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All about the Dominican Republic

Legal System of Dominican Republic

The Comptroller General, who is appointed by the President, exercises internal control of the administration and of public funds. The Court of Accounts, whose judges are nominated by the President and elected by the Senate, exercises external control. The President must submit each year’s accounts to the National Congress, which either approves or rejects the statement of earnings from taxes and fees and investment of revenues that the Executive Branch must submit to it.

The Judicial Branch consists of the Supreme Court of Justice, elected by the National Council of the Judiciary chaired by the President of the Republic and composed of four lawmakers and two members of the Supreme Court. In accordance with Law No. 76-02 of July 2, 2002, the National Congress instituted the Code of Criminal Procedure, enacted by the Executive Branch on July 19th of that same year, and whose final phase of implementation was carried out in September of 2004. This Code modified some of the courts and current Supreme Court of Justice, as well as the competences expressly attributed to the Supreme Court by the Constitution and the laws, granting it jurisdiction to hear and decide on motions for repeal or nullification (casación), to reopen a case (revisión) and to resolve jurisdictional conflicts between the Courts of Appeal or between Judges and Courts in different departments, as well as to conduct proceedings in the case of extradition requests.

The Dominican State also comprises decentralized and autonomous agencies. The latter include the local county governments, administered by a supervisor or mayor who enforces the resolutions and ordinances of the sala capitular and County Council, and who is popularly elected every four years. 

Presiding over the electoral bodies is the Central Elections Board (Junta Central Electoral – JCE) and the county elections boards, which answer to the Central Elections Board. The Central Elections Board is divided into two chambers, one contentious and the other administrative. Each chamber is composed of four judges who, together with the President of the JCE, are appointed every four years by the Senate of the Republic.

Recently, the Ombudsman’s Act created the Office of the Ombudsman. It is an independent body whose function is to monitor to ensure that public functions are correctly discharged and to be the watchdog of the citizenry’s personal and collective rights and entitlements. The Ombudsman has not yet been selected.

The fundamental individual and social, civil and political rights are recognized by the Constitution, the laws and the international instruments approved by Congress. The legal certainty of cases decided under a previous law is guaranteed by the Constitution. Similarly, laws cannot be applied retroactively, except when the convicted person or person on trial would benefit.

Due process of law is established in both the Constitution and the laws. There are a variety of remedies, such as mechanisms to defend and guarantee one’s fundamental rights. Any interested person may file a direct action with the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of any law, decree or resolution, where the party makes its case as to why the law, decree or resolution in question is in violation of the Constitution. 

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