On Thursday, October 28th, during its 140th Period of Sessions, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held a hearing on the Dominican Republic’s revised constitution and its impact on the right to nationality of individuals within its borders, specifically those of Haitian descent.

The thematic hearing was requested by the non-governmental organizations Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Movement of Dominican-Haitian Women (MUDHA), the Dominican-Haitian Jacques Viau Network (RJV), the Open Society Justice Initiative, and Global Rights.  The petitioners raised concerns about the application of the 2004 migration law (Law 285-04) and the revised constitution, which was promulgated in January 2010.  The 2004 migration law broadened the definition of individuals “in transit” to “non-residents,” including individuals with expired residency visas and undocumented workers.  The constitution revised nationality provisions such that the children of non-residents are no longer guaranteed Dominican nationality by birthright.

The petitioners were moreover concerned that the law was being applied retroactively, affecting children born in Dominican territory prior to its enactment, which contravenes the Dominican constitution.  Finally, the petitioners expressed concern about the implications the law has on the ability of Dominicans of Haitian descent to access health care, education, employment, property, and other civil and political rights, concerns which were echoed by the Commissioners.  The Commissioners also questioned whether there is a procedure whereby individuals who may be stateless can present their cases so that they might be considered for nationality on that basis.  The representatives of the Dominican Republic reiterated the country’s right to sovereignty and the ultimate authority of its Supreme Court of Justice in codifying the country’s laws.  The representatives also highlighted the steps the country had taken to improve the laws regarding late birth registrations so that fewer children lack identity documents.  The State ended by raising the challenge it faces with respect to protecting its borders from an influx of undocumented migrants, meanwhile reiterating its good will towards its neighbor, Haiti.

[Escuche el webcast en Español]