Howard University School of Law’s fact-finding mission to the Dominican Republic results in the National Bar Association’s call to reinstate the citizenship of Black Dominicans of Haitian Descent

 

Pictured, left to right, are Howard law professor John Woods, Jr. with law students Teliyah Carr, Kayla Moore, Yannick Gill, an official from the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, and law students Tiffany Mane, Charles Jones, and Alexis Marion.


From June 5, 2017 to August 1, 2017, Howard University School of Law Professor John L. Woods, Jr. and a team of Howard law students led a human rights fact-finding mission to the Dominican Republic.

The mission was an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) experiential education project where the students applied their intensive training in international law, human rights law, ADR, and human rights fact-finding skills development to the issue of statelessness in the Dominican Republic.

The students involved in the law school’s mission were third-year students Charles Jones, Tiffany Mane, and Kayla Moore, and second-year students Teliyah Carr, Yannick Gill and Alexis Marion.

“From Jim Crow to Apartheid, Howard University School of Law students have consistently served as the engines of social justice both domestically and abroad,” said Professor Woods, a 2008 alumnus of the law school. “Our students effectively contributed to this rich legacy through their work on this significant project. The Stateless issue concerning individuals of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic has been a major conundrum for the international community since 2013,” he said.

While in the Dominican Republic, the students received a briefing and general overview of the political, economic, and social matters concerning the Dominican Republic from the U.S. Embassy. The students also completed field assignments with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Heartland Alliance International, OBMICA, and Reconoci.do. The team also visited Haiti and met with Haitian government officials.

“Being able to observe firsthand the impact of laws, the disparities between the ethnic groups within the country, and the stark contrast between the standards of living in the capitals of the Dominican Republic and Haiti deepened my understanding of the issues on a micro and a macro level,” said 3L Kayla Moore. “I appreciated the chance to work, learn, and contribute to the project based on what I learned,” she said.

The law school mission prompted an exploratory visit to the Dominican Republic from a delegation of National Bar Association (NBA) officials including then President Kevin Judd (HUSL ’92)  and President-Elect Juan Thomas. In response to their visit and the investigatory efforts of HUSL’s fact-finding team, the NBA passed Resolution No. 2017-6, which said in part,

“Black Dominicans of Haitian Descent have been and continue to be subjected to arbitrary deprivation to nationality, the denial of access to documentations, the denial of access to education, the denial of access to healthcare, a compromised freedom of travel in and outside of the DR, fractured families as a result of expulsion of family members from the DR, restricted and severely limited access to employment, denial to equal protection of the law, denial of voting rights, landlessness, as well as a chilling effect experienced by Black Dominican Women of Haitian Descent in that violence against women goes unreported because of fear of deportation.”

Further, Resolution No. 2017-6 acknowledged the work of Howard University School of Law and called for

“the Government of the Dominican Republic to Eradicate Statelessness by Reinstating the Citizenship of Black Dominicans of Haitian Descent.”

“The dedication and work of our students has contributed immensely to clarifying this complex issue,” said Professor Woods. “Their investigative findings have unearthed pertinent facts that have provided a foundation and framework to assist all interested parties in reaching an equitable resolution. Such efforts are reflected in the recent steps taken by the National Bar Association,” he said.
 


Click here to read the Resolution by the National Bar Association in PDF format.


Resolution No. 2017-6

NATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION
Resolution Urging the Government of the Dominican Republic to
Eradicate Statelessness by Reinstating the
Citizenship of Black Dominicans of Haitian Descent

WHEREAS the National Bar Association is the nation's oldest and largest national network of predominantly African American attorneys and judges, representing approximately 60,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students and having over 80 affiliate chapters
throughout the United States and around the world;

WHEREAS the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) defines Statelessness as the lack of citizenship. Specifically, Article 1 (1) of the United Nation's Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons provides that a stateless person 1s someone who is "not
considered as a national by any stale under the operation of its law";

WHEREAS the Government of the Dominican Republic (hereinafter "Dominican Republicn) is the home of the largest stateless population, almost all of which are Black Dominicans of Haitian Descent, in the Americas;

WHEREAS the Dominican Republic's Constitutional Tribunal Judgment 168/13 (hereinafter) Judgment 168/13tt) and Naturalization Law 169-14 (hereinafter "Law 169-14•) are the root causes of statelessness in the Dominican Republic;

WHEREAS on September 23, 2013, Judgment 168/13 in effect revised the country's citizenship transmission laws retroactively to 1929 and stripped hundreds of thousands of Black Dominicans of Haitian Descent of their citizenship, mostly children who were born in the Dominican Republic to irregular (undocumented) Haitian migrant workers, which was conferred by virtue of }us soli;

