Kennedy Center Challenges Dominican Republic De-Nationalization
Systematic Denationalization Campaign Challenged Before IACHR
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) and partners filed a complaint before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) challenging the Dominican Republic's systematic denationalization policies on behalf of Juliana Deguis Pierre, Yanelis Segó Basil, Jenny Salita Emanier Previlma, and their children.
The filing amplifies an original petition submitted in March 2013 on behalf of 62 individuals and details multiple subsequent human rights violations exemplified by the cases of Ms. Deguis, Ms. Segó, and Ms. Emanier since the Constitutional Court's judgment 168-13 arbitrarily deprived thousands of Dominicans of their nationality. Dominican advocacy groups Movimiento Socio-Cultural de los Trabajadores Haitianos (MOSCTHA), Derechos Vigentes, and Red de Encuentro Dominico Haitiano Jacques Viau (REDH) joined the RFK Center in filing the complaint.
"The Dominican Constitutional Court has shamefully joined in a systematic campaign of discrimination against Dominicans of Haitian descent and, ignoring its obligation to protect fundamental rights, has stripped hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of their nationality," said Kerry Kennedy, President of the RFK Center. "The Inter-American community cannot stand witness to human rights violations on this massive scale without action. The IACHR should immediately take up these cases to send a clear and unequivocal message that the government of Dominican Republic must end its xenophobic denationalization campaign once and for all."
The Constitutional Court judgment 168-13 against Ms. Deguis retroactively alters the criteria for citizenship for those born to foreign parents between 1929 and 2010 in violation of international law, including the American Convention on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights judgment in the case of Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic. As a result, Ms. Deguis and hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of foreign descent have been arbitrarily deprived of their nationality and left stateless. Since December, less than three months after its controversial judgment 168-13, the Constitutional Court has continued to disregard binding international law and issued new sentences, upholding the shameful initial decision in seven additional cases.
"Protecting the right to nationality is critical to ensuring the enjoyment of many other basic human rights," said Kerry Kennedy. "Without access to nationality or citizenship documents, Dominicans of Haitian descent have little to no access to work, education, health services, and a wide range of other civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights."
In addition to violations of the rights to nationality and juridical personality, the filing outlines how the Dominican government has violated the prohibition of racial discrimination, the right to judicial protection, the right to freedom of movement, the right to participate in public affairs, and the right to family, as well as several economic, social, and cultural rights such as the right to work, the ight to education, and the right to health. The RFK Center and partners to the petition have requested that the Inter-American Commission process and expedite this case to protect the rights of the children involved, to promote changes in state practices to avoid the reception of multiple similar petitions, and to address the serious structural discrimination in the country.
Last year, the Inter-American Commission granted Precautionary Measures requested by the RFK Center and partners for 80 Dominicans of Haitian descent, including Ms. Deguis, Ms. Segó, and Ms. Emanier, to prevent their immediate expulsion and to secure identification documents for accessing basic social services. The government has failed to fully comply with these Precautionary Measures.
The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights (RFK Center) was founded in 1968 by Robert Kennedy's family and friends as a living memorial to carry forward his vision of a more just and peaceful world. RFK Partners for Human Rights engages in strategic long-term partnerships with RFK Human Rights Award Laureates, augmenting the effectiveness of grassroots leaders to support sustainable social justice movements.