The administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power, indicated that the United States is providing assistance to create a civil forfeiture system to recover assets acquired through corruption.
The statements were made by Power at the conclusion of the second high-level bilateral dialogue to discuss institutional reforms.
The National Congress is currently working on the creation of this legislature promoted by Senator Antonio Taveras.
“Justice is elemental. It is necessary. And the United States is committed to partnering with President Abinader’s administration to demonstrate that crime does not pay. For example, we are assisting the Dominican Republic to create a civil forfeiture system, so that the state can recover stolen assets and return them to the hands of the people where they belong,” he said.
Among the achievements in this area, the United States noted that this support includes expert recommendations aligned with international best practices in 11 key areas.
Technical assistance was also provided to deepen the debate between the legislature, civil society and the private sector on the design and implementation of similar civil asset forfeiture laws around the world.
The following is the full speech
Good afternoon, everyone. It is a pleasure to be at President Abinader’s side and to join you, Chargé d’Affaires Thomas, Minister Alvarez and all the leaders, ministers and embassy staff gathered here today for an event that truly inspires great enthusiasm on the part of the United States.
I have been a frequent visitor to the Dominican Republic for the past two decades; my 12-year-old son plays baseball every February here in Consuelo, San Pedro de Macoris. He couldn’t join me today, but I got him an autograph from Rufo, so at least I won’t return empty-handed.
But, although my son may be extremely excited about Dominican baseball, I am touched by Dominican democracy. When he heard that he might have a chance to talk to Vlad Guerrero, he was very impressed.
When I heard that I could talk about institutional reforms next to President Abinader I jumped with excitement for the opportunity.
Institutional reform may not be an issue that appeals to the masses, that makes headlines in the newspapers or makes people look closely at the television. But perhaps there is no other issue more important to the future of the Dominican Republic.
Now and for 20 years the Dominican Republic has been one of the fastest growing economies in the Western Hemisphere. This boom of resounding growth and industry has attracted nearly half of all investment in the Caribbean before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In 2020 its citizens demanded change, more accountable government and real progress in the fight against corruption. Which led to a peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another in 16 years.
Since taking office, President Abinader has strengthened the rule of law in the Dominican Republic and demonstrated that democracies can deliver results for their citizens.
I want to emphasize something that might not be so obvious, if you live here in this country: President Abinader is taking reformist steps at a time when other governments in the region and around the world are moving away from the rule of law and see laws and institutional limitations as inconvenient. They are practicing what we now call democratic backsliding.
In April, during the last High Level Dialogue, the United States agreed to work with the Dominican Republic on shared goals that I just had the opportunity to discuss with the President and Minister Alvarez. Shared goals such as police reform, anti-corruption, and advancing transparency, human rights and anti-discrimination issues. As our partners in the Dominican Republic, we recognize that corruption not only undermines democratic processes, but also slows economic growth and drives away private investment. For this reason, President Biden has made fighting corruption an unprecedented priority for the United States. He is the first U.S. president to make corruption a national security priority.