Press Release

IACHR Condemns Death of Haitian Immigrant at Hands of State Agents in the Dominican Republic

June 12, 2013

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the death of Jean Robert Lors, a 31-year-old Haitian national who reportedly died as a result of being beaten by agents of the General Directorate of Migration and of the police, during a massive repatriation roundup carried out in the neighborhood of El Tanque, Juan Dolio, in the Dominican Republic.

 According to publicly available information, on May 14, 2013, agents of the General Directorate of Migration, in conjunction with Dominican police, reportedly broke the locks and violently entered the home of Jean Robert Lors. During the raid, Jean Robert Lors, who had a visa authorizing him to work in the Dominican Republic, was reportedly not allowed to show his immigration documents; nor was he allowed to get dressed before they took him out of his house. The agents reportedly beat him repeatedly with the butts of their weapons and kicked him when he was on the ground. He received medical treatment at Darío Contreras Hospital for traumatic brain injury and fractures in the L6 and L7 vertebrae, in the neck area. He died on May 23, 2013.

 The Inter-American Commission is concerned that this same roundup also included the detention of Marlene Antoine, a Haitian national married to a Dominican citizen. According to the information that is available, Marlene Antoine was taken, along with her 3-year-old son, to the Haina Detention Center. During her detention there, the child reportedly suffered a head injury that required sutures to close the wound. The transfer to the medical center reportedly took place the day after he was injured.

Commissioner Felipe González, IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants, stated that “the information we have received regarding these events is of utmost concern to the Commission. In any immigration control action, States have the obligation to ensure that their authorities respect the rights to life and to the physical and psychological integrity of all persons, regardless of their immigration status.”

The Inter-American Commission urges the authorities in the Dominican Republic to investigate these acts diligently and impartially, and in particular to investigate whether the death of Jean Robert Lors was the result of excessive use of force by agents of the General Directorate of Migration and of the police.

In addition, the Inter-American Commission calls on the Dominican Republic to adopt all measures that may be necessary to guarantee the application of international standards regarding the use of force in immigration control operations; the observance of due process in immigration procedures that tend to result in deportation; the exceptional nature of immigration-related detentions; detention under conditions in keeping with human dignity; and the prohibition of mass expulsions.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 42/13