Fact Sheet

Statelessness in the Dominican Republic

fact sheet revised, September 2014.

On September 23, 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Tribunal issued a notorious decision (TC 168-13) that stripped the citizenship of Dominicans born to foreigners “in transit,” that is, immigrants without legal status, of which the vast majority are Haitian. As many as 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent faced the risk of losing their Dominican citizenship, rendering them stateless.

 

The court decision made official a government policy in effect since 2007 to deny birth certificates and ID cards (cédulas) to people born in Dominican territory, for no other reason than their parents’ immigration status. As a result, Dominicans of Haitian descent were no longer able to attend school past 8th grade, go to college, exercise professions such as law, get married, own property, and register their children when they were born. Their lives were paralyzed.

 

In May 2014, the government passed a “SPECIAL LAW” (Law 169-14) that it claimed would solve the problem. Yet, the vast majority of Dominicans of Haitian descent continue to encounter difficulty obtaining their identity documents. Hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent still face the prospect of denationalization and are vulnerable to the threat of deportation from the country of their birth.

 

A “Solution” that Creates Many Problems

 

  • The law only recognizes the Dominican nationality of a small percentage of those affected by the decision TC 168-13: Dominicans born to undocumented immigrant parents who had already been registered in the Civil Registry and thus had a birth certificate.
  • The law does not recognize their right to Dominican nationality. Instead, it claims they had been “irregularly” registered in the Civil Registry and recognizes their Dominican nationality as a step to “correct” that “irregularity.”
  • The law retroactively turns hundreds of thousands of people born in Dominican territory into foreigners based on the immigration status of their parents, even for those born before a change in the previous Constitution that granted citizenship to anyone born in Dominican territory. These Dominican-born individuals must register in a “book of foreigners.”
  • Many of the poorest Dominicans, of all national origins, are not registered in the Civil Registry because of lack of resources, lack of information, and lack of access to government offices.
  • Yet, the law provides a period of only 90 days to register in the “book of foreigners,” and they must then submit to the National Plan for the Regularization of Foreigners, despite being born in Dominican territory at a time when the Constitution would have recognized them as citizens.
  • The implementation of the law has been very problematic: many Dominicans who were registered in the Civil Registry are still being denied their cédula, and only a few hundred have registered in the “book of foreigners” due to lack of information about the process, lack of resources, and lack of access to government offices.
  • Statelessness and denationalization are ongoing in the Dominican Republic.

 

 

Fact Sheet from Early 2014

Download the PDF version of this Fact Sheet.

Click here to download a fact sheet prepared by Open Society Foundations.

¿What is Resolution 168/13?

On September 23, the Dominican Republic’s Tribunal Constitution issued a decision that stripped the citizenship of Dominicans born to foreigners “in transit,” that is, immigrants without legal status, of which the vast majority are Haitian. A government census earlier this year suggests that as many as 210,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent could be stripped of their Dominican citizenship.

Who is a citizen according to the Constitution?

The Dominican Constitution of 2010, although it declares that children of those “who are in transit or reside illegally” in the country are not citizens, recognizes the citizenship of those who were citizens prior to the date the new Constitution went into effect (Art. 18). The Constitution also prohibits the application of laws retroactively (Art. 110).

Why we oppose this ruling

Haitians have migrated to the Dominican Republic since the early 20th century to work in sugar fields and banana plantations and, more recently, in the booming construction sector. For decades, the Dominican and Haitian governments signed contracts to bring tens of thousands of Haitian immigrants to the Dominican Republic.

Past Constitutions and government policies recognized jus soli, or birthright citizenship, meaning that any person born in the country was considered a citizen (with the exception of people “in transit,” a group that included little more than foreign diplomats). Since 2004, the government, particularly the Junta Central Electoral (JCE), has enacted policies to exclude the children of Haitian migrants from citizenship, denying them essential identity documents necessary to register the birth of a child, to go to school, to work, to get married. After being ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to grant the nationality of the children of undocumented migrants, the government has taken more definitive steps to exclude a whole category of Dominicans from citizenship, first by changing the Constitution, and now through Resolution 168/13.

