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Dominican Republic[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005


Summary and Analysis


The Dominican Republic signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child on August 8, 1990.  The Convention was ratified on June 11, 1991. 

In January of 2004 the Dominican Republic adopted a new Code for the Protection of Children and Adolescents. 
Law 136-03 entitled the the Código para el Sistema de Protección y los Derechos Fundamentales de los Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes entered into force on August 7, 2004.  The law establishes the framework for everything related to children in the country, including adoption, custody, guardianship, and the termination of parental rights.  For instance, Chapter II, Article 91 of the law establishes that in all proceedings concerning the guardianship of a child, that child should be heard in accordance with the child's maturity.  At the same time, a Family Court System was also established called the Tribunal del Niño, Niña y Adolescente.  Our research suggests that while on paper the Dominican laws and codes are excellent, in practice children's rights are not being so carefully guarded.  It is unclear if the laws are being ignored, if the resources are too limited to obey them, or if the laws are simply unknown. 

A 2003 State report[2] found that despite the presence of government institutions charged with protecting child welfare, it was private social and religious organizations that were bearing the burden of providing such services.  The primary government organization designed to protect child welfare is the Oversight Organization for the Protection of Children.  The institution was created by the executive branch and is responsible for leading information campaigns on children's rights, including preventing child abuse, and providing training to those dealing with children in an official capacity such as social service workers, judicial officials, and child advocates.

The report also noted that the Department of Family and Children estimated half of the children in the Dominican Republic were victims of some form of abuse, but few of these cases reached the courts.  Typically the person accused of committing the abuse was a relative or close family friend.  The Minor's Code contains provisions prohibiting child abuse and providing for the removal of abused children to a safe environment.  A Crime and Society Report[3] found that according to local monitors, cases of child abuse were underreported as a result of customary beliefs that family problems are to be dealt with internally.  However, the report also suggested that child abuse is increasingly receiving public attention.  Despite our best efforts, we were unable to locate a local contact person in this jurisdiction to confirm our research.


Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)


Original Text



Ley No. 136-03 Código para la protección de los derechos de los Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes.[4]

Art. 16.- DERECHO A OPINAR Y SER ESCUCHADO. Todos los niños, niñas y adolescentes tienen derecho a expresar libremente su opinión, ser escuchados y tomados en cuenta, de acuerdo a su etapa progresiva de desarrollo.

Párrafo I.- Este derecho se extiende a todos los ámbitos en que se desenvuelven los niños, niñas y adolescentes: estatal, familiar, comunitario, social, escolar, científico, cultural, deportivo y recreacional.





Art. 72.- TÉRMINO DE LA AUTORIDAD PARENTAL. La autoridad del padre y de la madre termina por:

. . .

d) La suspensión definitiva de la autoridad del padre y/o de la madre por decisión judicial.


Art. 74.- CAUSAS DE SUSPENSIÓN TEMPORAL DE LA AUTORIDAD DEL PADRE O DE LA MADRE. La autoridad del padre o de la madre puede ser objeto de suspensión temporal por:

a) Falta, negligencia o incumplimiento injustificado de sus deberes, cuando tengan los medios para cumplirlos;

b) Cuando el padre y/o la madre por acción u omisión, comprobadas por el juez competente, amenacen o vulneren los derechos del niño, niña y adolescente y pongan en riesgo su seguridad y bienestar integral aún como resultado de una medida disciplinaria;

. . .

e) Interdicción civil o judicial.





Art. 90.- TRIBUNAL COMPETENTE. Toda demanda de guarda deberá ser introducida por ante el Tribunal de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes del lugar donde vive la persona que ejerce la guarda.

Párrafo.- El juez competente del conocimiento de un procedimiento de guarda lo será igualmente para conocer de las pretensiones en materia de alimentos que presente de manera accesoria o que se deriven de dicho proceso.


Art. 91.- OPINIÓN DEL NIÑO, NIÑA Y ADOLESCENTE. En todos los procedimientos que puedan afectar la guarda de niños, niñas y adolescentes deberá ser oída su opinión, de acuerdo a su madurez.






Law No. 136-03 Code for the protection of the rights of children and adolescents.[6]

Art. 16.- The right to express an opinion and be heard. All children and adolescents have the right to freely express an opinion, to be heard and to be taken account of, in accordance with their stage of development (maturity).

Paragraph I.- This right extends to all the circumstances in which children and adolescents mature: state, familial, communitarian, social, academic, scientific, cultural, athletic and recreational.




Art. 72.- TERMINATION OF PARENTAL AUTHORITY. The authority of the parents shall be terminated by:

. . .

d) The definitive suspension of the authority of the father and/or of the mother by judicial decision.


Art. 74.- CAUSES OF THE TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF THE PARENTS' AUTHORITY. The authority of the father or the mother may be suspended for:

a) Absence, negligence or unjustified noncompliance with the rights of the children or adolescents, when the parents have the means by which to comply;

b) When the parents, through action or omission, proven by a judge, threaten or make vulnerable the rights of the children or adolescents and put in danger their integral security or well-being such that it has resulted in disciplinary action;

. . .

e) Civil or Judicial injunction.





Art. 90.- COMPETENT TRIBUNAL. All demands for custody should be introduced before the Tribunal for Children and Adolescents of the place where the person executing the custody dispute lives

Paragraph.- The judge with knowledge of the custody proceedings will also know the material pretensions and related materials that are presented or that result from said process


Art. 91.- OPINION OF THE CHILD OR THE ADOLESCENT. In all proceedings that might affect the custody proceedings of the children or the adolescents, their opinion should be heard in accordance with their maturity.


Additional Resources and Links





[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] U.S. Dep't of St., Dominican Republic: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (2003) available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18329.htm and also here.

[3] Robert Winslow, Crime and Society: A Comparative Criminology Tour of the World, available at http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/rwinslow/namerica/dominican_republic.html.

[4] Código para la protección de los derechos de los Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes [Dominican Republic Code for the Protection of the rights of Boys, Girls and Adolescents], available at http://www.ramosmessina.com/136-2003.pdf and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[5] This is an unofficial translation done by Roy Altman, Yale Law School J.D. 2007.



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