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American States, humanitarian groups united in concern about statelessness in Dominican Republic
October 31, 2013

American States, humanitarian groups united in concern about statelessness in Dominican Republic
Jesuit Refugee Service is concerned that this ruling creates a climate in which people of foreign descent—or perceived to be of foreign descent—are more vulnerable to due process violations during enforcement activities. (Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)
The concerns expressed by the Member States of the OAS are similar to those expressed by the undersigned human rights organizations, in the sense that this constitutes a discriminatory and retroactive application of the deprivation of nationality of those persons registered to foreign parents beginning in 1929, a situation that disproportionately affects the Dominican population of Haitian descent.
(Washington D.C.) October 31, 2013 — Jesuit Refugee Service and other humanitarian organizations share the concerns of the Organization of American States about the recent ruling issued by the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic that could arbitrarily deprive thousands of Dominicans of foreign descent of their nationality.

A statement from JRS and other humanitarian organizations follows:

On Tuesday October 29, 2013, Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) discussed in their Permanent Council the impact of the recent ruling (TC 168/13) issued by the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic which could arbitrarily deprive thousands of people of their nationality.

The Caribbean state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines introduced the topic before the organization in order to call attention to possible violations of the right to nationality and non-discrimination, and to the retroactive application of law that the implementation of the ruling would involve.

Representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, Mexico, the United States, and Canada, among others, expressed similar concerns about human rights violations involved in the execution of the Constitutional Court ruling.

In particular, the Jamaican delegation called on the Dominican Republic to rectify the situation and said they could not be indifferent in the face of hundreds of Caribbean people losing their nationality, an outcome which would damage the brotherhood between nations. Guyana pointed out that about 200,000 people would lose their nationality as a result of the ruling. Antigua and Barbuda stated that the ruling is contrary to the recent adoption of the Inter-American Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination and For Tolerance.

The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, recognized that this is a problem of general preoccupation and thus concerns all American States. He noted that the OAS has already spoken through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the agency responsible for ensuring the protection of human rights in the organization. He also recalled that this ruling disregards the relevant standards established in the case of the Yean and Bosico, issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2005 against the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic limited its response to explaining the content of the ruling and the measures for its implementations, arguing that it would not enter into a debate about the points expressed, given its belief that the topic was being discussed without knowledge of the full content of the analyzed sentence. The Dominican delegation promised to facilitate an in loco visit by the Commission so that it can do thorough research on the issue.

The concerns expressed by the Member States of the OAS are similar to those expressed by the undersigned human rights organizations, in the sense that this constitutes a discriminatory and retroactive application of the deprivation of nationality of those persons registered to foreign parents beginning in 1929, a situation that disproportionately affects the Dominican population of Haitian descent.

Organizational Signatures:

• Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
• Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami
• Human Rights Clinic at Santa Clara University 
• Jesuit Refugee Service/USA


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