Monday, December 30, 2013

Dominican Republic revokes citizenship of 350,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent

The international community has justifiably condemned a decision by the supreme court of the Dominican Republic revoking the citizenship of as many as 350,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent. Unfortunately, that decision in September was just the latest in a pattern of cynical, partisan actions that threaten the rule of law and economic growth in that nation.

Dominicans of goodwill must act to restore the probity and independence of their institutions to secure a better future for all of its citizens.

Early this month, the respected Inter-American Commission on Human Rights paid an urgent visit to that country to study the implications of the decision to retroactively apply a 2010 constitutional amendment that redefined citizenship rights, effectively stripping multitudes of their “right to nationality.” The commission urgently issued a series of unambiguous recommendations insisting that the Dominican state take “simple, clear, fast, and fair” steps to “guarantee the right to nationality of those individuals who already had this right” before the ruling.

The court’s decision has been defended as a measure needed to address legitimate concerns over illegal immigration. However, even before this draconian court decision was issued, electoral authorities had refused to provide voter identification cards to thousands of persons of Haitian background.

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