UNHCR welcomes Dominican Republic move on citizenship

UNHCR welcomes Dominican Republic move on citizenship

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

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WASHINGTON, United States — UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency said today that it welcomes a decision by the Dominican Republic to allow the naturalisation of around 750 people born and raised in the country who were previously deprived of citizenship due to the immigration status of their parents.

“This gives hope and dignity to hundreds of stateless people whose lives had been in limbo for many years. We commend the Government of the Dominican Republic for taking this important step towards finding nationality solutions for people born and raised in the country, and we look forward to continued constructive cooperation with the government to find practical solutions for everyone's benefit,” said Matthew Reynolds, UNHCR representative for the United States and the Caribbean.

The decision, announced by presidential decree on July 16, eased restrictions imposed in a ruling by the Dominican Constitutional Court known as Judgment 168-13, which was issued seven years ago on September 23, 2013.

That ruling affirmed that children born in the Dominican Republic to parents with irregular immigration status were not entitled to Dominican citizenship. Its application also resulted in the revocation of nationality for thousands of people who were born in the Dominican Republic, most of them of Haitian descent.

“It also effectively blocked their access to fundamental rights and basic public services such as higher education and health care, which are available only to Dominican citizens,” UNHCR said.

The presidential decree was issued in accordance with Law 169-14, a multi-party agreement passed in 2014 to mitigate the impact of the Constitutional Court's ruling which has resulted so far in the recognition of Dominican nationality and documentation of over 26,000 people.

“Still, there are thousands of people in the Dominican Republic who remain without a nationality, as they are not recognised as citizens under the law of any country. UNHCR encourages the government to continue working on a solution for the additional estimated 6,400 persons who have filed applications for naturalisation,” the agency said.

“UNHCR will continue supporting the government's work in the Dominican Republic to fulfil the #IBelong Campaign objective of ending statelessness globally by 2024. This objective, which is in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aims to leave no one behind and to guarantee the right to a nationality for all,” UNHCR said.

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