WHEREAS Jus soli, when adopted by sovereign states, is a universally held principle where the country of the citizenship of a child is determined by its country of birth;

WHEREAS the Dominican Republic adopted jus so/i through its citizenship transmission laws until Judgment 168/13 effectively stripped and/or continues to deprive generations of Black Dominicans of Haitian Descent of their citizenship;

WHEREAS on May 21, 2014, the Dominican Republic enacted Law 169-14 in response to the international community's outcry to Judgment 168/13 to provide a pathway to citizenship for those that were stripped of their citizenship;

WHEREAS Law 169-14 (a) provides for the validation of birth certifica tes and re- acquisition of citizenship for individuals born in the Dominican Republic bet\veen 1929 and 2007 whose births had been registered in the Dominican civil registry (Group A); and (b) introduced a special registration procedure under which individuals born in the Dominican Republic whose births were never registered in the Dominican civil registry {Group B) could apply for registration as foreigners and regularization of their status, and, after two years, for nationality through the regular naturalization procedure. However, conformance with this law by many, primarily individuals in Group B, has proven to be impracticable;

WHEREAS factors frustrating Black Dominicans of Haitian Descent's conformance with Law 169-14 (both Group A and B) include a well settled history of systemic discriminalion practiced by the Dominican Republic where (1} Black Dominicans of Haitian Descent are deprived of pel'Sonal identification documentation necessary to verify their citizenship (e.g ., acla de nacimiento. constancia de nacido vivo, and the cedula de identidad); or (2) the re-acquisition of citizenship has been denied for some Group A and B individuals in possession of the aforementioned personal identification documents in violation of Law 169-14. These documents. both birth certificates and government Identification cards, are also prerequisites to exercise a number of fundamental rights, including but not limited to, the right to education and healthcare;

WHEREAS consequently, the vast majority of Group B individuals have not been able to register with the Dominican civil registry and are now facing the possibility of forever being barred from re-acquiring citizenship because the special registration period, or naturalization process, expires in the Summer of 2017. No alternative avenues to re-acquire citizenship for Group B individuals currently exist;

WHEREAS collectively, Judgment 168/13 and Law 169-14 have also further negatively impacted the human rights of Black Dominicans of Haitian Descent in the Dominican Republic;

WHEREAS Black Dominicans of Haitian Descent have been and continue to be subjected to arbitrary deprivation to nationality, the denial or access to documentations, the denial of access to education, the denial of access to healthcare, compromised freedom of travel in and outside of the Dominican Republic, fracl.ured families as a result of expulsion of family members from the Dominican Republic, restricted and severely limited access to employment, denial to equal protection of the law, denial of voting rights, landlessness, as well as a chilling effect experienced by Black Dominican Women of Haitian Descent in that violence against women goes unreported because of fear of deportation;

WHEREAS such human rights violations have been assessed and corroborated by the Human Rights-Rule of Law Fact Finding Initiative: Mission to the Dominican Republic, a Howard University School of Law dispute resolution project;

WHEREAS the Dominican Republic's persistent and pervasive practice of systemic racial discrimination has been corroborated, detailed, and admonished by the United Nations' ~Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism. discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance: Mission to the Dominican Republic· ·; and

WHEREAS the Inter-American Court for Human Rights (IACHR) condemned the Dominican Republic and determined that Judgment 168/13 and Law 169-14 violated fundamental human rights. The IACHR found, in part, that Judgment 168/13 implied an arbitrary deprivation of citizenship and that the ruling had a discriminatory effect, stripped citizenship retroactively, and led to statelessness for individuals not considered citizens.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NBA calls for the Dominican Republic to (a) reinstate the full citizenship of all Black Dominicans of Haitian Descent, in accordance with the country's citizenship transmission laws prior to 2005, who have conferred citizenship by virtue of jus sofi since 1929; (b) lift or extend the current deadline for the re-acquisition of citizenship, particularly the special registration deadline for Group B individuals: and (c) ensure that Group B individuals are eligible and included in all subsequent citizenship transmission laws and/or processes;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that any subsequent citizenship transmission laws and/or processes account for and provide safeguards against the systemic discrimination which has historically deprived Black Dominicans of Haitian Descent of personal identification documentation necessary to verify their citizenship; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that all international relationships and/or partnerships with the Dominican Republic be conditioned on the Dominican Republic's recognition and eradication of statelessness as well as the elimination of systemic discrimination. Including. but not limited to, such economic and political partnerships with the United Stales, Canada, the European Union (EU), and the Caribbean Union (CARICOM).

 

(Photos by Charles Edward B. Jones)