Soy Dominicano – The Status of Haitian Descendants Born in the Dominican Republic and Measures to Protect Their Right to a Nationality
In September 25, 2013, the Constitutional Tribunal of the Dominican Republic retroactively interpreted the Dominican Constitution to deny Dominican citizenship to children born to irregular migrants in Dominican territory since 1929. The tribunal’s decision disproportionately affects approximately two hundred thousand persons of Haitian descent. In general, states have the right to determine their nationality criteria. However, the Dominican Republic violated international law by arbitrarily and discriminatorily depriving the Haitian descendants of their Dominican nationality and by increasing the incidence of statelessness. The international community should intervene urgently and decisively on behalf of the Haitian descendants. This Note proposes specific ways in which stakeholders, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), Organization of American States (OAS), and the United States, should intervene to persuade the Dominican government to pass proper remedial nationality legislation. Moreover, after concluding that the recent legislative developments in the Dominican Republic are insufficient to bring the state into compliance with its international law obligations, this Note proposes more robust legislative reform and recommends continued international pressure.