duty military 
and police, who may not vote).  The President appoints the 
governors of the 29 provinces.  The nation enjoys a functioning 
multiparty system.  Opposition groups of the left, right, and 
center operate openly.

In practice, the President dominates public policy formulation 
and implementation, exercising his authority through use of the 
veto, discretion to act by decree, and influence as the leader 
of his party.  The Congress traditionally has had limited 
powers and seldom disapproves actions by the executive branch, 
but it provides an open forum for the free exchange of views 
and debate.  The governing party holds a majority in the Senate 
(16 of 30 seats) and has a plurality (42 of 120 seats) in the 
Chamber of Deputies.


Women and minorities confront no legal or practical impediments 
to political participation.  Eight of the country's 29 
governors, 4 Cabinet-level executive branch officials, and 14 
of the 120 Congressional Deputies are female.  

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Nongovernmental human rights organizations operate freely 
without government interference.  In addition to the Dominican 
Human Rights Committee, several other Haitian, church, and 
labor groups exist.  The Dominican Republic has been slow to 
acknowledge requests for information and criticism from some 
international human rights organizations.  The Government took 
note of criticism by the U.N. Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) 
at its March 1993 session but did not address the issues or 
take any action on them.  There were no instances of killings, 
beatings, or harassment of human rights monitors in 1993.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

     Women

Discrimination based on race and sex is prohibited by law.  
However, women traditionally have not shared equal social and 
economic status or opportunity with men, and men hold the 
overwhelming majority of leadership positions in all sectors.  
In many instances, women are paid less than men in jobs of 
equal content and equal skill level.  According to one study, 
women are the head of the household in 37 percent of the 
families in the capital city of Santo Domingo.  Divorce is 
easily obtainable by either spouse, and women can hold property 
in their own names apart from their husbands.  Legislative 
proposals to modify women's status under the Civil and Penal 
Code remained stalled in the Congress at year's end.

A study by one women's group reported 280 cases of violence 
against women from November 1990 to November 1992, based upon 
media reports and national police statistics.  Of these, 
64 percent were homicides, indicating that physical abuse cases 
were greatly underreported.  No systematic studies exist on the 
extent of sexual harassment, an issue especially relevant to 
the export processing zones (EPZ's), which have a predominantly 
female work force.  An undetermined number of Dominican women 
are victims of rings which smuggle Third World women to Europe 
to work as prostitutes in conditions rife with exploitation and 
mistreatment.  The Government periodically prosecutes organized 
alien smuggling rings (commonly on document falsification 
charges), but enforcement is hindered by corruption and 
reluctance to restrict the emigration of Dominicans.  

     Children

The Government's professed commitment to child welfare has not 
been supported by financial and intellectual resources.  
Despite the existence of government institutions dedicated to 
child welfare, the principal burden is carried by private 
social and religious organizations.  The most serious abuse 
involving children is the failure of the justice system to 
respect the status of minors in criminal cases.  Especially in 
narcotics cases, minors are sometimes treated as adults and 
incarcerated in prisons rather than juvenile detention 
centers.  In 1993 the media widely publicized several sexual 
abuse cases involving minors; however, the lack of statistics 
makes it difficult to determine if such crimes are increasing.  
According to local monitors, the incidence of child abuse is 
underreported owing to continuing societal reluctance to 
overcome traditional beliefs that family problems should be 
dealt with inside the family.  In 1993 sporadic instances of 
Haitian child labor on sugar plantations continued to occur 
(see Section 6.d.).  A new Minor's Code was approved by the 
lower chamber of the Congress but stalled and was not passed by 
the Senate.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Dominicans are strongly prejudiced against Haitians, many of 
whom are illegal immigrants, and who constitute a significant 
percentage of the unskilled manual labor force.  This often 
translates into discrimination against those with darker skin.  
The Government has not acknowledged the existence of this 
discrimination nor made any efforts to combat it.

Credible sources charge that a long-standing government 
practice is to obstruct the recognition of Haitians born in the 
Dominican Republic as Dominican citizens.  Lack of 
documentation also sometimes hinders the ability of children of 
Haitian descent to attend school; some parents fail to seek 
documentation for fear of themselves being deported.


     People with Disabilities

Disabled persons encounter discrimination in employment and the 
provision of other services.  Law No. 21-91, which took effect 
in September 1991, mandates certain provisions for physical 
access for the disabled for all new public and private 
buildings.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution provides for the freedom to organize labor 
unions and also for the rights of workers to strike and (and 
for private sector employers to lock out workers).  All 
workers, except military and police, are free to organize and 
workers in all sectors exercise this right.  The new Labor Code 
enacted in 1992 significantly strengthened the right of freedom 
of association and removed some restrictions on the right to 
strike by narrowing the definition of essential services to 
exclude transportation, food services, and fuel services.  
Requirements for calling for a strike include an absolute 
majority of the workers in the unit, a prior attempt to resolve 
the conflict through arbitration, written notification to the 
Labor Secretariat, and a 10-day waiting period following 
notification before proceeding with the strike.  The Code also 
eliminated previous prohibitions against political and sympathy 
strikes.  The Government respects association rights and places 
no obstacles to union registration, affiliations, or the 
ability to engage in legal strikes.

