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TITLE:  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                       DOMINICAN REPUBLIC


The Constitution of the Dominican Republic provides for a 
popularly elected President and a bicameral Congress.  In 
practice, the system heavily favors the executive branch, 
headed by seven-term President Joaquin Balaguer.  The President 
appoints justices to the Supreme Court, which heads an only 
nominally independent judiciary.  International observers found 
significant irregularities in the May elections, including the 
disfranchisement of tens of thousands of voters.  Despite an 
inconclusive investigation of fraud charges, the Central 
Electoral Board declared incumbent President Balaguer the 
winner.  After lengthy negotiations between the parties and the 
candidates, it was agreed that President Balaguer would serve a 
reduced term of 18 months.  However, the Congress, controlled 
by Balaguer's party, set the next presidential elections for 
May 1996, providing him a 2-year term instead of the normal 4 
years.

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 Government controls all the security 
services, which are generally responsive to civilian executive 
branch authority.  However, some members of the security forces 
continued to commit human rights abuses, with the tacit 
acquiescence of the civil authorities.

Once heavily dependent on sugar, the economy has grown more 
diverse; tourism and export processing zones are now major 
sources of income and employment.  State-owned firms such as 
the State Sugar Council, the Consortium of State Enterprises, 
and the Dominican Electricity Corporation continue to be 
heavily involved in the economy, and the financial and 
administrative difficulties of these firms still impede 
economic growth.

Human rights problems included electoral disfranchisement, 
continuing instances of police killings of civilians, arbitrary 
detentions (particularly during the tense post-electoral 
period), beating of suspects, security services' refusal to 
obey judicial orders, judicial corruption, maladministration of 
the courts, and abuses against migrant workers.  Workers in the 
state-owned sugar plantations and mills continued to labor 
under deplorable conditions.  Workers in the country's export 
processing zones achieved some gains with the signing of 
collective contracts and other agreements.  Prostitution and 
domestic violence are also serious problems.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

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

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political killings.

Police and military personnel carried out extrajudicial 
killings which resulted in the death of at least half a dozen 
civilians.  Some killings occurred as a result of personal 
disputes but others clearly were the result of excessive force 
while in custody.  In July the authorities charged a police 
lieutenant colonel and three lieutenants with killing four 
persons arrested for robbery.  In September the colonel 
allegedly bribed the civilian judge to gain his freedom and 
fled the country.

Military courts try military personnel charged with 
extrajudicial killings.  Police personnel accused of such 
killings are subject to dismissal from the police force, and 
can be remanded to civilian courts for trial.  Police tribunals 
have on occasion tried, convicted, and sentenced personnel 
charged with extrajudicial killings.  In March a police 
tribunal sentenced a lieutenant to 2 years in prison for the 
"voluntary homicide of an individual."  In July a tribunal 
sentenced a police corporal to 5 months' imprisonment for the 
"fatal wounding" of another person.  Of the over 200 cases 
pending in the police tribunal at year's end, 39 percent 
involved "deliberate bullet wound", 15 percent involved death, 
and 13 percent were listed as "violence against persons."

     b.  Disappearance

In May a professor at the Autonomous University of Santo 
Domingo, Narciso Gonzalez, disappeared.  Police investigators 
verified the professor's last known whereabouts on May 26, and 
pursued numerous unfruitful leads but never determined what 
happened to him.  Many Dominicans, including the professor's 
close associates, believe that the Government ordered the 
professor's disappearance because of his accusations against 
members of the Government, including President Balaguer, in 
lectures and in a magazine article published near the time of 
his disappearance.  The case remained unresolved at year's end.

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

Although torture and other forms of physical abuse are illegal, 
security service personnel continued to abuse detainees.  The 
authorities usually order little or no punishment for 
perpetrators of such abuse.  Although punishment may range up 
to 5 years' incarceration for serious cases of abuse, as a rule 
the courts have given convicted officials sentences ranging 
from a 1-month suspension to 6 months in jail.  In September a 
police appeals tribunal upheld the conviction of a lieutenant 
colonel found guilty of heading a torture ring in police 
headquarters.  The court sentenced the officer to 2 years' 
imprisonment.

