Above: a protest in Santo Domingo over the ongoing citizenship issue (UN Photo/J Tanner)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
A group of United Nations human rights experts is urging the Dominican Republic to “adopt the necessary legal measures to restore Dominican citizenship for all those born in the country but not registered at birth.”
The call by the UN’s Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent came after the Dominican Republic recently enacted a law to provide for a path to citizenship for those born to migrants in the country.
The law came after a controversial constitutional court ruling last year that effectively stripped as many as several hundred thousand Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship, on the grounds that they had been born to non-resident migrants in the country and were thus not citizens.
In a statement, the group said the Dominican Republic’s recent law was an “important step towards rectifying the situation by which tens of thousands of persons of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic were rendered stateless by a ruling of the Constitutional Court on 23 September 2013.”
“However, it is crucial to restore citizenship of those born in the Dominican Republic who were not registered at birth, and who represent a large majority,” said Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, who leads the working group. “It is essential to have an effective and transparent process to ensure that the citizenship of these people is restored at the earliest.”
She said such a move would “effectively reinforce the fight against discrimination and social exclusion faced mostly by people of African descent in the country.”