Dominican Republic: Include older persons in most vulnerable situations in public policies, says UN expert

Santo Domingo/Geneva, 10 March, 2023.- The Dominican Republic has made considerable progress toward the human rights of older persons, a UN expert said today, urging authorities to take appropriate steps to include older persons in the most vulnerable situations in public policies.

Claudia Mahler, UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, presented her conclusions following an 11-day visit to Santo Domingo and the provinces of Elías Piña and San José de Ocoa.

“All stakeholders I met consistently underlined the progress made by the current Government towards a better protection of older persons in the country. With the appropriate allocation of resources and political will, I am confident that the institutional framework currently in place is a good basis to undergo the necessary improvements that the Dominican Republic needs to achieve to ensure the full enjoyment of the human rights of older persons,” Mahler said.

The expert welcomed the existence of a law specifically dedicated to the protection of older persons and the creation of the National Council of the Ageing Person (CONAPE), a government agency to implement public policies in relation to older persons.

Mahler congratulated the Government on the ongoing ratification process of the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons. “The ratification of this convention will provide guidance on strengthening the human rights of older persons in the Dominican Republic in the near future and could be used as a basis to update and reform the law on protection of older persons,” she said.

The UN expert said that the Dominican Republic cultivates a culture of care for older persons, yet they continue to face important challenges. “Despite the progress made, I would strongly recommend the introduction of a universal pension to include older persons in the most vulnerable situations, for example those who worked in the informal economy or are undocumented,” Mahler said.

She urged the Government to increase the participation of older persons in decision-making processes and take into account the diversity of older persons in its public policies. The expert encouraged the adoption of a more human-centred approach to increase the visibility of older persons in the most vulnerable situations and ensure the full enjoyment of their human rights.

“The Dominican Republic has a long history of being a champion for the rights of older persons, personified by Ambassador Julia Tavares de Alvarez who was a pioneer for the visibility of older persons at the United Nations,” Mahler said. “The Government will soon have the opportunity to renew its support to this cause at the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing in New-York,” she said.

The expert will present a comprehensive report of her findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in September 2023.

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