The United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review of the Dominican Republic

Subtitle: 
justice and Peace
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It was a privilege to have with us Mrs. Laurence Blattmer and Fr. Leobardo Almazán, O.P. who, along with Fr. Mike Deeb, O.P. are members of the Delegation of the Order at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, better known as Dominicans for Justice and Peace (Order of Preachers). Thanks to our excellent facilitators, we enjoyed a workshop where friars, sisters, and lay Dominicans, as well as other civil society actors learnt about the UN Human Rights mechanisms and especially about the so-called “Universal Periodic Review” (UPR), which will evaluate the Dominican Republic (DR) in the year 2019. Our facilitators sought to provide us with the necessary tools to prepare a parallel report on the situation of Human Rights (HR) in the country.

Our 36 participants were from Vallejuelo, Santiago de los Caballeros, Comedero Arriba from Fantino, Monte Plata, Baní, Santo Domingo and El Seybo. They belong to various organizations, such as the Antonio Montesino Center (CEAM, for its acronym in Spanish), Acción Verapaz, Ciudad Alternativa, Cocoa Growers Perpetual Socorro Association, Radio Seybo, Seed of Life Training Center, La Merced Foundation, El Rosario School, etc.

The workshop took place from April 6 to 8 at the Retreat House of the Daughters of Mary, located in the neighborhood of La Higuera, Province of El Seybo.

The workshop’s three proposed and achieved objectives were:

- The UN instruments in Geneva were presented; the obligations of the DR’s government regarding the defense and promotion of HR were analyzed; and ways to create a report on the HR situation in the DR were analyzed.

- Information was collected from each participant and each region, grouping it into four main areas of concern: rights of children and adolescents, right to health, right to adequate housing, and corruption and impunity. This valuable information will become the backbone of the draft that will eventually become a final parallel report, which will be presented before the UPR to the corresponding authorities at the UN.

- A remaining task is to encourage civil society actors and the Dominican Family to work in harmony in the struggle to promote and defend HR in the DR.

It should be noted that Laurence and Leo met with the families evicted by the Central Romana, showing them their support and encouragement to continue in the struggle to restore their violated dignity. They also participated in a colloquium-interview on Radio Seybo. Further, they held meetings with Juan Carlos Monge, Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, with whom they discussed the violations inflicted by Central Romana and the UPR process. Furthermore, they met with Raddys Abreu, Ambassador and Human Rights Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Danissa Cruz, Procurator of Human Rights at the Attorney General's Office, with whom they talked about the UPR and the National Plan for Human Rights.

On the afternoon of April 10th they participated in a panel called, “The United Nations Listen to our Denunciations,” which took place in the Santo Domingo de Guzmán Theology Center and was co-sponsored by the Extracurricular Chair “Society and Justice” of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD). Besides Laurence and Leo, Prof. Celedonio Martínez was with us and Fr. Damián Calvo, O.P., served as moderator of the panel.

May these lines be an adequate vehicle to thank Laurence, Fr. Leo, and Fr. Mike for their great effort, dedication and affection, which made their visit such a success. This experience has opened a channel of vital solidarity and collaboration among us, especially regarding our common struggle to defend human dignity and human rights in the DR.

 

Fr. Miguel Ángel Gullón Pérez, O.P.