Caribbean Labour Solidarity
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Restore their Citizenship

Dominican Republic

No Apartheid in the Caribbean

Caribbean Labour Solidarity has been informed that the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic made a ruling in September 2013, which denies citizenship to thousands of children, women and men of Haitian origin, many of whose parents were brought to work in the Dominican Republic’s sugar industry. The ruling covers citizens resident in the Republic since 1929 and their descendants. It cannot be appealed in the Dominican Republic, as it is final, according to that country’s legal system. CLS condemns the decision and we call on the Dominican Republic to clarify the situation and explain the steps that they will take to reverse the decision of the Constitutional Court.

There is a long history of racism, xenophobia and violence directed against Haitians in the Dominican Republic, which cannot be disassociated from this latest injustice. In October 1937 a government-sponsored genocide of Haitians living in the Republic was carried out on the direct order of the country's President, Rafael Trujillo. This pogrom resulted in the killing of more than 20,000 civilians of Haitian origin over five days.

Between 1929 and 2010, the Dominican state granted nationality to all children born in the country except for those whose parents were diplomats or “in transit” at the time of their birth. “Transit” was considered anything less than 10 days. Throughout the decades the Republic accepted a considerable amount of Haitian migrants, often employed as temporary workers in sugar plantations. The state formally recognized their children as Dominican citizens, issuing them with birth certificates, identity cards and passports, irrespective of the migration status of their parents.

This situation changed in 2004, when a new Migration Law provided a new definition of the category “foreigners in transit”, extending it to people with expired residency visas and undocumented migrant workers. The authorities have applied the law retroactively, arguing that Dominican-born children of Haitian parents who had already received Dominican nationality had, in fact, not been eligible for it at the time of their birth.

Deprived of Dominican nationality and with no access to Haitian nationality automatic for second and third generation descendants of Haitian nationals these human beings risk becoming stateless.

This Constitutional Court ruling will affect an estimated 210,000 Dominican-born children, women and men of Haitian descent. According to reports the Government of the Dominican Republic is also examining deportation as a means of enforcing the ruling, which has in effect stripped citizenship rights of the offspring of Haitian migrants born after 1929. The vast majority of Haitians who will be affected by the ruling do not have Haitian citizenship, have few or no ties to Haiti and in many cases do not speak Kreyol, the official language of Haiti.

With immediate effect, over 40,000 persons affected by the Constitutional Court ruling in the Dominican Republic have been informed that they will be denied identity documents. Without such documents ability to access schools or healthcare services in the Dominican Republic will be impossible.

Already between 2011 and 2012 at least 68,700 Haitians have reportedly deported from the Dominican Republic. The ruling has been strongly condemned by the United Nations. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHR) in Geneva has called on the Dominican Republic, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry of Haiti, to take all necessary measures to ensure that citizens of Haitian origin are not deprived of their right to nationality. The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, says the organization, through its Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), will visit the Dominican Republic to ascertain the situation. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has also expressed concern over the court ruling, and is further investigating this issue. However, the CARICOM statement has been strongly criticized by an editorial of October 18, 2013, in the Jamaican Gleaner as “puny”, a description with which we wholeheartedly agree.

Members of the United States Congressional Black Caucus also released a strongly worded statement on 28 October 2013 regarding the ruling by the Dominican Constitutional Tribunal.

Sign the Petition to protest against this injustice

Caribbean Labour Solidarity acknowledges its reliance for the above on the work of Concerned Caribbean Citizens 
on Change.org .

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