A legal opinion recently made public from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) detailed how prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso and others in the Dominican government violated the human rights of former Attorney General Jean Rodríguez Sánchez.
The U.N. body concluded that Rodríguez Sanchez’s prolonged detention without charge, the systematic interruption of his right to a defense and a fair, impartial trial, and public campaigns orchestrated out of Berenice’s office to discredit him during an investigation amounted to violations of Articles 3, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Articles 2, 9, 10 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Human Rights (ICCHR).
In fact, the Rodríguez Sánchez case is just the tip of the iceberg. According to public records and extensive media reports, Berenice has done the same things detailed in the U.N. report to at least two dozen other individuals in other cases who were arrested and given lengthy detentions without charges or legal justification, systematically denied their rights to a defense and subjected to public campaigns of discredit without trial, among other violations.
The violations go beyond the two binding international agreements that the UNWGAD cited. A deep dive reveals the same actions were clear violations of the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR), which is enforced by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR).
With the long list of cases and multiple binding jurisdictions, Berenice and her collaborators could be facing serious legal peril in various jurisdictions for documented human rights violations.
THE DEEP DIVE
The UNWGAD opinion points to serious violations of international law that Berenice and the Foreign Ministry of the DR publicly conceded are legally binding.
- “Arbitrary deprivation of liberty when it is manifestly impossible to invoke any legal basis that justifies it.”
In paragraphs 88 to 97 of the UNWGAD opinion, the legal experts determined that Berenice violated Article 9 of the ICCHR starting with how she conducted the arrest in violation of international rules and obstructed the right to challenge the legality of the detention. The same acts described by the UNWGAD violate Article 7 of the ACHR.
- “When the non-observance, total or partial, of the international standards relating to the right to a fair trial […] is of such severity that it confers arbitrary deprivation of liberty.”
In paragraphs 98 to 110 of the UNWGAD opinion, there is a detailed retelling of how Berenice and her collaborators systematically violated the presumption of innocence and prolonged the arbitrary detention without legal justification or reasonable explanation. This 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 ACHR.
The Rodriguez Sanchez case is only one of dozens of high-profile arrests and prolonged detentions conducted by Berenice where the facts in the UNWGAD opinion are very similar. Many more cases of human rights violations that could be subject to UN legal opinions as well as serious legal consequences before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Gross violations of internationally recognized human rights are not trivial matters. Rather than attack and insult international bodies that enforce human rights laws, Berenice and her collaborators should consider the enormous legal peril they may be facing for their actions.