Dominican Constitution

The Dominican constitution is the highest collection of laws that regulate the development of the every level of the country’s daily life. The first Constitution dates back to November 6, 1844 and, throughout the years, has experienced various reforms.

 

Sources of the Constitution of 1844

The direct sources of our first constitution were:

  • The U.S. Constitution of 1787, from which we adopted the presidential system;
  • The French constitutions of 1799 and 1814, which determined the essential nature of the adoption of the bicameral legislature system.
  • The Political Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy of March 18, 1812, known as the Constitution of Cadiz, which inspired the municipal divisions and the provincial system.
  • The Haitian constitutions of 1816 and 1843, of which 113 were copied, out of only 211 in the constitution of San Cristóbal.

For the drafting of the first Constitution the country formed a commission composed of: Vicente Mancebo, Buenaventura Báez, Manuel María Valencia, Julián de Aponte and Andrés Rozón.

Characteristics and Structure of the Dominican Constitution

It’s important to note that the reformed constitution of April 29, 1963 introduces social constitutionalism to the country and contains a marked declaration of fundamental principles, among them the consecration, in article 4, of the social function of private property, when it states “As a general rule, property should serve the progress and well-being of the whole.”

It gives equal importance to labor, as in article 2, ab-initio explains: “The existence of the Dominican nation is founded principally on labor; this is declared as a principle foundation for its social, political and economic organization, and establishes an inescapable obligation for all able Dominicans.”

Additionally, in the 2010 constitution the authors incorporate a section about human rights of the third and fourth generation, including the right to give birth and live in a clean environment, free of contamination and the protection of the human condition in a technological society. This version of the Magna Carta also includes gender equality and ensures the participation of Dominican society in the presentation of law proposals before the Congress.

Constitutional Reforms

The Dominican Constitution has been modified 39 times since its proclamation in November, 1844. Below is a list of dates during which these modifications occurred [1]:

  1. February 27, 1857
  2. December 16, 1854
  3. February 19,  1858 (Constituent)
  4. November 14, 1865 (Constituent)
  5. September 27,  1866
  6. April 26, 1868
  7. September 14, 1872
  8. March 14, 1874 (Constituent)
  9. March 9, 1875
  10. March 31, 1876
  11. May 7, 1877
  12. May 11, 1878
  13. February 11, 1879
  14. May 17, 1880
  15. November 23, 1881
  16. November 15, 1887
  17.  June 12, 1896
  18. June 14, 1907
  19. February 22, (Constituent)
  20. June 13, 1924 (Constituent)
  21. June 15, 1927
  22. January 9, 1929
  23. June 20, 1929
  24. January 10, 1932
  25. June 9, 1934
  26. January 10, 1947
  27. December 1, 1955
  28. November 7, 1959
  29. June 28, 1960
  30. December 2, 1960
  31. December 29, 1961
  32. September 16, 1962
  33. April 29, 1963 (Constituent)
  34. August 9,  1965
  35. November 28,  1966
  36. August 14, 1994
  37. July 25, 2002
  38. January 26, 2010
  39. May 28, 2015

Since its declaration and throughout history, 15 Dominican governments have altered the Constitution. The most frequent change has been related to presidential reelection. Other topics that have been reformed in the Dominican Constitution include the reaffirmation of the bicameral system; the inclusion of the direct vote for political magistrates and the strengthening of women’s political rights.

References: 
http://www.poderjudicial.gob.do/documentos/PDF/constitucion/Constitucion.pdf
http://www.listindiario.com/puntos-de-vista/2012/11/20/255799/los-derechos-fundamentales
http://eldia.com.do/reformas-constitucionales-que-ha-sufrido-la-carta-magna-del-pais-desde-1844/

Constitutional Milestones

In Dominican constitutional history, there are some aspects that have become keys to the structure of our political regime, and a consensus, to some degree, has been established around them for the maintenance of our Constitution. Among them are:

  • The reaffirmation of the bicameral system. 
  • The suppression of ministerial endorsement of the President of the Republic’s acts 
  • The establishment of direct suffrage for the political tribunals. 
  • Outlawing of the death penalty. 
  • The extension of women’s political rights and the establishment of gender equality.  
  • The establishment of the expropriation of private property for the purpose of public use and social interest.  
  • The principle of dual citizenship.  
  • Life time tenure of judges.  
  • Administrative and financial Independence of the Judicial Branch.  
  • The incorporation of a run-off election, in which one of the presidential candidates must obtain at least 50 percent or more of the total votes to win the election.  
  • The incorporation of rights for senior citizens.  
  • The creation of a Constitutional Tribunal and Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

References:
http://www.poderjudicial.gob.do/documentos/PDF/constitucion/Constitucion.pdf  
http://www.listindiario.com/puntos-de-vista/2012/11/20/255799/los-derechos-fundamentales  
http://eldia.com.do/reformas-constitucionales-que-ha-sufrido-la-carta-magna-del-pais-desde-1844/  

[1] Article from October 15, 2006, from the political section of the newspaper: El Nuevo Diario

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