DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – COUNTRY REPORT
Child population: 3,781,000 (UNICEF, 2009)
Summary of necessary legal reform to achieve full prohibition
Settings where explicit prohibition is necessary
home, alternative care settings
Is there a legal defence for corporal punishment which must be repealed?
We have been unable to establish whether or not written law confirms a “right” of parents to inflict
“reasonable” or “moderate” punishment on their children, but legal provisions against violence and
abuse are not interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment. The near universal acceptance of a
certain degree of violence in childrearing necessitates clarity in law that no degree or type of corporal
punishment is acceptable or lawful. Explicit prohibition of all corporal punishment, however light,
should be enacted, together with the repeal of any legal defences for its use.
Other legislative measures necessary
Alternative care – Explicit prohibition should be enacted in legislation applicable to all forms of
alternative care, including public and private day care, residential institutions, foster care, etc.
DETAILED COUNTRY REPORT
Legality of corporal punishment
Corporal punishment is lawful in the home. Provisions against violence and abuse in the Code for the
System of Protection of the Fundamental Rights of Children and Adolescents (2003), the Law Against
Domestic Violence (1997), the Constitution (2002), the Criminal Code (2007) and the Code of
Criminal Procedure (2002) are not interpreted as prohibiting corporal punishment in childrearing.
Corporal punishment is unlawful in schools under the Education Act (1997, amended 2007) and the
Code for the System of Protection of the Fundamental Rights of Children and Adolescents (articles 48
Corporal punishment is unlawful as a sentence for crime. Article 8 of the Constitution prohibits
punishment which violates physical integrity, and in article 303 of the Criminal Code corporal
punishment is among the acts defined as torture or acts of barbarity, punished with imprisonment.
Article 1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (2002) states that the courts shall give precedence to the
Constitution and to international treaties in applying the law, and article 10 protects the dignity of the
person and prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. There are similar provisions in the Code
for the System of Protection of the Fundamental Rights of Children and Adolescents (articles 12 and
246) and the Code does not include corporal punishment among permitted sanctions.
Corporal punishment is unlawful as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions under article 349 of
the Code for the System of Protection of the Fundamental Rights of Children and Adolescents, which
states that in the implementation and enforcement of sanctions, no young person should be subjected to
corporal punishment. Article 384 states that the internal regulations of penal institutions should comply
with the Code.
There is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in all forms of alternative care.
According to statistics from UNICEF on violence in the family, 83% of children aged 2-14
experienced physical punishment and/or psychological aggression in 2005-2006: 45% experienced
physical punishment and psychological aggression, 27% experienced psychological aggression only
and 12% experienced physical punishment only. In total, 57% of children experienced physical
punishment, while only 9% of mothers and caregivers believe that physical punishment is necessary in
childrearing. Of girls and women aged 15-49, 9% think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating
his wife under certain circumstances. (UNICEF (2009), Progress for Children: A report card on child
protection, NY: UNICEF)
Recommendations by human rights treaty bodies
Committee on the Rights of the Child
(11 February 2008, CRC/C/DOM/CO/2, Concluding observations on second report, paras. 45 and 46)
“The Committee notes the clear definition of physical abuse established in Law No. 136-03 and
welcomes that corporal punishment has been made unlawful in schools and abolished as a sentence in
the justice system. The Committee is concerned that no explicit prohibition for corporal punishment
exists for all other settings, including in the educational setting, in institutions of alternative care and in
the family environment.
“The Committee recommends that the State party explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in all
settings by law as a matter of priority and provide training for parents and all professionals involved
with children on alternative forms of discipline, in line with the Committee’s general comment No. 8
(2006) on the right of the child to protection from corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading
forms of punishment (CRC/C/GC/8).”
Universal Periodic Review
The Dominican Republic was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2009.
The Government accepted the recommendations to prohibit all corporal punishment of children (4
January 2010, A/HRC/13/3, Report of the Working Group, para. 87(14)). Examination in the second
cycle is scheduled for 2014.
Report prepared by the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children