Dom Rep court ruling strips thousands of citizenship

Dom Rep court ruling strips thousands of citizenship

Friday, September 27, 2013

Print this page Email A Friend!

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — The Dominican Republic's top court yesterday stripped citizenship from thousands of people born to illegal migrants, a category that overwhelmingly includes Haitians brought from their neighbouring homeland to work on farms.

The decision cannot be appealed, and it affects all those born since 1929.

The Constitutional Court's ruling says officials are studying birth certificates of more than 16,000 people and notes that electoral authorities have refused to issue identity documents to 40,000 people of Haitian descent.

The decision, which gives the electoral commission a year to produce a list of those to be excluded, is a blow to activists who have tried to block what they call "denationalisation" of many residents.

"This is outrageous," said Ana Maria Belique, spokeswoman for a non-profit group that has fought for the rights of migrants' children. "It's an injustice based on prejudice and xenophobia."

The court ruled that all Haitian migrants who came to the Dominican Republic to work in sugar-cane fields after 1929 were in transit, and thus their children are not automatically entitled to Dominican citizenship just because they were born here.

The Economy Ministry recently calculated that some 500,000 migrants born in Haiti now live in the Dominican Republic, but it gave no estimate for the number of people of Haitian descent living in the country. The Dominican Republic's total population is a little over 10 million.

David Abraham, a law professor at the University of Miami, said the decision is part of a larger effort to block Haitians from entering the Dominican Republic and to encourage self-deportation.

"The fear of the Dominican Republic of being pulled down to the level of Haiti, economically, and the blackening of the country, has been an obsession of Dominican politicians for well over a century," he said.

Those affected by the ruling are basically left in limbo because a 2004 law that would have addressed the status of those born to migrants living illegally in the Dominican Republic was never applied.

Belique and others said they would likely seek help from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which in turn might submit the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Jorge Duany, an anthropology professor at Florida International University who has studied the migration of Dominicans in the Caribbean, said the decision comes after countless years of friction between the two countries, which share the island of Hispaniola.

"The impact could be truly catastrophic," he said. "They are stigmatising an entire Haitian population."

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus

If there were no government COVID restrictions, and people were able to decide for themselves about how to manage their risk, how soon would you return to your normal activities?
Right now
After new cases decline
After no new cases
After vaccine developed
I've already returned to my normal routine


Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon