The Dominican Republic and Haiti remain in talks regarding a Dominican Republic court ruling last September that retroactively revokes the citizenship of all Dominicans born in the country to undocumented parents as far back as 1929. The ruling affects tens of thousands of Dominicans, the large majority of whom are of Haitian descent.
Protests against the ruling continue to take place worldwide, with active opposition by the international community and human rights defenders. As part of a broad coalition of labor and human rights groups, the National Council of United Trade Unions (CNUS), sent letters to Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina denouncing the ruling. CNUS, a Solidarity Center ally based in the Dominican Republic, also provided testimony to an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) delegation which traveled to the country to assess the situation.
The Asociación de Trabajadores del Hogar (Domestic Workers Association, ATH) held a forum to raise awareness among members and express solidarity with those affected by the ruling. In a joint statement from the International Trade Union Confederation’s (ITUC) regional body for the Americas, TUCA, Haitian and Dominican unions signed on to condemn the ruling’s violation of human rights and urged the Dominican government to take steps to prevent a humanitarian crisis.
The Dominican Republic has long relied on Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitian migrant workers to provide cheap labor in the agricultural, construction and domestic work sectors of the informal economy, which is characterized by low wages, no benefits, unsafe working conditions and weak legal protections.
Given the precarious nature of the work, coupled with a heightened fear of deportation, Dominican workers of Haitian descent are more vulnerable to rights abuses and are at greater risk of human trafficking, debt bondage and being compelled to take dangerous jobs.
Dominican-American author Junot Diaz described the ruling as making it challenging for those of foreign descent to “study; to work in the formal sector of the economy; to get insurance; to pay into their pension fund; to get married legally; to open bank accounts; and even to leave the country that now rejects them if they cannot obtain or renew their passport. It is an instantly created underclass set up for abuse.”
The Solidarity Center shares the demands of its Dominican and Haitian union partners, the ITUC, TUCA and the AFL-CIO in calling on the Dominican government to comply with all international human rights obligations and immediately recognize the birthright citizenship of all Dominicans of foreign descent deprived of their nationality by the ruling.
For more information, download a Solidarity Center factsheet.