Dominican Ruling Creates Stateless Underclass

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Haitian migrant worker in the Dominican Republic. Credit: Solidarity Center.

This week the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is meeting in Washington, D.C. One of the cases the commission will hear regards the Dominican Republic’s September 2014 Constitutional Court ruling that retroactively strips individuals who are unable to prove their parents’ regular migration status of their citizenship.

A new AFL-CIO and Solidarity Center report describes what this could mean for the people who will be disproportionately affected—individuals of Haitian descent living and working in the Dominican Republic, including those born in the country.

Those targeted by the court’s ruling will be excluded from any activity that requires official identification, including working in the formal sector, attending school, opening a bank account, paying into retirement or social security funds, accessing health services, getting married, traveling or voting. For many women, men and children born in the Dominican Republic, the ruling means being barred from participating in the only society they have ever known.

In the report, Dominicans of Haitian descent describe their struggle to maintain their status, pursue higher education, seek opportunities for meaningful work and career advancement, obtain justice against abusive employers and ensure their children are recognized as citizens and have access to critical services.

This deliberate creation of a stateless underclass is an egregious abuse of fundamental human rights and a clear violation of international law.

The AFL-CIO and Solidarity Center are committed to working with their union partners in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and overseas to ensure that all workers and their families in the Dominican Republic have full protection of their human and labor rights. The organizations call on the Dominican Republic to comply with its international obligations and ensure that Dominicans of foreign descent can fully and freely participate in society.