Target: President Danilo Medina
Goal: Prevent hundreds of thousands of Dominican citizens from having their nationality revoked, leaving them at risk of statelessness
When Juliana Deguis Pierre’s birth certificate was seized by the Dominican Republic’s Central Electoral Board in 2008, she could hardly have expected that her fight to get it back would result in a court decision that violated international treaties and put hundreds of thousands of Dominicans at risk of statelessness–but that is precisely what happened. Sign the petition and tell the Dominican Republic not to deprive Juliana Deguis Pierre–and many others like her–of their Dominican nationality.
Pierre’s birth certificate was seized by the Central Electoral Board on the sole grounds that her names “are Haitian.” Indeed, Pierre’s parents were migrant workers from Haiti, but Pierre was born in the Dominican Republic. Because her parents “could not prove their regular migration status in the Dominican Republic,” the Dominican Constitutional Court ruled that Pierre “had been wrongly registered as Dominican at her birth.” The decision effectively deprives Pierre of nationality anywhere, leaving her, in the words of Amnesty International, “unable to exercise [her] human rights, including access to education, employment and health services, the right to vote, and the right to marry and found a family.”
Until recently under Dominican law, citizenship was automatically granted to any child born within the country, except for children whose parents were diplomats or were “in transit.” “Transit” was defined as being a period of time fewer than ten days, which made children of migrant workers eligible for Dominican citizenship. In 2004, however, the law changed, expanding the definition of “transit” to cover “persons with expired residency visas and undocumented migrant workers.” The government has been retroactively applying the new law, and it is under these circumstances that Juliana Deguis Pierre had her nationality revoked.
The main problem with this application of the law is that it violates a number of international treaties that the Dominican Republic has signed. Under Article 8 of the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, no country may revoke a person’s nationality if doing so “would render them stateless.” Additionally, the American Convention on Human Rights states that “[e]very person has the right to the nationality of the State in whose territory he was born if he does not have the right to any other nationality” (Article 20). The Dominican Republic’s 2004 law–and its retroactive execution of it–violates both the spirit and the letter of these agreements.
Do not allow the Dominican Republic to deny hundreds of thousands of people one of their most basic human rights. Sign the petition and demand that Juliana Deguis Pierre and other people of “disputed” nationality be allowed to retain their Dominican citizenship, and urge the immediate revision of the 2004 Migration Law.
Nationality is one of the things we take most for granted in the world. However, a recent court ruling leaves hundreds of thousands of Dominican citizens teetering precariously on the verge of statelessness. Please do not allow this easily avoidable human rights crisis to occur. Uphold the Dominican Republic’s obligations under international law and revise the 2004 Migration Act.
The Dominican Constitutional Court’s decision to uphold the seizure of Juliana Deguis Pierre’s birth certificate by the Central Electoral Board on the grounds that her names “are Haitian” is a gross violation of the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, of which the Dominican Republic is a signatory. Under Article 8 of the convention, no country may revoke a person’s nationality if doing so “would render them stateless,” writes Amnesty International. Furthermore, the American Convention on Human Rights states that “[e]very person has the right to the nationality of the State in whose territory he was born if he does not have the right to any other nationality” (Article 20).
Revoking Juliana Deguis Pierre’s citizenship sets two dangerous precedents. First and foremost, it puts a huge population of current Dominican citizens at risk of statelessness, a violation of their most basic human rights. Secondly, it disproportionately targets Haitians and discriminates against them based on their names.
This is among the most easily avoidable humanitarian crises in the world right now. Do not allow the Dominican Republic’s courts system to become synonymous with “human rights violations.” Honor the Dominican Republic’s obligations under international treaties. Do not revoke the nationality of Juliana Deguis Pierre or any other person whose citizenship has retroactively been called into question. And finally, revise the 2004 Migration Law so it is not in violation of international law.
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Photo credit: K-Bien via Wikimedia Commons