Resolution 168/13 violates fundamental human rights such as the right to a nationality and the right to exercise other political, economic, and social rights that come with citizenship. The decision violates principles of international law by arbitrarily stripping people of their nationality and applying a law retroactively.

We advocate for an inclusive Dominican national identity that recognizes and celebrates our diversity. As Dominican-Americans, we oppose this attempt by the Constitutional Tribunal to exclude our Dominican brothers and sisters of Haitian descent and deprive them of their basic rights.

¡NO A LA DESNACIONALIZACIÓN DE DOMINICANOS DE ASCENDENCIA HAITIANA! 

¡EXIGE EL CUMPLIMENTO DE LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS EN LA REPÚBLICA DOMINICANA!

¿Qué es la Sentencia 168/13?

El 23 de septiembre, el Tribunal Constitucional emitió una sentencia que despoja de su ciudadanía a dominicano/as cuyos padres son migrantes sin estatus legal, de los cuales la mayoría son haitiano/as. Un estudio realizado este año por el gobierno indica que hasta 210.000 dominicano/as de ascendencia haitiana podrán ser despojado/as de su nacionalidad.

¿Quiénes son ciudadano/as, según la Constitución?

La Constitución dominicana del año 2010, si bien declara que lo/as hijo/as de extranjero/as “en tránsito o que residan ilegalmente en territorio dominicano” no son dominicano/as, reconoce la nacionalidad de “quienes gocen de la nacionalidad dominicana antes de la entrada en vigencia de esta Constitución” (Art. 18). La Constitución también establece la irretroactividad de la ley (Art. 110).

Por qué nos oponemos a la sentencia

Inmigrantes haitiano/as han llegado a la República Dominicana desde el comienzo del siglo XX para trabajar en las industrias azucarera y bananera, y en los últimos años, en el sector de la construcción. Durante décadas los gobernantes haitianos y dominicanos firmaban acuerdos para llevar decenas de millares de trabajadores haitianos a la República Dominicana.

La antigua Constitución y políticas de gobierno reconocían el jus soli, un principio legal que establecía que cualquier persona nacida en territorio dominicano era ciudadano/a dominicano/a (con la excepción de extranjeros “en transito,” categoría que en aquellos momentos incluía principalmente a diplomáticos). Desde 2004, el gobierno, sobre todo la Junta Central Electoral (JCE), ha implementado políticas para excluir de la nacionalidad dominicana a lo/as hijo/as de migrantes haitiano/as, negándoles documentos de identidad necesarios para recibir el acta de nacimiento de un hijo, estudiar, trabajar, casarse. Tras ser condenado por la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en un fallo que obliga al Estado Dominicano a reconocer la nacionalidad a los descendientes de migrantes indocumentados, el gobierno ha tomado pasos concretos para excluir toda una categoría de dominicanos/as de los derechos y la protección de la ciudadanía. Primero cambiaron la Constitución (2010), y ahora pretenden hacerlo permanente a través de la sentencia 168/13, la cual es inapelable.

La sentencia 168/13 viola derechos humanos fundamentales como el derecho a la nacionalidad y el ejercicio de otros derechos políticos, económicos y sociales que otorga la ciudadanía. Esta sentencia viola principios del derecho internacional al privar arbitrariamente de su nacionalidad a personas que toda su vida fueron dominicanas, y en la aplicación retroactiva de la ley.

Defendemos una identidad dominicana incluyente que reconoce y se enriquece con la diversidad de nuestro país. Como dominico-americanos, nos oponemos a esta sentencia del Tribunal Constitucional que excluye a nuestro/as hermano/as dominicano/as de ascendencia haitiana y viola sus derechos humanos.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s