“To be a stateless person, it’s like you’re standing still
and the world moves on around you,”
Maureen Lynch, Refugees International.
Tensions between the Dominican Republic and Haiti have a long history. Currently, one of the most concerning issues pertaining to these tensions, deals with individuals who are born in Dominican soil and whose parents are Haitian. These children, along with many adults, are without identification documents. Many have been denied birth certificates and state IDs. Without these documents these individuals are barred access to basic and essential services.
Recently, Dominican President Danilo Medina met with representatives from UN agencies to discuss the situation concerning children of foreign mothers (the majority of which are of Haitian descent) that are currently without an identity. President Medina expressed his concern for the situation and reiterated a desire to find a solution. He also, however, expressed his inability to do anything about the situation, claiming that it was not up to him. President Medina told UN representative Lorenzo Jiménez that it is a case under the jurisdiction of another Dominican government power, the Central Electoral Board (Junta Central Electoral), in which he has no say.
The issue also revolves around the language of the Constitutions of both nations. Article 11 of the Haitian constitution establishes that “[a]ny person born of a Haitian father or Haitian mother who are themselves native-born Haitians and have never renounced their nationality possesses Haitian nationality at the time of birth.” While, as Ambassador Aníbal de Castro explains, “the principle of jus soli contained in the Constitution of the Dominican Republic […] qualified by Paragraph 1, Article 11, […] excludes from acquiring Dominican nationality the legitimate children of foreigners residing in the country on diplomatic missions or those who are in transit.”
But there’s more: in 2007, the Dominican government issued Resolution 12, authorizing a suspension of identity documents issued to children of foreigners who had not proved their legal status and as a result many Dominican-Haitians were stripped of their citizenship and official documentation. While many people continue to petition to international organizations and the Dominican Government, and movements like “Reconoci.do” have brought about awareness and continue to work to change the situation, no official change has taken place.
While the Central Electoral Board has stated that it is conducting investigations, it seems to me that there is just a continuous pointing of fingers and no official work is taking place.
What do you think? What are some potential solutions?
Aníbal de Castro Quote [The Economist]
This issue although it seems as it is rooted in politics has a great socio-economical roots. Former Dominican president Leonel Fernandez won a further term in office using the electoral slogan “Pa’lante” (“moving forward”). His campaign was strongly based on his goals of modernizing and developing the island nation. The recent ruling of the Dominican Supreme Court restricting the rights of Dominican born individuals with Haitian heritage seems more like a moonwalk backwards. Regardless of the fact that these people have automatic access to Haitian nationality they were born within the four corners of the Dominican Republic. Their parents immigrated to the neighboring island for opportunities only to find that their search for a better life for themselves and their families was welcomed with an embrace and a slap. If the United States suddenly decided not to grant citizenship to Mexicans or Middle Easterner’s the international community would be up in arms. The same distaste and disdain that would this preceding idea would be received with ought to be conveyed to the legislature of the Dominican Republic. The only interest that this policy serves is discrimination and it serves as nothing more that a catalyst to the already poor relations of the neighboring nations.