Dominican Republic: Stateless people are no-rights people

Dominicans of Haitian descent demonstrating for their right to nationality

By Chiara Liguori, Amnesty International’s researcher on the Caribbean

There is one question everybody should be asking today at the United Nations in Geneva, as a panel of experts reviews the Dominican Republic’s human rights record: why are they stripping hundreds of thousands of people of their nationality?

Dominicans of Haitian descent have long been waiting for an answer.

The long-running discrimination against Dominicans of Haitian descent took a turn for the worse last September, when the country’s Constitutional Court – the highest in the land – ruled that anyone born since 1929 to foreign parents who could not prove their regular migration status, had been wrongly registered as Dominican.

Since then, more than 250,000 people are believed to have lost their Dominican nationality and are now stateless.

Since 2007, the government has been denying Dominicans of Haitian descent of their identity documents, depriving them of the right to work, marry, send their children to school or vote.

It is also feared that thousands of others can be effectively forced to move to the country of their forebears, even if they have never been there before or don’t speak the language.

One of them is father-of-two Felipe Fortines. His ancestors were born in Haiti.

“If you don’t have a birth certificate, you can’t have an identity card, and your life becomes null and void,” he said.

“According to the ruling, I would have to go to Haiti, ask them to grant me nationality and then come back to become naturalized. It’s absurd.”

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), governments and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have criticised the ruling.

But the government of President Danilo Medina has ignored the critics and maintains its determination to implement the ruling. It is currently preparing a draft law on naturalisation.

Although the content of the draft law if still unknown, it is feared that it wrongly assumes that people affected by the ruling are foreigners who need to be naturalised.

President Medina says the measures do not violate any human rights.

He is wrong.

His argument ignores that while conditions for granting nationality are for each state to decide, international law provides that no one can be arbitrarily deprived of nationality, particularly if that may result in statelessness.

He also conveniently overlooks the fact that his government has the obligation to respect and uphold the human rights and dignity of his fellow citizens – including their right to work, health and education.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process in which all 193 UN member states scrutinize each other’s human rights record, under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council.

Some high level officials in the Dominican Republic have claimed that the critics are part of an international conspiracy against their country and that they are interfering with matters of national interest.

This is absurd. The UPR review should be seen by Dominican authorities as an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to human rights.

During a recent high-level meeting between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the Dominican representatives committed to respect the rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent. They should now show the world how they intend to implement this pledge.

Read more:
Dominicans of Haitian descent fight back (Blog, 2 December 2013)


Posted in Discrimination, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Racial Discrimination | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

  1. Flor del Caribe says:

    What do you guys know about Dominican Republic constitutional laws, I guess you know nothing right?, Therefore your article is full of falseness, nothing near the truth. There is no one stateless in Dominican Republic. First of all the chapter 11th of Haitian the constitution states that are Haitians anyone born in any country of Haitians parents (Mother and father), means that only this fact does not make these people stateless. Second: there are several factors of why the ID were denied, and this caused by many irregularities that are being carrying with majority of Haitians IDs in the Dominican Republic

    1- Most of these people claiming to be born in the Dominican Republic have not been able to prove it, do you know why? So simple; because most of them stole identities from other people in order to get their kids birth certificates, this is the reason why you can see some of them have Spanish names, now their kids are gown up and paying the consequences of this criminal act of identity theft.
    2- On election times which is counted since 1986 trough 2004 many Haitians were given IDs (cedulas) in an irregular way from different parties, so they could vote specially PRD and PRSC competing majorly at the moment; but it wasn’t legal because in the Dominican Republic the law prohibited to give Cedulas to an illegal person and more even worse if it was with a Dominican citizenship status, which was mainly the case. This irregularity is a very serious abnormality. Not only were they causing future problems for Haitians and the Dominican states, but they were violating they constitution on many facts; a) facilitating IDs to foreigner in an illegal way b) Giving citizenship and birth certificates to illegal foreigners, c) permitting foreigners to vote in Dominican Republic’s elections, when the constitutions prohibit it.

    Therefore those IDs given to Haitians were not valid, they were given to them illegally in order to get their votes. Third there are Haitians who brought their kids little to the country and somehow they got someone to register their kids on their names and make tem pass by Dominicans.
    Fourth and final: there are the kids of those who went to Dominican Republic with temporary work permits, for about six months and after that they were supposed to go back to Haiti; they did never go back, instead they remained hiding o bateyes and never made an afford to fix their illegal status, that made their situation very tuff, no because they couldn’t work in something else but sugar cane, but because they couldn’t register their kids to get their birth certificates, BECAUSE THE DOMINICAN LAW FROM 1929 ALWAYS PROHIBITED DOMINICAN CITIZENSHIP TO KIDS OF ILLEGALS INMIGRANTS AND TRANSITS. for this reason many of these Haitians paid money under the table to get Dominican IDs and birth certificates ( the wrong way) because that was illegal too and it is called (subordination) another crime. Some of these kids today state that their mothers and fathers are dead or off the country since they can’t prove their authenticity.

    NOTE: Temporary means transit and they went to Dominican Republic with a temporary work permit for no more than 3 to 6 months, they stayed and exhausted their permanence in the country which them made them illegal and then making the situation even worse, because an illegal has not more right over a transit person or in other word illegality does not generate legality. The Dominican people right are being violated because they are hiring a massive amount of illegal Haitians at the constructions sites, that kind work were made by Dominicans ten years ago, now it happen to be that everyone say that Dominicans don’t want to do that work, how can this change so quick in a poor country? There is nothing so far from reality; the truth is that this companies want to pay Haitians five times less money they would pay Dominicans, that is the real exploitation of Haitians, they should be the target to attack, not the country, not the government, these are the people who are spreading all this false campaign against a poor country, it is not fair, Dominican republic doesn’t have not resource to support millions of hungry Haitians. The Dominican Republic has done for Haiti more that any other country in the world. Health assistant $ 100 million, 54,000 Haitians in our colleges and schools, our street are full of vendors, full of Haitians, all the agriculture jobs are made by Haitians, Haitians send about $900 thousand to Haiti every year to Haiti just from the Dominican Republic, all that is not counting all other public facilities given to them. apart from that they bring diseases to the country, like AIDS, Cholera and Malaria, they also bring poverty to a poor country….Do you still think it is fair to keep attacking a poor country like this.

    Where is the racist and discrimination? Do you think a country who its people are so racist would allow almost two millions black Haitians to take over everything as they are doing? I suggest to the Dominicans’ depredators to do a deeper investigations before they put their fingers on the keys f their keyboards, making large articles about something that they don’t have one bit of knowledge, popping up on newspaper headlines with lies and false statements. Though Dominicans should be acting as racist since it has been so many accusation of it ; and the first thing to start, is to deport every single Haitians living in Dominican Republic, not accepting any Haitians in the hospitals, not giving jobs to nay Haitians, cleaning all the Haitian slumps from the Dominican streets and sealing the Dominican Haitian border, that probably wouldn’t be a racist act but a respect’s act as The Dominicans people are the right that are being violated, Dominican jobs are being taken, public hospitals are being taken, schools are being taken, the street are being taken, the country is being discredit, and you guys still have the nerve to call the Dominican people racist? What do you want? Do you want the whole county for you to destroy it as you destroyed Haiti? Why don’t you fight for your country instead? You are in the wrong place, Haiti is the country you need to fight for not the Dominican Republic.

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