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Human rights defender combating Haitian statelessness attacked in Dominican Republic
Published on September 30, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Around 8.30pm on 25 September, Dominican human rights defender Genaro Rincon was verbally and physically assaulted in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. Various other defenders working against statelessness in the country have recently reported receiving threats, intimidations and insults related to their work.

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On 25 September, Rincon left his office in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo and went to a bus station nearby on his way home to Santo Domingo Este. Rincon told Amnesty International that, while he waited for the bus, he noticed a man looking at him suspiciously.

Around 8.15pm Genaro Rincon boarded the bus. The man he saw earlier sat in front of him and after a few minutes began to verbally assault Rincon, shouting at him repeatedly, “The Haitian race is the worst in the world.” The man later picked up his phone, saying, “Yes I’m with him.” He then told Rincon: “You’re one of those defenders,” and tried to punch Rincon in the face.

The bus driver asked both men to get off the bus. Rincon tried to resist but a second man suddenly came from behind and pushed him onto the street. While on the ground, one of the two men threw a cement block at him, hitting his head and chest. Rincon was able to grab a pen and defend himself by striking one of the two assailants in the eye.

At this point a passerby shouted, “He is armed!” to distract the two attackers. This gave Rincon the opportunity to run and seek assistance in a gas station nearby. The staff called emergency services, who brought Rincon to a hospital. Doctors told him he had a severe wound to the head, and other wounds to the lips, chest, legs and feet.

This attack happened a few days after public commemorations of the 2013 Constitutional Court judgement that rendered tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent stateless (Rincon being the lawyer of that emblematic case), which were widely reported in national media.

Since then, reports of threats, intimidations and insults on social media against human rights defenders working on this issue have increased. At least two defenders, including Rincon, reported having been followed by unknown cars in the last two weeks.
 
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