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End Statelessness in the Dominican Republic!

Tens of thousands of people remain stateless in the Dominican Republic. They have no country. They have no rights. 

Imagine one day you wake up and discover that YOUR country took away your nationality. Your past erased, your rights snatched away.

When you become stateless you do not exist for any country; you become invisible.

This happened to tens of thousands of people in Dominican Republic in September 2013. The highest Court in the country decided that even though they were born and raised for generations in the country, they should not have been Dominicans because their parents, grandparents, or even great grandparents, who were undocumented, came from the neighbouring country of Haiti, with which the Dominican Republic shares the same island in the Caribbean.

A year later, in 2014, the government tried to reverse this decision through a new law, only moved by political pressure and by the human rights crisis that had been created. The law was not enough: many Dominicans of Haitian descent still remain stateless today.

For them and their families, this does not only mean that they do not exist for any country, it also means they have no rights.

Their lives are a succession of frustration, lost opportunities and the denial of their basic recognition as human beings. Without nationality, they have no documents. Without documents children have to leave school. They cannot go to university and turn their dreams of a better life into reality. Stateless people have difficulty accessing healthcare. They can’t travel and are forced into informal jobs. Women are particularly at risk of abuse and violence, and have little to no opportunity to claim justice in court. The lives of all those who remain stateless are in limbo.

Stateless people are people who legally do not exist.  

The Dominican authorities continue to deny that anyone is stateless in the Dominican Republic, yet Amnesty International and local human rights groups have documented dozens of individuals in a situation of statelessness and there are possibly dozens of thousands more.

Yes, they exist!

Tell the Dominican authorities to recognize that stateless people exist in the country and ask them to restore their Dominican nationality.

Dear President,

I continue to be extremely worried about the consequences for tens of thousands of people in the Dominican Republic of the ruling 168-13 of the Constitutional Court. By arbitrarily and retroactively depriving generations of individuals born and raised in the Dominican Republic of their Dominican nationality, many became stateless.

I welcome the steps taken by the Dominican authorities in May 2014 to address this human rights crisis through the Law 169-14. However, recent research done in-country by Amnesty International and other organizations found that many of the affected people were not able to enjoy the benefits of this law and remain stateless until a new solution can be designed and implemented.

The situation of statelessness is dramatic for the daily lives of these people. With no access to identity documents, their rights to education, health, and work are violated. Their freedom of movement is denied. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable and are at risk of violence and exploitation with little to no recourse to access justice. Stateless people are trapped in a cycle of poverty and exclusion.                                      

I am concerned that the Dominican authorities refuse to admit this reality: statelessness does exist and it must be addressed urgently.      

I call on you to recognize the reality and the scale of statelessness in the Dominican Republic and urge you to restore Dominican nationality to those deprived of it following ruling 168-13.