Dominican Republic

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 2021

Gender-based violence remained common. Lawmakers failed to pass a revised Criminal Code that would decriminalize abortion and provide protections against violence, torture and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. The authorities extended access to Covid-19 vaccines to Dominicans of Haitian descent and migrants, who were previously excluded.

Gender-based violence

Between January and September, 111 women were killed, 61 of whom were victims of femicides, according to preliminary statistics published by the General Prosecutor’s Office. Between January and October, the same office reported having received over 63,000 reports of gender-based and intra-family violence and more than 6,300 reports of sexual offences. The authorities continued to fail to develop a national protocol for the investigation of torture, in line with the Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Istanbul Protocol). This was despite evidence presented to the authorities in 2019 that the police routinely raped, beat and humiliated cisgender and transgender women engaged in sex work in acts that may amount to torture or other ill-treatment.

Sexual and reproductive rights

The Dominican Republic remained one of the few countries in the region that continued to criminalize girls or women who sought to terminate a pregnancy. This total ban on abortion continued to cause the deaths of women and girls.

In March, hundreds of human rights activists camped outside the National Palace demanding that Congress vote in favour of decriminalizing abortion on three grounds – when the pregnancy poses a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or girl, when the fetus cannot survive outside the uterus, and when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.1 However, in June, the Chamber of Deputies voted against decriminalization on the three grounds, risking the life and health of thousands of girls and women.2

In December, Congress again failed to pass a revised Criminal Code that decriminalizes abortion and provides protections against torture, violence and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Legislators also failed to pass comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation which had been demanded by civil society organizations for almost a decade.

Arbitrary deprivation of nationality

Thousands of people born to foreign parents who were registered as Dominicans at birth but later unrecognized as nationals, remained unable to obtain Dominican identity documents, which continued to leave them stateless.

In February, President Luis Abinader announced Covid-19 vaccination plans that would have left many Dominicans of Haitian descent and migrants without access to vaccines.3 However, following advocacy from civil society actors, Dominican authorities extended the vaccination programme to all residents.


  1. Dominican Republic: Chamber of Deputies puts life and health of millions of women and girls at risk”, 30 June
  2. Dominican Republic: Threat to Sexual and Reproductive Rights (Index: AMR 27/4778/2021), 24 September
  3. Vaccines in the Americas: Ten Human Rights Musts to Ensure Health for All (Index: AMR 01/3797/2021), 25 March