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 obtain sufficient food.  Medical care suffers from a 
lack of supplies.  In some instances, minors have been 
incarcerated in adult prisons (see Section 5).  The Commandant 
of La Victoria prison was dismissed in November, following a 
riot over prison conditions.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution stipulates that the authorities may detain 
suspects for a maximum of 48 hours for investigation before 
arraignment, after which they must charge or release them.  
However, in special circumstances, the authorities may detain 
suspects for longer periods with the approval of the 
prosecutor's office.  Security services routinely violated 
constitutional provisions by detaining witnesses as well as 
suspects for "investigation" or "interrogation" beyond the 
prescribed 48-hour limit.  Civil authorities' efforts to 
address these widespread abuses have not yet produced any 
results.

Military officers occasionally violated legal provisions 
against military detention of civilians.  The DNCD and National 
Police continued to engage in indiscriminate roundups of people 
in poorer neighborhoods.  In September, for example, police 
detained more than 200 persons in one roundup in the country's 
capital.  They released most detainees after several hours in 
custody.  The security services also occasionally detain 
relatives of suspected criminals with the aim of coercing 
suspects to surrender.  Civil authorities have taken no action 
to curb these widespread abuses.

The authorities detained hundreds of persons, among them 
supporters of the leading opposition party, members of other 
antigovernment groups, and journalists, in the period following 
the May elections.  In some cases, they carried out these 
detentions ostensibly to foil possible violent demonstrations.  
Various organizations had called for strikes and demonstrations 
to demand annulment of the May elections and to call for new 
elections.  They also asked that the authorities produce 
missing university professor Gonzalez (see Section l.b.).

While the law does not prohibit exile, there are no known 
current cases of Dominican citizens in forced exile.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Although the Constitution stipulates an independent judiciary, 
in practice interference from public and private entities, 
including the executive branch, substantially undermines 
judicial independence.  The President appoints justices to the 
Supreme Court, and the Senate appoints justices to all other 
courts with the exception of military and police tribunals.  
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.  Senators customarily 
nominate judges on political grounds rather than for their 
competence as jurists.  A number of corrupt and incompetent 
prosecutors and judges also undermine the system.  Furthermore, 
the judicial authorities are ineffectual in the administrative 
supervision of judges and prosecutors.  A 1994 constitutional 
reform gave the judiciary a fixed percentage of the national  
budget, thereby diminishing legislative control, and created a 
National Judicial Council which is to begin naming judges after 
passage of the judicial career law.

The Constitution provides for public trial.  Statutes provide 
for public defenders in all criminal cases, but the number 
employed is insufficient.  The courts normally appoint lawyers 
or law students at public expense to defend indigents in felony 
criminal cases, but only as available in misdemeanor cases.  
Chronic delays plagued the judicial process; of the penal 
system's approximately 11,000 detainees, the courts have tried 
and convicted only about 10 percent.  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.

More than 250 persons, among them more than 50 persons without 
official charges against them, remained incarcerated in Santo 
Domingo's La Victoria prison despite having judicial orders for 
their release, according to a group of human rights monitors.  
These prisoners have been in custody for periods ranging from 
1 month to more than 5 years.  Minors constitute more than half 
the group.  The Attorney General for Santo Domingo called for 
the release of these prisoners.  However, the National Police 
and the DNCD persisted in their refusals to release some 
prisoners and detainees who had been granted judicial release 
orders, alleging judicial corruption and the seriousness of the 
alleged crimes as justification for this noncompliance.  No 
higher authority has taken action to force the prison 
authorities to comply with the release orders.

The judicial system provides for bail.  However, cases in which 
bail is posted rarely come to trial, circumventing the intended 
purpose of bail.

Military or police courts have jurisdiction over members of the 
armed forces and police, but a military or police board 
frequently remands cases to civilian courts after review.

There is no evidence that the Government holds political 
prisoners.

