IACHR Publishes Report:
"Situation of Human Rights in Dominican Republic"
This report in presented to examine the situation created by judgment 168/13 of the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court on September 23, 2013 with regard to the rights to nationality, legal personality, equality and non-discrimination, as well as other related human rights.
Furthermore, the report will also make recommendations to ensure that the policies, laws and practices of the Dominican Republic are in compliance with the international obligations that the State voluntarily undertook in the area of human rights.
The Right to Nationality, Collective Expulsions and Racial Profiling
No Other Option
The establishment of racial profiles tends to single out individuals or groups in a discriminatory way based on the erroneous assumption that people with such characteristics are prone to engage in specific types of crimes.
The fact that a person has been born on the territory of a State is the only fact that needs to be proved for the acquisition of nationality, in the case of those persons who would not have the right to another nationality if they did not acquire that of the State where they were born.
I/A Court H.R., Case of the Girls Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic. Judgment of September 8, 2005.
IACHR On-site Visit to the Dominican Republic
The IACHR visited the Dominican Republic between December 2 and 6, 2013. The Commission regrets the Constitutional Court’s decision to refuse to meet with the Commission.
3,342 persons turned to the Commission during the visit and made claims concerning their own situation, as well as claims that concerned other persons, usually family members. In all, claims about the situation of 5,092 people were received.
Issuance of Birth Certificates
Registration of Children
Migration and Persons of Haitian Descent
In total, 1,843 said that they had been adversely affected by the Constitutional Court’s judgment 168/13.
Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
Photo credit: Sanaa Boutayeb/IACHR
Photo credit: Daniel Cima for IACHR
Right to Equality and Non-Discrimination
These problems are only faced by Dominicans whose parents or grandparents are from Haiti. It is a result of structural racism in the Dominican Republic. All Dominicans of Haitian descent, or those perceived as such, are suffering from a situation of structural discrimination, in all regards and at all levels, which deprives it of the enjoyment and exercise of its human rights.
The Commission has not received complaints or information on Dominicans of foreign descent, who were not of Haitian descent, who had faced barriers in recognition of their nationality, in access to the civil registry, as well as their identity documents.
This discrimination has been fostered by the activities of certain authorities, political parties, and business and social actors within the Dominican Republic.
Right to Education Without Any Discrimination
Although Dominican law recognizes that the right to education must be guaranteed without any discrimination, including those based on distinctions by nationality, race, economic and social position or of any other nature, the Commission received many testimonies of serious acts of discrimination in education.
The judgment 168/13 and the existing discriminatory situation have prevented children and adolescents of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic, from continuing their studies at school or in college. Teachers and school authorities require them birth certificate or an identification card, which the authorities refuse to hand.
Out of the 3,342 people who provided information and testimonies during the visit, 620 situations where these people or their relatives had faced obstacles in regard to the right to education were recorded.
Situation of Vulnerability
Arbitrary deprivation of Dominican nationality and legal status generates multiple violations to human rights.
One of the problems they face is the lack of job options. The testimonies indicate that it is virtually impossible to get work, and when they do, they pay less than the minimum wage.
Consequences of Denationalization
1- That children can not continue their basic education;
2- Can not enroll in higher education;
3- Unable to pay contributions to the Social Security System;
4- Unable to access certain health services;
5- No access to decent work;
6- Unable to get married or divorced;
7- Unable to register the birth of a child;
8- Unable to open a bank account;
9- Unable to obtain travel documents such as passports and therefore not able to travel internationally;
10- Unable to perform contracts;
11- Unable to buy or transfer property;
12- Unable to perform an affidavit;
13- Unable to vote and run for public office;
Workers in sugar cane plantations are still facing restrictions on their freedom of movement and residence, being forced to live in bateyes closed and guarded by armed guards.
In some cases cane cutters continue to be paid with vouchers and not with money.
In addition to the situations described above, this situation has led to a constant uncertainty that has had an impact on the physical and psychological integrity of the individuals concerned. To which must be added the constant fear of these people to be arrested and expelled from their country by not having identity papers.
In this regard, the Commission is of the view that the magnitude and protracted nature of this problem and of the repeated, ongoing violations of multiple human rights of the Dominicans of Haitian descent point to the existence of an inconventional state of affairs.
Intolerance and Incitement to Violence
The publication of Constitutional Court judgment 168/13 created a climate of hostility towards those who were critical of the judgment and who have defended the right of Dominicans of Haitian descent to Dominican nationality.
The expressions used against journalists, intellectuals, human rights defenders, and public figures critical of the judgment have taken an alarmingly aggressive tone, thereby fueling racism and xenophobia.
Critics of the Judgment Have Been Called “Traitors to the Homeland,” and Public Demonstrations Have Been Staged Under the Slogan “Death to the Traitors.”
These alleged threats and acts of intimidation elicited no response from the Dominican authorities.
Intolerance and racist discourse makes persons of Haitian descent all the more vulnerable to discrimination and violence.
The report also covers violations of human rights of Haitian migrants in relation to immigration operations and due process; access to justice and guarantees of due process for Dominicans of Haitian descent.Read chapter 5 of the Report