Local April 7, 2015 | 7:29 am

Corruption acquittals stun Dominican Republic big business

Santo Domingo.- The National Business Council (CONEP) on Monday said it feels "deep levels of concern" from the crisis of confidence which the judiciary is going through," after court rulings that have sparked rebuke across wide sectors of society.

The statement by the business group comes just days after Sen. Felix Bautista and San Francisco DM mayor Felix Rodríguez, both of the ruling PLD party, were acquitted on charges they separately embezzled more than US$100.0 million.

"There can be no trust in institutions and the State itself, if there’s no confidence in the independence of the judiciary, and if its decisions are subject to widespread public questioning. This was compounded when it’s perceived that the administration of justice doesn’t play its part or hampers investigations related to acts of administrative corruption in its various forms," the CONEP said in a statement.

The country’s top business organization said the existence of a transparent public administration and fight against government corruption must be a commitment by society in general, the State in particular, but especially the Judiciary.

It warned that a credible system of justice is a cornerstone to develop any society and essential pillar to ensure legal security and a suitable business and investment climate in the country. “It’s an essential factor for the existence of a genuine rule of Law and the healthy performance of democratic institutions.

According to the CONEP, if Dominican society is convinced that court decisions ensure impunity for those with political power, the system’s moral foundation will vanish and the principle of equality before the law, enshrined in the Constitution will be put into question. It also noted that to promote transparency in all actions of State entities will become meaningless.

"In that regard it’s advisable that that branch of government create all corresponding institutional mechanisms and adopt measures to ensure internal and external independence of its various courts during the hearings and rulings on these issues," the CONEP said.

It said those are the reasons why it supports the recent demands by the Catholic Church and other civil society organizations regarding Dominican Justice. "We call upon the judiciary to reflect and become aware of the impact their decisions in this area have on the confidence about its actions and on the function of the State in general."

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