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

The Government does not arbitrarily interfere with the private 
lives of persons or families and generally observes 
constitutional provisions against invasion of the home.  The 
authorities may not search a residence except in the presence 
of a prosecutor or an assistant prosecutor, in instances of 
"hot pursuit," or when there is probable cause to believe that 
a crime is in progress.  During the 1994 electoral campaign and 
the post-electoral crisis, there were numerous credible 
allegations of widescale interception of telephone 
conversations and surveillance of individuals which may have 
involved the Government as well as political parties.  In 
addition, opposition politicians charged that government raids 
on their homes, ostensibly to search for firearms, were 
politically motivated.  They also charged that the security 
service officials who rounded up many of the detainees 
mentioned in Section 1.d. employed illegal raids on their homes 
to capture them.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The law provides for these freedoms and the Government 
generally respected them in practice.  However, there were 
instances in which the authorities abused these rights.

Dominicans of most political persuasions exercise freedom of 
speech, but a 1971 law prohibits foreign language broadcasts.  
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, they practice a certain amount 
of self-censorship for fear of retaliation ranging from loss of 
influence to loss of a job.  Soon after the May elections, the 
Foreign Ministry issued a note warning the authorities would 
take action accordingly against journalists deemed to have 
violated national security.  Economic considerations also 
inhibit free expression, as powerful economic consortiums or 
wealthy, influential families own all the principal media 
outlets.  Some journalists solicit, or are responsive to, 
bribes in order to generate reports.

In July the executive committee of the College of Dominican 
Journalists denounced police infringement of activities by 
journalists during the postelectoral period.  During the 
ensuing months, the authorities temporarily jailed a number of 
journalists, beat some, and damaged their equipment.

Public and private universities enjoy broad academic freedom. 
The Government exerts no control over private universities 
except for the preservation of standards, and teachers appear 
to be free to voice their own theories without government 
oversight.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for these freedoms, which the 
Government generally respects in practice.  The Government 
requires permits for outdoor public marches and meetings, and 
the authorities usually granted them.  However, in the 
postelectoral period, the authorities preempted antigovernment 
demonstrations by illegally detaining organizers.

Political parties freely affiliate with their foreign 
counterpart organizations.  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 does not interfere with the free practice of 
religion.

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

Citizens face no unusual legal restrictions on travel within or 
outside the country.

In 1994 the authorities forcibly repatriated between several 
hundred to a few thousand Haitians believed to be in the 
country illegally, according to various sources.  Some of these 
were legal resident Haitians and persons of Haitian ancestry 
who may have claims to Dominican citizenship.  The authorities 
did not allow the Haitians opportunity to establish their 
possible claims to legal residence.   Although somewhat 
diminished in comparison with earlier years (see Section 6.c.), 
there was continued forced recruitment and detention of 
Haitians to work on sugar plantations.

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 Haitian UNHCR wards in 
1991, only 10 percent have been granted such status thus far.

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

Citizens have the constitutional right to change their 
government in free and fair elections, but there were 
allegations of a level of fraud in the national elections which 
effectively infringed this right.  Although people voted in 
record numbers in the May 16 elections, international observers 
identified significant irregularities, including the 
disfranchisement of tens of thousands of voters (primarily 
supporters of the leading opposition party), evidence of double 
voting, and voting by ineligible persons.  An investigation 
commission appointed by the Central Electoral Board (an 
independent body appointed by the Senate with the approval of 
the major parties) largely confirmed the irregularities, noting 
that they placed in dispute a number of votes potentially 
larger than the margin of victory.  Despite the irregularities, 
the Central Electoral Board declared incumbent President 
Joaquin Balaguer the winner by 22,000 votes.

The Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), led by presidential 
candidate Jose Francisco Pena Gomez, strongly resisted this 
decision, considering it an attempt to steal the election.  
Faced with an explosive political crisis, President Balaguer 
negotiated a political agreement with Pena Gomez, leaders of 
the next largest party, the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), 
and other political and civil figures.  The agreement included 
several constitutional reforms, most notably shortening 
Balaguer's new term to 18 months (meaning elections in November 
1995) as well as prohibition of presidential reelection.  In 
accordance with this pact, Congress ratified the Central 
Electoral Board's decision.  However, the Congress, dominated 
by Balaguer's party, set the next presidential elections for 
May 1996, providing Balaguer a 2-year term.  After boycotting 
the new Congress for a month in protest, the opposition 
legislators took their seats based on a promise of future 
political considerations.

