The International Observatory on Statelessness

Dominican Republic

The number of stateless persons of Haitian origin in the Dominican Republic is not known. Human Rights Watch has estimated that “a million or so” persons of Haitian origin live in the DR . According to the U.S. Department of State, approximately 650,000 Haitians live in bateyes, clusters of concrete barracks or wooden shacks, near sugar cane plantations without any documentation, sanitation, or health care. Because of their migrant status and darker skin complexion, many face discrimination and deportation.

Although Article 11 of the Constitution allows everyone born in the Dominican Republic to be a citizen, Haitian children are denied citizenship on the basis that they are falsely considered “in transit,” not having regularized their stay in the country. Children must be officially registered at the Haitian consulate in Santo Domingo, but most are probably not registered because their parents consider themselves to be Dominican. Parents also may not register children because of lack of knowledge, economic resources, or documentation proving their Haitian citizenship or, in the case of asylum seekers, fear of doing so. In a September 2005 decision, Case of the Girls Yean and Bosico v. the Dominican Republic, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found that in preventing two children from obtaining their birth certificates, the Dominican Republic violated their right to nationality, the rights of the child, and the right to equal protection before the law.

In 2007, the Dominican government began the so-called “pink book” program, a birth registration system in which children of foreigners are issued pink birth certificates. Civil rights activists believe this system will foster more discrimination. In December 2007, the Junta Central Electoral (JCE), the state agency that administers the country’s civil registry operations, authorized Resolution No. 12-2007. The resolution allows for the provisional suspension of “irregular” state civil registry documents, including birth certificates and national identity cards. Some Dominican legal experts contend that the resolution violates human rights. Moreover, the Dominican government is considering an amendment to the constitution which would restrict or remove citizenship rights by birth in the DR.