Civic group seeks focus on impunity

Impunity continues to be rife in government in the Dominican Republic, according to the annual report from civic group Citizen Participation. The group says that impunity affects citizen safety. “The undisputable ally for the safety of citizens is transparency and accountability,” says the organization, calling for the guarantee that anyone who has broken the law, regardless of position, must receive equal treatment from the authorities.

Despite record high popularity, the Medina administration has done little when it comes to tackling much criticized centers of corruption inherited from the eight-year long Leonel Fernandez administration. Fernandez is a strong candidate to be the PLD’s presidential candidate for the 2016 presidential election, an election for which incumbent Danilo Medina is banned from running by the 2010 Constitution.

The current Dominican government is recognized for new efforts for increased austerity and efficiency in government spending. Nonetheless, areas identified during the Medina campaign times as rife with corruption have remained untouched. Citizen Participation executive director Rosalia Sosa says that the most negative element of 2013 is the predominant perception of impunity. She recalls that according to the Index of Perception of Corruption 2013 published by Transparency International on 3 December, the Dominican Republic received 29%, and is ranked as 123rd most corrupt of 177 countries, maintaining its ranking as one of the countries with the highest levels of corruption. The index reveals that the Medina administration has done little to eradicate corruption in government. Sosa says there has been little change in the inherited practice of allowing political party allies and their relatives to infiltrate government department budgets for political patronage. She said that the Medina government did not present any initiative to reduce or rationalize the public payroll in 2013.

Sosa says that the judiciary is inefficient in its role of fighting administrative corruption. Sosa was also critical of the reform and modernizing of the Police.

Nevertheless, Citizen Participation says that the Medina administration has made better use of public funds than previous administrations, with an increase in the number of public works that have been awarded to winners of tenders, a fair distribution of public investments nationwide and a reduction in inflation.