Dominican ruling strips many of citizenship

September 27, 2013
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Associated PressBy EZEQUIEL ABIU LOPEZ and DANICA COTO | Associated Press – 12 hrs ago

  • FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2013 file photo, a youth of Haitian descent holds a sign that reads in Spanish "I'm Dominican" during a protest demanding that President Danilo Medina stop the process to invalidate their birth certificates after authorities retained their ID cards, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic's top court on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 stripped citizenship from thousands of people born to migrants who came illegally, a category that overwhelmingly includes Haitians brought in to work on farms. The decision cannot be appealed, and it affects all those born since 1929. (AP Photo/Ezequiel Abiu Lopez, File)

    View PhotoAssociated Press/Ezequiel Abiu Lopez, File – FILE – In this Aug. 12, 2013 file photo, a youth of Haitian descent holds a sign that reads in Spanish “I’m Dominican” during a protest demanding that …more

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — The Dominican Republic’s top court on Thursday stripped citizenship from thousands of people born to migrants who came illegally, a category that overwhelmingly includes Haitians brought in 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 “denationalization” of many residents.

“This is outrageous,” said Ana Maria Belique, spokeswoman for a nonprofit group that has fought for the rights of migrants’ children. “It’s an injustice based on prejudice and xenophobia.”

Until 2010, the Dominican Republic followed the principle of automatically bestowing citizenship to anyone born on its soil. But the court ruled that all Haitian migrants who came to work in Dominican sugarcane fields after 1929 were in transit, and thus their children were not automatically entitled to 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.

The office of Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe declined to comment.

Edwin Paraison, a former Haitian Cabinet minister who has been working to improve relations between the two nations, criticized the court and warned that the ruling could hurt Dominicans. “The sentence expresses a rejection of the Haitian diaspora while setting a dangerous precedent that can be reproduced, if appropriate action isn’t taken, against other immigrant communities, including Dominicans, in several countries worldwide,” he said in an email.

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

He cited the racial differences between predominantly black Haitians and mixed-race Dominicans as well as Haiti’s plight as one of the world’s poorest countries.

“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.

The Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic and Creole-speaking Haiti share the island of Hispaniola and have a long, troubled history.

Haiti invaded and took over the Dominican Republic for more than 20 years in the 19th century. Then in 1937, Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered the massacre of an estimated 20,000 Haitians as he sought to expel them from the country.

After Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people, the Dominican Republic temporarily halted deportations and helped with relief efforts. It was a rare break in tensions that have since resumed.

Dominican lawyer Cristobal Rodriguez, who opposes the ruling, said the court disregarded the principle of law retroactivity by applying the criteria of a new constitution approved in 2010 to people born decades earlier.

Those affected by the court’s 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.

“This ruling cuts against the rights of thousands of people born in the Dominican Republic, and could immediately undermine their access to education and health services,” Reed Brody, counsel and spokesman for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “It’s also likely to discourage an entire community from seeking help when they suffer abuses, for fear of authorities learning their status.”

In Port-au-Prince, construction worker Jean Ronald said he was disheartened by the ruling but wouldn’t be discouraged from crossing the border when he needs a job.

“This isn’t going to stop me, because I need to find work on the other side of the island,” Ronald, a single, 32-year-old father of two boys, said at a construction site in Port-au-Prince. “Life is a risk, and I’m going to take that risk.”

Activists 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.

“The impact could be truly catastrophic,” he said. “They are stigmatizing an entire Haitian population.”

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Associated Press writer Ezequiel Abiu Lopez reported this story in Santo Domingo and Danica Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. AP writers Trenton Daniel and Evens Sanon in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, contributed to this report.

One Response to “ Dominican ruling strips many of citizenship ”

  1. Help the Hispaniolians People understand on September 30, 2013 at

    “el deguello de moca” The HAITIAN HISTORIANS need to jump on this dangerous history that I believe is extremely flawed and should be challenged. It is one of the main reasons for the actions of Raphael Trujillo against Haitian. It is no secrete that this is why a huge amount of Dominicans hate Haitians. Spain did a lot of brain washing wherever they went. This can be seen even in the Philippines. Wherever they colonized the people seem to think that they are Spaniard and reject their other victimized ancestry. Haitians are mixed with french but for the most part they don’t claim it because most of that is do to rape. The same with Spain and Dominicans but try telling this to Dominicans. When Haitian killed the people that were trying to enslave them “again”, Haitians did it on a wide scale to Spain and to France. However, the Dominicans view this killing of Spaniards as the killing of what would become the Dominicans. They Identify mainly as these colonizing,enslaving, raping people (ancient Spaniards). The Slaves that became the Haitians Cleaned out France and Spain. However, they left the little Indians that were left and the Mulattoes, and the Blacks for certain. However, Haiti in 1805 (the same year) secured the eastern part of the Island to ensure Spain did not come back. This was the pinnacle of eradicating slavery in the western world. The People that would become Dominicans are even protected in the Haiti 1805 Constitutions. They are included in it as Haitians. Even whites were protected by Jean-Jacques Dessaline. This proves he only had a problem with whites he did not trust or that would enslave them again. The Germans and the Polanders were protected. Dominicans are still hating Haitians for something even if it was entirely true would have nothing to do with today’s future generations (1805-2013 is a long time).Some are proud of Raphael Trujillo’s Killings! They never understand that Haiti’s invasive entries even after they became the Dominican republic was due to fear of Spain returning and eventually conquering west Hispaniola (Haiti). They see it all as an attack on them(that even means them in this present day.)Killing Frenchmen and Spaniard was a massacre but if you have been enslaved and listened to your 10-year-old-daughter being raped by a 50 year old slave-master and all you could do is keep working the fields, then you would understand how these slaves revolted the way they did. If you are a mother and you just gave birth to your baby and someone comes and sells him or her then you would understand a revolution without mercy. If you understand that Toussaint Louverture tried the diplomatic approach first then you would understand. Besides that who do you spare in war time? especially ancient wars? This is very brief so forgive my all over the place type of writing. The Dominicans have some serious history problem. They even for the most part reject being black and claim Indian if they are evidently dark. They don’t realized that Haiti use to have a better economy then them in the past.I had to tell one that his last name did not mean that he was necessarily Spaniard. However, that it may very well mean that his black and Indian ancestors that he denies may have been OWNED by Spaniards until the Haitians put an End to that. The reason that I bring this up is because it is why we are seeing this citizenship problems. Check it out. even the comments are evil.

    http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/poverty/2013/2/12/46685/Descendants-of-Haitians-bear-a-cross-for-a-nationality

    The Dominican government is subliminally disrespecting Haitian and they(Haitians) don’t see it. How? They talk about Haitian in 1929 regarding citizenship. However, they know very well what Raphael Trujillo did to those Haitians. This is not only a no win situation for Haitians born in the DR, but a slap in the face to the Haitians that were Massacred and to Haitians today. We Need to all contact famous Haitian Historians that we know to verify these possibly flawed and destructive-historical claims.