The Constitution calls for the President and all 150 members of 
the Senate and Chamber of Deputies to be elected every 4 years. 
Elections are by secret ballot with universal suffrage for 
citizens age 18 and above (except for active duty military and 
police, who may not vote).  The President appoints the 
governors of the 29 provinces.

Although the nation has a functioning multiparty system, in 
practice the President dominates public policy formulation and 
implementation.  He exercises 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.  
The governing Reformed Christian Socialist Party (PRSC) has a 
2-vote working majority in the 30-seat Senate when it combines 
its 14 votes with 1 vote from the PLD and 1 vote from the 
Democratic Union.  Similarly, in coalition with the PLD, it has 
a working plurality in the Chamber of Deputies.  Four Senate 
races and eight deputy races were close enough that they may 
have been affected by the election irregularities in favor of 
the ruling PRSC.

Women and minorities confront no legal or practical impediments 
to political participation.  Women hold 8 of the country's 29 
appointed governorships, 5 cabinet-level executive branch 
positions, 14 seats in the 120-member House of Deputies, and 
1 seat in the Senate.

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 (CDH), several other Haitian, church, 
and labor groups exist.  The Government has been slow to 
acknowledge criticism and requests for information from some 
international human rights organizations.  It has not responded 
to criticisms leveled by the U.N. Human Rights Commission in 
1993 regarding treatment of Haitian refugees.

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

The law prohibits discrimination based on race or sex.  Such 
discrimination exists in society, but the Government has not 
acknowledged its existence or made efforts to combat it.

     Women

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.  Either spouse can easily obtain a divorce, and 
women can hold property in their own names apart from their 
husbands.  Congress did not act on legislative proposals 
introduced in 1993 to modify women's status under the Civil and 
Penal Code.

Domestic violence and sexual harassment are widespread.  
According to one report, approximately 7,000 rapes occur 
annually, but victims report only 1,500 to the police.  Spousal 
abuse itself is not a crime, and is rarely reported.

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 does not 
vigorously enforce prostitution laws, but does periodically 
prosecute organized alien smuggling rings.  Corruption and a 
reluctance to restrict emigration hinder enforcement of the law.

     Children

The Government has not supported its professed commitment to 
child welfare with financial or human resources.  Despite the 
existence of government institutions dedicated to child 
welfare, private social and religious organizations carry the 
principal burden.  The most serious abuse involving children is 
the failure of the justice system to respect the status of 
minors in criminal cases; there are more than 150 minors in the 
country's main prison.  Especially in narcotics cases, the 
authorities sometimes treat minors as adults and incarcerate 
them in prisons rather than juvenile detention centers.

According to local human rights monitors, the incidence of 
child abuse is underreported because of traditional beliefs 
that family problems should be handled within the family.  
Sporadic instances of Haitian child labor on sugar plantations 
continued to occur (see Section 6.d.).  A new Minor's Code went 
into effect on January 1, 1995.  The Code contains provisions 
against child abuse, including physical and emotional 
mistreatment, sexual exploitation, and child labor.  It also 
provides for removal of a mistreated or delinquent child to a 
protective environment.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Dominicans are strongly prejudiced against Haitians, who 
constitute a significant percentage of the unskilled manual 
labor force.  This often translates into discrimination against 
those with darker skin.  In election campaigning, President 
Balaguer's PRSC sought to undermine PRD candidate Pena Gomez by 
characterizing the latter's dark skin as a Haitian attribute.  
The Government does not acknowledge the existence of this 
discrimination nor make any efforts to combat it.  Dark-skinned 
Dominicans also face strong informal barriers to social and 
economic advancement.

Credible sources charge that the Government continues to refuse 
to recognize individuals of Haitian ancestry born in the 
country as Dominican citizens, as it has for many years.  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 being deported.

     People with Disabilities

Disabled persons encounter discrimination in employment and the 
provision of other services.  Although a September 1991 law 
mandates certain provisions for physical access for the 
disabled for all new public and private buildings, the 
authorities have not enforced it.

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 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.  Requirements for calling a 
strike include the support of an absolute majority of the 
workers of the company, 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 1992 Labor 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.  The Government has not 
established an adequate court system to enforce the Labor Code.

A number of strikes occurred in 1994, principally in the public 
sector.  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 Committee of Experts considers the two-thirds 
majority vote required to form confederations is too high.

