Dominican official alleged rape of Haitian girl sparks outrage

In the early hours of the morning, an immigration agent’s visit to a residence in a bustling tourist enclave in the eastern Dominican Republic took a dark turn, as allegations of sexual assault was reported by a 14-year-old Haitian girl. The incident, which reportedly occurred on April 5th in Bávaro, near the renowned Punta Cana tourist area, has reignited concerns over the treatment of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader

According to a video testimony, the immigration agent initially entered the home, inquiring about the girl’s parents and then allegedly made inappropriate advances towards her, which she rebuffed. However, the situation escalated when he returned, forcibly undressing and assaulting her. The girl’s soft-spoken admission of the assault in Spanish has sparked outrage and swift responses from Dominican authorities.

This disturbing incident follows a similar accusation from September, where another Haitian woman accused an immigration agent of rape at the Santo Domingo international airport. In both cases, the alleged victims were Haitian migrants, raising concerns about systemic violations of human rights.

In response to the recent accusation, Dominican officials have launched an investigation, emphasizing their commitment to upholding human rights. Julio Caraballo, the communications director for the General Directorate of Immigration, affirmed that any implicated agent would face suspension and prosecution.

The Dominican government, through spokesman Homero Figueroa, vehemently condemned the assault, stressing the importance of respecting the rights of all individuals within its borders, irrespective of nationality. Director of the immigration agency, Venancio Alcántara, assured that no leniency would be shown if an officer is found guilty.

However, activists, both Haitian and Dominican, demand more than just investigations. Edwin Paraison, representing the Zile Foundation, calls for comprehensive human rights training for immigration officers and law enforcement to prevent future atrocities.

The victim’s mother, who filed the complaint, recounted the harrowing ordeal her daughter endured, highlighting the need for justice. Accompanied by human rights activist Santiago Molina, she seeks accountability and closure. Molina, who has been advocating for improved treatment of Haitians in the Dominican Republic, asserts that such abuses are not isolated incidents.

These allegations surface against a backdrop of heightened anti-Haitian sentiment, fueled by right-wing factions supporting President Luis Abinader. While Abinader has positioned himself as an advocate for Haiti’s security, his administration’s deportation of over 250,000 Haitians, including asylum seekers, draws criticism from international observers.

As the investigation unfolds, the case serves as a grim reminder of the challenges faced by Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic and underscores the imperative for systemic reforms to protect their rights and dignity.