Strikes in 1993 occurred principally in the public sector, 
where doctors and nurses continued to stage periodic strikes 
and walkouts, and employees of state-owned companies staged 
strikes in response to financial difficulties and threats of 
job losses.  One work stoppage was declared illegal in 1993.

Implementing regulations for the 1992 Labor Code were issued in 
November 1993.  The Labor Code specifies in detail the steps 
legally required to establish a union, federation, and 
confederation.  The Code calls for automatic recognition of a 
union if the Government has not acted on its application within 
a specific time.  In practice, the Government has readily 
facilitated recognition of labor organizations.  Organized 
labor represents between 10 and 15 percent of the work force 
and is divided among three large confederations, three minor 
confederations, and a number of independent unions.  The 
International Labor Organization's (ILO) Committee of Experts 
(COE) observed in 1993 that the two-thirds majority vote 
required to form confederations was too high.

Unions are independent of the Government and political parties, 
although sympathizers of various political parties are found in 
most union organizations.  Labor unions can and do freely 
affiliate regionally and internationally.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Collective bargaining is lawful and may take place in firms in 
which a union has gained the support of an absolute majority of 
the workers.  Only a minority of companies have collective 
bargaining pacts.  The Labor Code expressly stipulates that 
workers cannot be dismissed because of their trade union 
membership or activities.  The previous Code allowed arbitrary 
termination of a worker so long as severance pay was provided; 
the 1992 Code exempts from dismissal specific numbers of union 
organizers and officials.  The number of union organizers or 
officials given protection from layoffs can total up to 20 
members of a union in formation, between 5 to 10 members of a 
union executive council (depending on the size of the work 
force), and up to 3 members of a collective bargaining 
negotiating committee.  The new Code established a new system 
of labor courts for dealing with labor disputes; but their 
effectiveness has yet to be determined.

There are 26 established export processing zones (EPZ's) with 
over 400, mostly U.S.-owned or associated, companies and about 
150,000 employees, mostly women workers.   The Labor Code 
applies in these zones.  Some EPZ companies have a history of 
discharging workers who attempt to organize unions.  Although 
the Government registered more than 50 unions in the EPZ's 
since the new Labor Code went into effect in June 1992, fewer 
than 5 of these unions still have their membership intact.  Of 
these, none was apparently able to function freely in the 
workplace.  The other unions apparently ceased to function due 
to firings of union members, although some may have dissolved 
because of voluntary resignations or company closure.  More 
than 20 EPZ firms face criminal charges brought by the 
Secretariat of Labor for Labor Code violations involving worker 
rights.  By year's end, two firms had been convicted of such 
violations.  No EPZ company has concluded a collective 
bargaining agreement with a union.


In June the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial 
Organizations filed a petition accusing the Government of 
failing to ensure EPZ companies' compliance with Labor Code 
provisions concerning freedom of association and the right to 
organize and bargain collectively.  The petition charged that 
EPZ companies continued to fire workers for attempting to 
organize unions and castigated the Dominican justice system for 
failing to issue timely decisions in cases brought before the 
courts.  A collateral charge was that a provision in Article 75 
of the Labor Code enabled de facto blacklisting of trade union 
members.  One such case brought under the old Labor Code in 
1992 is under appeal by the Secretary of Labor following a 
judicial ruling in favor of the employer.

The State Sugar Council (CEA) employs workers from over 100 
unions.  Dominican workers predominate in the unions, although 
between two and five unions are Haitian-dominated.  There have 
been some reports that the CEA has interfered with other 
efforts by Haitians to organize.

At year's end, no agreement had been reached in a 1990 dispute 
in which the administrator of the state-owned Dominican 
Electric Corporation (CDE) charged the CDE union (Sitracode) 
with sabotage, featherbedding, and corruption, and began 
massive firings of Sitracode leaders and activists which 
generated a complaint against the Dominican Republic in the 
ILO.  In December 1991, the Government agreed to a settlement 
calling for pensioning 75 percent of the fired workers and 
rehiring the remainder.  However, the Government refused to 
rehire Sitracode leaders, which the union thought had been part 
of the agreement.  The case remained before the ILO, which 
requested that the trade union leaders be reinstated.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by law.  During 
previous years, the Government and the CEA forcibly recruited 
Haitian seasonal agricultural workers and then restricted them 
to work on specific sugar plantations.  CEA denied the use of 
paid recruiters inside Haiti to obtain workers, and there is no 
conclusive evidence that either practice occurred to any 
significant degree in 1993.  However, Haitian workers continued 
to face other problems (see below).  Human rights groups 
alleged some instances of forced recruitment and forced labor 
of Haitians in the harvesting of other crops such as coffee and 
rice.  The extent of such abuses remained unclear, as these 
agricultural sectors were not traditionally subject to the 
scrutiny received by the sugar industry.


