In a March 31 opinion article in The Hill, Mario H. Lopez, President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, criticized the Biden Administration for conducting a “policy of selective outrage” regarding “governments that routinely violate human rights” and said it is time to “break the silence on the Dominican Republic’s human rights record.”

Lopez expressed his frustration with President Joe Biden being “mute” on “the practice of arbitrary arrests and the regular imprisonment of people held without charge” in the DR, that “such silence from Washington can only encourage human rights abusers”. He called upon the Dominican Republic’s government to “face concerted pressure to clean up its act.

The prison population in the Dominican Republic is above 200 percent capacity, resulting in generally deplorable conditions” Lopez added, noting that “more than 80 percent of prisoners are held under preventive detention orders” which is “the practice of arresting and locking people up without ever being charged.

Lopez noted that despite mounting evidence of human rights abuses, the Biden administration “rolled out a red carpet for an Oval Office visit by Dominican President Luis Abinader last November.” This occurred despite the U.S State Department having issued a travel warning about “darker-skinned U.S. citizens and U.S. citizens of African descent being wrongfully detained by Dominican authorities.

Human rights organizations such as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention publicly condemned the “Dominican Republic’s Public Ministry for violating international human rights prohibitions against arbitrary arrest,” specifically pointing out “prosecutors whom Abinader appointed, but his government refuses to address it,” Lopez wrote.

To read the full text of Mario H. Lopez’s opinion article in The Hill, click here.