UNHCR urges Dominican Republic to restore nationality

Press Releases, 5 December 2013

UNHCR urges the Dominican Republic to rapidly take steps to restore the nationality of individuals affected by a ruling of the Constitutional Court, which deprives tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their nationality, rendering them stateless.

UNHCR expresses deep concern that two months after the ruling, the situation of this population has not yet been adequately addressed by the authorities. This week, the Dominican Government announced its intention to submit to Congress a bill to allow the affected population to apply for naturalization.

As a result of this proposed measure, individuals who have been considered Dominican citizens their entire lives will need to apply for naturalization.

International legal standards require that the Government automatically restores the nationality of all individuals affected by the ruling and respects their acquired rights. A simple and rapid procedure is needed so that they can obtain their identity documents.

On 23 September, a ruling by the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic introduced a new interpretation of the criteria for acquisition of Dominican nationality with regard to children of irregular migrants born in the country.

The Court decided to apply the new criteria retroactively to 1929 and, as a result, concluded that several generations of Dominicans of Haitian descent, many officially registered as Dominican citizens at birth, no longer meet the criteria for Dominican nationality.

UNHCR emphasizes that the individuals affected by the judgment are not migrants and that they have deep roots in the country. The organization encourages the Dominican Republic to recognize and take action to resolve this human rights problem.

UNHCR has a mandate from the UN General Assembly to identify, prevent and reduce statelessness and protect stateless persons.

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