Unions are independent of the Government and political 
parties.  Labor unions can and do freely affiliate regionally 
and internationally.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Although 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 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 and 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.  The new 
courts are located in the two jurisdictions with the most labor 
activity, but the juridical problems which the courts were 
established to address still prevail in the rest of the 
country.  Violations of freedom of association, the minimum 
wage, and overtime pay continue.

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.  The CEA 
tolerates existing unions but has steadily resisted additional 
union organizing activity.

The Labor Code applies in the 26 established export processing 
zones (EPZ's) comprised of over 400, mostly U.S.-owned or 
associated, companies employing more than 170,000 workers, 
mostly women.  In 1994 four EPZ companies concluded collective 
bargaining agreements with unions.  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 1992, fewer 
than 10 of these unions still have their membership intact.  
Some unions apparently ceased to function due to firings of 
union members, while others may have dissolved because of 
voluntary resignations or company closure.  The Secretariat of 
Labor has brought criminal charges against 55 EPZ firms for 
Labor Code violations involving worker rights.  The courts 
found in favor of management in the majority of cases 
concluded.  The unions won two cases.  A number of cases were 
under appeal and others still pending at year's end.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor.  During previous 
years, the Government and the CEA forcibly recruited Haitian 
seasonal agricultural workers and then restricted them to 
specific sugar plantations.  The 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 1994.  There are no firm statistics on 
the number of cane cutters on CEA plantations; most estimates 
place the number at around 30,000.  The CDH reported an 
instance where recruiters contracted approximately 500 Haitians 
under false pretenses to work at the Rio Haina Sugar Mill.  As 
this year's harvest in the southern half of the country began, 
the Ministry of Labor estimated that the percentage of migrant 
workers would drop to between 20 and 30 percent of the workers.

Haitian sugar cane workers continued to encounter restrictions 
on their freedom of movement, but there were fewer reported 
instances 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.  The government program to document temporary 
workers begun in 1992 has been extended to approximately 50 
percent of all itinerant Haitian workers.  Haitians' right to 
work is thus documented, but a contractual obligation is also 
imposed for workers to remain in a specific area for the 
duration of the work contract.  Many Haitians do not understand 
the contractual process, and work conditions tantamount to 
indentured servitude prevail.  The CEA and the Dominican Office 
of Immigration initiated a program in late 1991 to issue 1-year 
temporary work permits to the workers.  According to a 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, but the authorities continued to force 
repatriations at will, depending upon the demand for labor.

     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, children remain at risk of exploitation since the 
Government does not enforce many of the child labor 
restrictions.  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; employers dismissed those unable to 
obtain permits.  Numerous minors perform unregulated work as 
itinerant vendors shining shoes, selling newspapers, and 
cleaning cars.

The CEA and the Labor Secretariat took steps to discourage 
child labor in CEA sugar plantations, and 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.  Minimum wage raises have not compensated for 
the loss of purchasing power, and scheduled wage increases in 
1994 only provided partial relief.  Most workers receive only 
the minimum wage, which averages around $90 per month (xxx 
pesos) depending on the sector and employer size.  The minimum 
wage 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.  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 hours per week.

Workplace safety and health conditions frequently do not meet 
legal standards, which the Dominican Social Security Institute 
(IDSS) and the Labor Code establish.  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.  In practice, workers 
cannot remove themselves from workplace situations without 
jeopardy to continued employment.

Conditions for agricultural workers, particularly Haitians, are 
in general much worse, especially in the sugar industry.  
Although the CEA readily cooperates with nongovernmental 
organizations active in efforts to improve the conditions of 
sugar cane workers, in some cases the 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 they must work significantly 
more hours than the standard workweek in order to earn a wage 
approaching that of workers in other industries.  The CEA 
continued to violate the Labor Code's prohibition of payment in 
noncash forms by paying field workers in vouchers.  Cane 
cutters also faced widespread cheating during the weighing of 
their cut cane.  Although the 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, they took no action to 
implement this agreement.  Many worker villages which are 
predominantly inhabited by Haitians continue to suffer high 
rates of disease and a lack of education and medical 
facilities, running water, and sewage systems.


(###)


[end of document]

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