6 octobre 2013
Robert Kennedy Center Calls on Dominican Republic to Restore Citizenship to 240,000
Discriminatory Ruling by Dominican Court Threatens Citizenship
Latin American Herald - Caracas, Sunday October 6,2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On September 23, in the case of Juliana Dequis Pierre (TC/0168/13), the Dominican Republic's highest court retroactively altered the criteria for citizenship under the constitution for those born to foreign parents between 1929 and 2009 -- a decision which could leave hundreds of thousands of Dominicans stateless. Today, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights (RFK Center) wrote an open letter to President Danilo Medina of the Dominican Republic expressing concern over the court's highly unfounded ruling, which runs directly counter to the Dominican government's obligations under international law including the American Convention on Human Rights and the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of Yean y Bosico.
In the letter, RFK Center President Kerry Kennedy and Director of RFK Partners for Human Rights Santiago A. Canton urge President Medina "to ensure your government fully complies with its international human rights obligations and does not take any action that would result in an increase in stateless persons nor the arbitrary or discriminatory deprivation of the right to nationality."
In June, the RFK Center and its partners won protective measures for 80 Dominicans of Haitian descent, including Ms. Dequis
Pierre, whose rights as citizens were already under grave threat even before the Court's recent ruling. In light of recent events, the RFK Center is now working with Dominican partners to bring an additional challenge to the Constitutional Court's ruling before international human rights bodies.
"The international community cannot stand by in the face of this state-sponsored xenophobia on such a massive scale. Nationality is the inherent right of every human being, and one of the most fundamental of all human rights," said Kerry Kennedy, President of the RFK Center. "No court has the authority to render its own citizens stateless."
"This is likely one of the most discriminatory decisions ever made by a superior tribunal," said Santiago A. Canton, director of RFK Partners for Human Rights at the RFK Center. "With blatant disregard for the Dominican Republic's international human rights obligations, this decision specifically targets Dominican citizens of Haitian descent, threatening them with statelessness."
To date, the government has failed to make progress on promises made over a decade ago to provide a clear path for the descendants of migrants to register and maintain their Dominican citizenship. Without a viable opportunity to claim their rightful citizenship last week's ruling will inevitably amount to an arbitrary and discriminatory deprivation of citizenship of more than 240,000 people (according to the United Nations)--largely targeting those of Haitian descent. Many of those affected by the decision do not speak Creole, the native language in Haiti, and have no ties to outside countries, thus this decision would leave them stateless and vulnerable to marginalization.
Even Dominicans whose grandparents were born in the country and who have already been issued valid birth certificates will be
impacted. After the Constitutional Court's decision many of those born in the Dominican Republic will not have access to identity cards, putting them in limbo without access to crucial public services or other protections as citizens.