3 October 2013
At least 22,000 people are under threat of deportation from the Dominican Republic after a court ruled that anyone born after 1929 - to immigrant parents without valid ID - will lose their citizenship.
Last week, the Dominican Constitutional Court decided that people born on Dominican soil in the last 80 years to parents who were 'in transit' and without legal documentation will become ‘stateless’, affecting all descendants of immigrants, mainly Haitians.
They will no longer have Dominican rights, despite it being their native country and their only home. Officially, 22,000 people have been affected, but unofficially it is expected to be much higher.
What does this mean?
Identification documents - a birth certificate or ID card - which proves Dominican nationality, is needed to apply for a job, register the birth of a baby or to enrol at school or university.
Therefore, without documentation, stateless people cannot access education, apply for secure jobs or have a legitimate family.
It also means that thousands of people could be repatriated to Haiti.
However, Haitian authorities will have no knowledge of their existence and little administrative capacity to receive them. Furthermore, the repatriates will have no documentation to make their status in Haiti any more formal.
A longstanding issue
Tension between the Dominican Republic and Haiti goes back to the first wave of Haitian migrants who worked on sugar cane plantations at the beginning of the 20th century.
Since 2007, our partners have reported that thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent have been denied access to copies or renewals of their ID.
This podcast explains more about the situation and the exclusion that Haitian migrants and their descendants have faced historically and continue to face now.
What happens now?
Over the next year, thousands of people born from 1929 onwards will have to present their birth certificates or ID cards to the courts to verify their validity.
Those without documents deemed as valid will be stripped of their Dominican citizenship and will be at risk of deportation.
Our partners, MUDHA and Centro Bonó, have released a statement to the Dominican press as part of a coalition of organisations to denounce the ruling and express their outrage and concern at the possible consequences of this ruling.
They point out that it violates 15 articles of the Dominican Constitution and numerous international laws.
They are organising various mass protests over the next few weeks to stand in solidarity with the people affected and will be campaigning both nationally and internationally for their citizenship to be restored.
Find out more