The Dominican authorities widely used the preventive detentions. Such actions were targeted against both the political opponents and suspected. In the Dominican Republic the detention was used following the political aims. The Inter – American Commission states that “the legal situation of the individual in preventive detention is highly imprecise: there is an aura of suspicion against that person, although it has not yet been possible to establish his or her guilt.
Persons in custody under such circumstances usually suffer greatly as a result of the loss of income and forced separation from their families and communities. Emphasis should also be placed on the psychological and emotional impact to which they are exposed so long as that situation persists” (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 1999). Such actions as unlawful detentions have also political and social meanings. Their aim is to suppress any democratic movements which could be opposed to the government official course. They bring fear and instability to the society.
People are not able to protect their rights under the threat of being arrested preventively. A lot of cases of the human rights violation relate to the poor condition of the Dominican penal system. The prisons are overpopulated. There are both objective and subjective reasons of such overpopulation. The lack of appropriate budget and economic situation in the country do not benefit the conditions of the Dominican prisons but at the same time the majority of the inmates in Dominican prisons are those who are under preventive arrest.
Apart from the penal system there are a number of human rights violations connected with the Dominican – Haitian relations. Such violations are based on the principles of international and interracial hostility blamed by the world community. The Dominican – Haitian relations have long history which is the history of mutual confrontation and hostility. Sharing the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic and Haiti have never been the happiest of neighbors. With a history marked by mutual antagonism and conflict, the two populations have long viewed each other with wary eyes.
Even now, with relatively warm relations between their governments, Dominicans and Haitians have yet to overcome this legacy of hostility and mistrust. (Human Rights Watch, 2006) The Dominican – Haitian relations have been built on the fear of mass immigration of poor Haitians to the relatively economically successful Dominican Republic. The economy of the Dominican Republic is highly dependable upon the Haitian labor mainly in sugar and construction industry. The Haitian workforce is very cheap in the Dominican Republic.
The historical background of the Dominican – Haitian relations does not benefit the normal neighbor relations establishing. The anti-colonial movement of both countries ended with the independence of both followed by the Haitian - Dominican War. The attitude towards Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic could be characterized as nothing but paranoia. This hostility towards Haiti and its citizens is heated by the official media and school programs. The Dominicans keep perceiving Haiti as a threat to the territorial integrity of the country.
Beginning in 1952, Haiti and the Dominican Republic entered into a series of bilateral agreements to ensure the continued supply of seasonal cane cutters from Haiti to the Dominican sugar cane fields. To manage the sugar mills and the contracting of Haitian labor, the Dominican government ultimately created the State Sugar Council (Consejo Estatal del Azucar, or CEA). It was the job of the CEA to recruit, by force if need be, the necessary cane cutters for each harvest.
But at the same time, in a seemingly schizophrenic policy toward Haitians, the Dominican authorities also began engaging in large-scale summary deportations. These deportation operations targeted seasonal workers, expelling Haitians from the country at the end of the sugar harvest. (Human Rights Watch, 2006) Racial prejudices against the Haitians emerged during the wars for independence are very strong in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican nationalists have constructed the Dominican identity which was collective solidarity against the Haitian threat.
The idea of the Haitian threat was erroneously chosen as an idea consolidating the nation. The nationalists used the cultural and slight racial difference to distance from Haiti. General Rafael Trujillo, the Dominican dictator who assumed power in the wake of the U. S. occupation, flaunted his racism, making it clear that he considered Haitians to be inferior. In 1937, in a brutal abuse of power, he ordered the army to massacre all Haitians found outside sugar plantations.
Casualty estimates vary, but even the most conservative accounts acknowledge that thousands of Haitians were slaughtered (Human Rights Watch, 2006). It is naturally that the position of the Haitian population in the Dominican Republic and the basic human rights are incompatible. The hostility towards Haitians is observed on each level of the social life of the Dominican Republic and is heated by the authorities. Such attitude is difficult to explain taking into consideration that the Dominican economy as it was stated above is highly dependable upon the Haitian workforce.