In 1993 itinerant Haitian sugar cane workers continued to 
encounter restrictions on their freedom of movement, but the 
restrictions were less onerous than in the past.  They included 
the presence of armed guards in and around various sugar 
plantations and the sequestering of workers' belongings in 
order to discourage their movement to other CEA plantations or 
other types of employment.  To alleviate freedom of movement 
problems faced by itinerant Haitian workers, CEA and the 
Dominican Office of Immigration in late 1991 initiated a 
program to issue 1-year temporary work permits to the workers.  
The Office of Immigration reported that 32,357 temporary work 
permits had been issued under this program.  Over half of the 
recipients were employed in private cane plantations or noncane 
cutting activities; 12,717 permits were issued to Haitians 
employed on CEA plantations.  There are no firm statistics on 
the number of cane cutters on CEA plantations; estimates range 
from 15,000 to 30,000.  According to an August 1993 survey by 
an independent polling firm, 50 percent of all itinerant 
Haitian workers possessed permits.  There are no figures 
available on the number of forcibly repatriated Haitian cane 
and coffee workers.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The Labor Code prohibits employment of youth under 14 years of 
age and places various restrictions on the employment of youth 
under age 16.  These restrictions include a limitation of no 
more than 6 hours of daily work, no employment in dangerous 
occupations or jobs involving the provision of intoxicating 
beverages, and limitations on nighttime work.

In practice, many of the child labor restrictions are ignored.  
The high level of unemployment and the lack of a social safety 
net create pressures on families to allow children to earn 
supplemental income.  A United Nations Children's Fund study 
estimated that approximately 58,000 minors work as itinerant 
vendors in occupations such as shining shoes, selling 
newspapers, and cleaning cars.  During the past few years, the 
Labor Secretariat made some effort to enforce the law in cases 
where companies employed underage workers, but penalties were 
largely limited to small fines.  Some young workers obtained 
work permits and continued their employment; those unable to 
obtain permits were dismissed.

Instances of child labor in CEA sugar plantations have 
diminished greatly.  Past abuses reportedly included the use of 
unaccompanied minors recruited from inside Haiti without 
parental knowledge.  CEA and the Labor Secretariat took steps 
to discourage child labor, and in 1993 it occurred in only 
isolated instances, most involving children accompanying their 
fathers into the fields.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Constitution gives the Government legal authority to set 
minimum wage levels and the Labor Code assigns this task to a 
national salary committee.  Congress may also enact minimum 
wage legislation.  Real wages, especially in the public sector, 
still suffered from a serious erosion caused by an 
unprecedented 1990 inflation rate of 101 percent.  Minimum wage 
raises since 1990 have not compensated for the loss of 
purchasing power, and no wage increases took place in 1993.  
The vast majority of workers receive only the minimum wage, 
which is about $61 (780 pesos) per month.  This represents only 
20 percent of the estimated monthly cost of living for an 
average-size family in Santo Domingo.  As a result, many people 
hold more than one job.

The Labor Code establishes a standard work period of 8 hours 
per day and 44 hours per week.  The Code also stipulates that 
all workers are entitled to 36 hours of uninterrupted rest each 
week.  In practice, a typical workweek is Monday through Friday 
plus a half day on Saturday, but longer hours are not unusual.  
The Code grants workers a 35 percent wage differential for work 
over 44 and up to 68 hours per week and a 100 percent 
differential for any hours above 68 per week.

Workplace safety and health conditions frequently do not meet 
legal standards.  Health standards for workers are set by the 
Dominican Social Security Institute (IDSS).  Nonhealth safety 
standards are covered by the Labor Code.  The existing social 
security system does not apply to all workers and is 
underfunded.  Furthermore, some employers charge workers for 
social security coverage but fail to pass the payments on to 
the IDSS.  As a result, benefits are low, payments often 
delayed, and medical care is limited and available only in the 
major cities.

Workplace regulations and their enforcement in the EPZ's do not 
differ from those in the country at large, although working 
conditions are typically better.  Some companies in privately 
owned EPZ's practice much higher worker safety and health 
standards.  Both the IDSS and the Labor Secretariat have small 
corps of inspectors charged with enforcing standards.  However, 
these posts are customarily filled through political patronage, 
and some inspectors have earned a reputation for corruption.  

Conditions for agricultural workers, particularly Haitians, are 
in general much worse, especially in the sugar industry.  
Although CEA readily cooperates with nongovernmental 
organizations active in efforts to improve the conditions of 
sugar cane workers, in some cases CEA and the Government have 
failed to take measures to implement written agreements 
designed to overcome the problems facing sugar cane workers.  
Cane cutters on CEA plantations are paid by weight of cut cane 
rather than hours worked and thus are usually required to work 
significantly more hours than the standard workweek in order to 
earn a wage approaching that of workers in other industries.  
CEA continued to pay cane cutters in vouchers rather than cash, 
a violation of the 1992 Labor Code's prohibition of payment in 
noncash forms.  Cane cutters also faced widespread cheating 
during the weighing of their cut cane.  Although CEA and the 
Labor Secretariat signed an agreement with labor unions to 
allow union officials to assist the Labor Secretariat in the 
inspection and monitoring of CEA weigh stations, no action was 
taken to implement this agreement.  Many Haitian worker 
villages continued to suffer high rates of disease and a lack 
of schooling, medical facilities, running water, and sewage 
systems.  


[end of document]

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