Recently, the Dominican National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) released a new report that found over 80% of the inmates in Dominican prisons are preventive prisoners and there had been “no improvements” to the country’s prevention detention crisis.

The new findings by CDNH, first reported by Listin Diario, reveals a “deterioration in prison conditions” with a 12,000-inmate capacity are holding almost 26,000 currently, with “about 13,000″ living in “overcrowding and inhuman conditions.”

CNDH has urged the Dominican government “to adopt clear measures” to address this deepening crisis and to “decongest” prisons.

United Nations Condemns Top Public Ministry Officials

The United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) released an explosive report that documented significant human rights violations by the Abinader government, particularly against former Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez Sanchez.

The WGAD report revealed that the Dominican Republic’s top prosecutorial duo, Yeni Berenice and Wilson Camacho, in their capacity as the heads of the Special Prosecutor’s Office for the Prosecution of Administrative Corruption (PEPCA), “orchestrated” a “public discredit campaign” and “systematically interrupted” the right to a defense.

Dominican Justice Initiative sent a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.) Linda Thomas-Greenfield urging follow through by the Biden Administration on the U.N.’s condemnation the actions of the Dominican government. The letter states, “according to public records and reports in the Dominican Republic’s media, Ms. Berenice Reynoso has carried out identical or similar actions detailed in the WGAD decision against dozens of other individuals in other cases.”

International Legal Peril Increasing for Berenice & Camacho?

In paragraphs 98 to 110 of the WGAD opinion, there is a detailed retelling of how Berenice and Camacho systematically violated the presumption of innocence and used multiple tactics to prolong arbitrary detention without legal justification in the Rodríguez Sánchez case. Denial of due process and a fair trial while depriving people of their liberty is not only protected by UN human rights provisions but also multiple sections of Article 8 of the American Convention on Human Rights.

Wrongful Detention of U.S. Nationals by Abinader Government

Despite calls from Congressional leaders to determine how many Americans are being wrongfully detained by the Dominican government and to investigate DOJ funding of programs that are unlawfully detaining Americans, the Biden Administration’s “double standard” persists, and a blind eye is turned with the Dominican Republic.

In a recent letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul raised deep concerns around the fact that the Americans – both citizens and lawful permanent residents – have been caught up in the preventive detention crisis. Chairman McCaul expressed alarm that the State Department “does not have a complete accounting of the number of Americans that are currently imprisoned in the country.”

Chairman McCaul’s concerns were echoed by U.S. Representative Troy Nehls in a letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, questioning whether U.S. tax dollars were being used to wrongfully detain U.S. nationals in the Dominican Republic. Representative Nehls was rightly concerned that taxpayer funds are “being used to unreasonably deny the due process rights of American citizens and legal residents living outside the U.S.”

In a recent opinion editorial in the influential Daily Signal, Steven Bucci – a former Army Special Forces officer and Pentagon official – criticized the Biden Administration’s selective application of its commitments to bring home “every wrongfully detained American” as the preventive detention crisis in the Dominican Republic writing that “In 2022, President Joe Biden issued an executive order declaring a national emergency that ‘the wrongful detention of United States nationals abroad constitute[s] an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.’”

The executive order charges Secretary Blinken and the State Department to designate or identify officials of foreign governments “who are involved, directly or indirectly, in wrongful detention,” however, the Biden Administration does not seem to be taking its own “national emergency” seriously as no such list exists even a year after the order was issued.

The Dominican Republic, according to Bucci, “should be at the top of any list” for its decades-long preventive detention crisis. “According to the executive order, the Secretary of State should be working to ‘secure the release of those held as hostages or wrongfully detained,’ whether they are citizens or lawful permanent residents” he adds, but there is currently no accounting from the Biden Administration to determine how many U.S. nationals are being held in the Dominican Republic.