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Dominican Republic: A step in the right direction

29 May 2014

A new law passed by the Dominican government last week puts an end to months of uncertainty for tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent who were at risk of becoming stateless.

The law has been cautiously welcomed by our partners, but it still excludes many.

People holding banners and placards

Protesters hold signs saying: 'I am Dominican like you.' Photo credit: Centro Bono

Recap: what happened in September 2013

A previous ruling, passed last September, stated that anyone born after 1929 to immigrant parents without valid ID would lose their Dominican nationality.

Put simply, that's like someone telling you that despite the fact you were born in the UK and you've been a UK citizen all your life, suddenly your citizenship is no longer valid because your parents were immigrants.

Since the September ruling was passed, we and our partners have spoken out against the law at national and international levels, calling for the full restoration of Dominican nationality for the tens of thousands of people affected.

The new law

Thanks to the lobbying of our partners and others, a new law was passed on 15 May 2014 that blocks – but cannot overturn - the September ruling. 

It states that the Dominican government will now accept all Dominicans of Haitian descent who are officially registered under the Dominican civil registry and have existing identity papers.

  • We and our local partners welcome this decision as a small but significant step forward.'

However, those who were born in the country but do not appear on the civil registry will have to register as migrants and may later apply for naturalisation.

As partner organisations Reconoci.do and MUDHA have pointed out, this could mean that in a family one person could be considered a Dominican national while a brother or sister who was never registered will be considered a foreigner.

They state: ‘For us this continues to be unacceptable.’

A small but significant step forward

We and our local partner organisations have cautiously welcomed the new law.

Frankelly Martínez, our Senior Programme Officer in the Dominican Republic, says: 'Christian Aid and our local partners welcome this decision as a small but significant step forward for those already granted identity documents that were in the process of being revoked.'

However, we will continue to monitor the implementation of the law and speak out on behalf of those whose situation remains unresolved.

More information

This podcast explains more about the issue of statelessness in the Dominican Republic, its history and the day-to-day exclusion of Haitian migrants and their descendants in the Dominican Republic.

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