Santo Domingo, Feb 20.- The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) stressed on Monday that the State and its officials must be guarantors of children’s rights after the recent violent deaths in the country of a boy and an adolescent allegedly by public employees.
In a statement, the representative of Unicef in the Dominican Republic, Rosa Elcarte, referred to the death of Donaly Martínez, 12, from the shooting of a police officer and Esmeralda Richiez, 16, in which the main suspect is a teacher.
“We reaffirm our commitment to technical support for capacity building so that no boy or girl loses their life again in the hands of the police authorities or any other member of the Dominican State,” and “we promise to continue working hard to avoid that these situations happen again,” he said.
Unicef, she indicated, “trusts the authorities so that the investigation is fast, impartial and transparent and with results to define responsibilities.”
Regarding the case of Donaly Martínez, she considered that it would be necessary to review “if the protocol (of police action) is up to date, if the agents have been adequately trained and if they were prepared to act” in situations such as massive or popular events.
On the other hand, she stated, “painfully frequent” is the case of Esmeralda Richiez, whose “circumstances are not completely clear, but the public facts are extremely worrying.”
“These sad events are added to others that occurred previously in Dominican territory, in which children and adolescents are subjected to physical violence and sexual abuse and exploitation,” she added.
For Elcarte, in the Dominican Republic, there is “an excessive normalization of sexual relations between adults and minors, without taking into account that these involve sexual violence.”
He warned that, according to different studies, in the country, 65% of adolescents between the ages of 15 and 17 have suffered sexual violence at some point in their lives, and 2% of young women had a child before the age of 15, made under which frequently occur situations of abuse, incest, and sexual violence.
To protect minors, the head of Unicef stressed that the Penal Code must clarify that no type of violence against children is accepted in any environment, including digital.
In addition, a law is needed to define the age determining when “consent” to have sexual relations is possible, which would be considered a violation if those years were not reached.
He also advocated “the design of public policies that promote prevention, data collection, prosecution of perpetrators, and assistance to victims of sexual abuse.” He urged public officials or employees such as law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, teachers, health workers, and those dealing with minors to receive training to ” completely eliminate psychological, physical and sexual violence.”