The United Nations is urging the Dominican Republic to restore nationality to individuals affected by a September 23 Constitutional Court ruling that stripped thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship, rendering them stateless. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said Thursday that international legal standards require that the government restore citizenship taken away from approximately 200,000 individuals affected by the ruling and grant them valid identity documents.
According to a press release published on Thursday, the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) has a mandate from the General Assembly to reduce statelessness and protect stateless persons, prompting the urgency of their request. The Constitutional Court ruling reinterpreted the requirements for Dominican nationality as it applied to children of “in transit” migrants. As a result, individuals born in the Dominican Republic to migrant parents after 1929 no longer met Dominican nationality criteria and could have their citizenship revoked retroactively. On November 30, the Dominican Republic announced a plan to put the ruling into motion, giving 18 months to those affected to request Dominican citizenship starting on June 2014, but not giving details as to the requirements for naturalization.
UNHCR’s emphasis of this ruling as a human rights issue comes after more than 100 Dominicans of Haitian descent were deported in November following a fatal attack against an elderly couple near the Haitian border. Migrant advocates said many were deported or left the country voluntarily in fear after a mob retaliated for the attack by killing a Haitian man.