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The NAACP Urges the Dominican Republic to Reinstate Full Citizenship Rights and Recognition to Dominicans of Haitian Descent

WHEREAS, up until January 2010, with limited exceptions, the Constitution of the Dominican Republic provided Dominican citizenship on the basis of an individual's birth within the country's territory; and

WHEREAS, in September 2013, the Constitutional Tribunal of the Dominican Republic issued a ruling that held, retroactive to 1929, that children of undocumented migrants, despite their Dominican birth and registration, are not citizens of the Dominican Republic, and as such, stripped over 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent of their identity and affiliation with the Dominican Republic, effectively creating the largest stateless population in the Western Hemisphere; and

WHEREAS, in May 2014, after an international outcry, the Dominican government passed Naturalization Law 169-14 as a legislative "fix" to the devastating outcomes of the Constitutional Tribunal's ruling, which was unprecedentedly designed to require persons affected by the 2013 Constitutional Tribunal's decision to be re-recognized as citizens or apply to gain state recognition based on their birth status and year. Naturalization Law 169-14 established unrealistic timetables for the law's application, imposed onerous registration requirements and had a disproportionate and discriminatory impact on Dominicans of Haitian descent. Only a negligible number of individuals eligible for registration under this law were registered by the February 2015 deadline; and

WHEREAS, in October 2014, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights held that the denationalization of Dominican citizens of Haitian descent is discriminatory and that parts of Naturalization Law 169-14 violated the Dominican Republic's binding obligations as a signatory to the American Convention on Human Rights, including the right to nationality and the right to identity; and

WHEREAS, both the ruling of the Constitutional Tribunal and Naturalization Law 169-14 have further separated Dominicans of Haitian descent from the larger Dominican community, allowing them to be more easily targeted by those perpetrating acts of discrimination and violence, including lynching; and

WHEREAS, in the absence of any due process protections, the recent expulsions of Dominicans of Haitian descent, with no family or social networks in Haiti from which they can draw support, further underscores the precarious conditions to which Dominicans of Haitian descent are subjected and has led to the creation of squalid refugee camps at the Haitian border; and

WHEREAS, The International Organization for Migration has documented that an alarming number of individuals, including hundreds of unaccompanied minors, were forcibly removed from or left the Dominican Republic under the threat of violence, and that a huge number of individuals are actually Dominicans with government-issued identification establishing their legal right to be in the Dominican Republic; and

WHEREAS, Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which the Dominican Republic is a signatory, guarantees all people the right to nationality and states that, "No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality;" and

WHEREAS, internationally, civil rights, human rights, academic, legal, political, and dozens of other groups have called for immediate action by the Dominican government to reverse the effects of the Constitutional Tribunal ruling and Naturalization Law 169-14.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the NAACP strongly urges the government of the Dominican Republic to return the rights of citizenship to all persons born on Dominican soil, regardless of parental immigration status, to cease any and all expulsion efforts, and to actively pursue ending all acts of violence and discriminatory practices perpetrated against those of Haitian descent; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP calls on the United States government to provide emergency refugee status to all Dominican-born children of Haitian descent and their families until repatriation to the Dominican Republic occurs with all of the rights, protections, and privileges of citizenship fully restored; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, upon adoption by the NAACP, that copies of this resolution be forwarded to the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, and the Dominican Republic's Presidential Ambassador to the United States.