Academic journal article Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

Soy Dominicano - the Status of Haitian Descendants Born in the Dominican Republic and Measures to Protect Their Right to a Nationality

Academic journal article Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

Soy Dominicano - the Status of Haitian Descendants Born in the Dominican Republic and Measures to Protect Their Right to a Nationality

Article excerpt

"I have no country. What will become of me?" (1)


On September 25, 2013, the Constitutional Tribunal of the Dominican Republic retroactively interpreted the Dominican Constitution to deny Dominican citizenship to children born to irregular migrants in Dominican territory since 1929. The tribunal's decision disproportionately affects approximately two hundred thousand persons of Haitian descent. In general, states have the right to determine their nationality criteria. However, the Dominican Republic violated international law by arbitrarily and discriminatorily depriving the Haitian descendants of their Dominican nationality and by increasing the incidence of statelessness. The international community should intervene urgently and decisively on behalf of the Haitian descendants. This Note proposes specific ways in which stakeholders, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), Organization of American States (OAS), and the United States, should intervene to persuade the Dominican government to pass proper remedial nationality legislation. Moreover, after concluding that the recent legislative developments in the Dominican Republic are insufficient to bring the state into compliance with its international law obligations, this Note proposes more robust legislative reform and recommends continued international pressure.

Table of Contents

   I. Introduction
  II. Rock and a Hard Place: The Nationality Law
      of the Dominican Republic and Haiti
      A. Nationality Law of the Dominican Republic
         before and after Pierre
      B. Haiti's Jus Sanguinis Nationality
 III. Haiti and the Dominican Republic: Economic
      Conditions and Relations
  IV. International Law on Nationality
      A. Nationality Under International Law:
         Jus Sanguinis, Jus Soli, and
         Hybrid Criteria
      B. The Individual's Right to a Nationality and
         the State's Obligation to Prevent
   V. Analyzing the Haitian Descendants' Claim To
      Dominican Nationality
      A. Haitians Born in Dominican Territory Prior
         to the 2010 Constitutional Amendment Were
         Dominican Nationals
      B. The Pierre Decision Constituted Arbitrary
         and Discriminatory Deprivation of
  VI. The Role of Regional and International
      Organizations and the International
      A. Despite Recent Legislation, the State
         Continues to Violate International Law
      B. The OAS Challenge
      C. Diplomatic and Economic Pressure from
      D. The Need for Urgent and Decisive UNHCR
      E. United States' Diplomatic and Economic
      F. The Role of the United Nations in Facilitating
         International Consensus on the Nationality
 VII. Conclusion
VIII. Appendix

I. Introduction

On September 25, 2013, in a far-reaching, provocative ruling, the Constitutional Tribunal of the Dominican Republic relegated hundreds of thousands of Haitian descendants born in the Dominican Republic to a state of uncertainty, or worse, statelessness. (2) The case arose from Juliana Dequis Pierre's request for a Dominican (3) national identification card. (4) In 1984, two Haitian cane farmers welcomed the birth of Juliana Dequis Pierre in the Yamasa municipality of the Dominican Republic. (5) Under the 1966 Dominican Constitution then in effect, persons born in Dominican territory were entitled to Dominican nationality unless their parents were diplomats or foreigners in transit. (6) Believing she was thus entitled, Ms. Pierre applied to the Dominican authorities for a Dominican national identity card. When the authorities denied her application, she appealed to the Constitutional Tribunal. (7) To her surprise, the Constitutional Tribunal reinterpreted the 1966 Dominican Constitution to hold that illegal residents are "foreigners in transit," that Ms. …

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