Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Race-Based Statelessness in the Americas
Georgetown Journal of Law and Modern Critical Race Perspectives, Forthcoming
43 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2014 Last revised: 27 Oct 2014
Date Written: June 14, 2014
This Article examines the crisis of “race-based statelessness” in the Dominican Republic, which denies citizenship to hundreds of thousands of people, based on racial and ethnic prejudice. In September 2013, the Dominican Constitutional Court upheld a constitutional amendment to revoke the citizenship rights of persons born in Dominican territory to undocumented immigrants, who are primarily black and of Haitian origin. This Article describes the illegality of the Dominican constitutional amendment under international, and particularly, inter-American law. The denial of “jus soli” citizenship, citizenship based on a person’s birth territory, is a violation of American regional customary international law. Furthermore, systematic racial discrimination and denial of nationality violates international and inter-American treaty and customary law.
The final section of this Article argues for a strong international and inter-American response to the crisis of statelessness in the Dominican Republic. States should be open to granting asylum to persons fleeing racial persecution in the Dominican Republic. The Organization of American States and the Caribbean Community should continue to put political pressure on the Dominican Republic to restore citizenship rights to its population, and economic pressure should be applied to the Dominican Republic through the United States-Dominican Republic Central America Free Trade Agreement.
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