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Dominican Republic may render 500,000 stateless
October 23, 2013

Dominican Republic may render 500,000 stateless
Delivering a letter protesting the court ruling which may leave 500,000 people stateless in the Dominican Republic, to the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Washington, D.C., October 23, 2013. (Caroline Dobuzinskis—Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights)
Many people and institutions, from diverse backgrounds, have rallied against this abhorrent "civil genocide." With your help, we can stand with those affected by this ruling. We appreciate your attention and ask for your support to put an end to this, because, Eso no se hace/This is not okay.
(Washington, D.C.) October 23, 2013 — One month ago, on September 23, the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic issued an extremely worrying ruling which threatens to denationalize as many as half a million Dominicans of foreign descent because their parents—or in some cases their grandparents or great-grandparents—were irregular migrants. 

Earlier today, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA — along with several other organizations — delivered the letter below to the Dominican embassy here in the District of Colombia. Jesuit Refugee Service/USA stands with Centro Bonó, a Jesuit organization in the Dominican Republic, and in solidarity with nearly half a million Dominicans of foreign descent who are facing statelessness after a court ruling which threatens to denationalize them.

In support of the movement "Dominican@s por Derecho" (Dominicans for Human Rights), we wish to express our discontent with the recent ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic denationalizing tens of thousands of Dominicans of foreign descent. Judgment 0168-13, issued one month ago, particularly affects Dominicans of Haitian descent.

This ruling retroactively terminates the jus soli in force, until the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution, and applies to those born in the Dominican Republic since 1929 whose parents were undocumented at the time of birth. The Court applies inadmissible racial criteria to extend this measure. It also urges the Central Electoral Board, responsible for issuing birth certificates and identity cards, to create a list of people now stripped of citizenship, despite having been recognized by the government as Dominicans for their whole lives, on the basis of a supposed irregular birth registration. 

In addition to the principle of non-retroactivity and the requirement of legal certainty, this judgment violates at least fifteen articles of the Dominican Constitution, not to mention its violations of international law. It violates, among other things: the right to a name and nationality; the decisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which are binding on the Dominican Republic, for example in the case of Yean and Bosico in 2005, which established criteria that were completely disregarded by the Constitutional Court; the rule of lenity, which must prevail in favor of the individual when rulings of equal weight are in conflict; the principle of equality and fairness before the law, because the judgment only refers to descendants of Haitian immigrants and discriminates against some Dominicans on the basis of their ancestry; and the guarantees of due process, because the judgment will affect generations of people who were not part of the proceedings that led to this decision.

It is regrettable that this judgment constitutes a violation of international law, is openly in contempt of the judgments of the Inter-American Human Rights System, and, as such, should be criticized by the international community. But, even more lamentably, nationality is used as a vehicle to divide the Dominican population. As a result, tens of thousands of people will have difficulty attending school, working in the formal economic sector, receiving medical insurance, opting into a pension fund, obtaining civil marriage, registering their children's births, opening bank accounts, purchasing homes, obtaining inheritance, and even leaving the country that now rejects them because they cannot obtain or renew a passport.

We invite you to visit the blog, http://dominicanosxderecho.wordpress.com/, or the Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages of "Dominican@s por Derecho" for more information about the judgment, its consequences, and possible actions in support. 

Many people and institutions, from diverse backgrounds, have rallied against this abhorrent "civil genocide." With your help, we can stand with those affected by this ruling. We appreciate your attention and ask for your support to put an end to this, because, Eso no se hace/This is not okay.


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Mr Christian Fuchs
communicationsdirector@jesuit.org
202-629-5946