Dominican Ruling Strips Many of Citizenship

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic September 26, 2013 (AP)
By EZEQUIEL ABIU LOPEZ and DANICA COTO Associated Press

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/dominican-ruling-strips-citizenship-20387587?singlePage=true

The Dominican Republic’s top court on Thursday stripped citizenship from
thousands of people born to migrants who came illegally, a category that
overwhelmingly includes Haitians brought in to work on farms.

The decision cannot be appealed, and it affects all those born since 1929.
The Constitutional Court’s ruling says officials are studying birth
certificates of more than 16,000 people and notes that electoral
authorities have refused to issue identity documents to 40,000 people of
Haitian descent.

“This is outrageous,” said Ana Maria Belique, spokeswoman for a nonprofit
group that has fought for the rights of migrants’ children. “It’s an
injustice based on prejudice and xenophobia.”

Edwin Paraison, a former Haitian Cabinet minister who has been working to
improve relations between the two nations, criticized the court and warned
that the ruling could hurt Dominicans. “The sentence expresses a rejection
of the Haitian diaspora while setting a dangerous precedent that can be
reproduced, if appropriate action isn’t taken, against other immigrant
communities, including Dominicans, in several countries worldwide,” he said
in an email.

Dominican lawyer Cristobal Rodriguez, who opposes the ruling, said the
court disregarded the principle of law retroactivity by applying the
criteria of a new constitution approved in 2010 to people born decades
earlier.

“This ruling cuts against the rights of thousands of people born in the
Dominican Republic, and could immediately undermine their access to
education and health services,” Reed Brody, counsel and spokesman for Human
Rights Watch, said in a statement. “It’s also likely to discourage an
entire community from seeking help when they suffer abuses, for fear of
authorities learning their status.”

Jorge Duany, an anthropology professor at Florida International University
who has studied the migration of Dominicans in the Caribbean, said the
decision comes after countless years of friction between the two countries.

“The impact could be truly catastrophic,” he said. “They are stigmatizing
an entire Haitian population.”


Associated Press writer Ezequiel Abiu Lopez reported this story in Santo
Domingo and Danica Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. AP writers
Trenton Daniel and Evens Sanon in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, contributed to
this report.

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