October 23, 2013
(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. The ruling says that the nationality of all individuals of “migrant background” born in the Dominican Republic since 1929 must be examined.
Without access to the nationality to which they are entitled, these individuals are unable to attend school, work in the formal economic sector, receive medical insurance, obtain civil marriage, register their children’s births, open bank accounts, purchase homes, obtain inheritance, and even leave the country that now rejects them because they cannot obtain or renew a passport.
In collaboration with Centro Bonó, a Jesuit organization based in the Dominican Republic, and in solidarity with the affected Dominicans of foreign descent, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is taking part in the Day of Action Against Statelessness in the Dominican Republic. Along with several other organizations, we will be delivering the letter below to the Dominican embassy here in the District of Colombia.
We invite you to join us by signing this petition expressing your support for Dominicans of foreign descent and writing about it on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtags #EsoNoSeHaceRD and #SentenciaTC to connect with others taking action.
Potential messages include:
• The #SentenciaTC violates 15 articles of the Constitution that it says it’s defending #EsoNoSeHaceRD
• With #SentenciaTC the govt will denationalize 4 generations of ppl who were Dominicans under the Constitution for 8 generations
• I support the right to nationality of ALL Dominicans #SentenciaTC
• My _______ was an irregular migrant. Can’t imagine someone using that to take away my nationality! #EsoNoSeHaceRD #SentenciaTC
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.