Tue | May 23, 2017

Dom Rep president defends nationality dispute

Published:Sunday | November 16, 2014 | 11:32 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, CMC – The Organization of American States (OAS) says former president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández, has defended his country's position in the dispute with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the right to nationality of the children of undocumented Haitian migrants.



In delivering a lecture at OAS headquarters entitiled: “The OAS, Democracy and Human Rights,” Fernández said, in the Dominican Republic, there is no “jus soli” law - a legal concept that grants citizenship to those born in a country.



“Dominican nationality is not acquired simply by having been born in our territory,” he said, disagreeing with the court for ordering the Dominican State to take steps to rescind all legislation that conditions the recognition of nationality via the “jus soli”.



“No automatic grant of citizenship by way of jus soli is not a violation of human rights, as the Court misinterpreted,” Fernández declared.



He added that of the 194 member-states of the United Nations, “only 30 support the jus soli system without any conditions, which means that 164 states, among them the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Costa Rica, have chosen not to automatically recognize the citizenship of people born in their respective territories”.



Last week, the United Nations human rights office voiced concern about a recent Dominican Constitutional Court’s ruling that the country’s recognition of the competence of the Inter American Court of Human Rights on the Haitian issue is unconstitutional.



“This ruling may jeopardize the capacity of Dominican people to protect their rights, and deny them a system of protection designed to complement the Dominican legal framework and institutions,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in a press briefing in Geneva.



Two weeks ago, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the Dominican Republic to revoke a judgment issued in September 2013 saying that the children of undocumented Haitian migrants who have been in the country and registered as Dominicans as far back as 1929 cannot have Dominican nationality, as their parents are considered to be “in transit.”



Last week, the Constitutional Court said when the Dominican Republic joined the jurisdiction of the regional court in 1999, it had done so without respecting its own constitution.



Colville stressed that regional human rights bodies, such as the Court and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, play “a very important role” in the promotion and protection of human rights in the region.



In October 2013, OHCHR urged the Dominican Republic to take measures to ensure that citizens of Haitian origin, including children born in the Dominican Republic, were not deprived of their right to nationality in light of the ruling.



Until 2010, OCHCR said the country had followed the principle of automatically bestowing citizenship to anyone born on its soil.



But in 2010, a new constitution stated that citizenship would be granted only to those born on Dominican soil to at least one parent of Dominican blood or whose foreign parents are legal residents.



The international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, also warned that the “appalling” ruling by the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court that could lead to the country’s withdrawal from the Inter American Court of Human Rights would, if supported by the government, deprive hundreds of thousands of Haitians and other survivors of human rights abuses from any hope of justice.



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