The State Department upgraded its advisory to a “level 2,” encouraging citizens traveling to the country to “exercise increased caution” on its website. This comes months after the U.S. Embassy there warned “darker skinned” citizens over the Caribbean country’s migration agents mistaking them for Haitian immigrants, and recommended they always have charged cellphones and their U.S. passports in their possession.
“Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic,” the State Department explained. “The wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.”
According to the department’s most recent security report on the country, aggravated robbery was the No. 2 complaint in 2020, comprising 14% of all reported crimes. Meanwhile, 1,129 homicides were committed in the Dominican Republic, with a majority of them including a firearm. Some 350 of those murders were committed with a knife.
However, the department noted that there was an ongoing “development of a professional tourist police corps, institution of a 911 system in many parts of the country, and a concentration of resources in resort areas” while also clarifying that urban areas such as Santo Domingo are less policed.
The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Tourism and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.
“Despite government efforts, violence against women, including rape, is pervasive. Assaults have occurred while victims are in isolated or compromising situations, sometimes at the hands of resort employees or other tourists,” the department wrote. “Sexual assault victims in the Dominican Republic should not expect the totality of assistance routinely offered in the United States.”
Those victims, which also often include rape against those who identify as LGBT, are likely not to receive a rape kit until the next day or counseling at all.