Debunking Myths and FAQs in the Human Rights Crisis in the DR


MYTH: Just being born in the DR or having a Dominican birth certificate doesn’t make you Dominican.

The Dominican Constitutions in force until 2010 granted birthright citizenship (jus soli). Although many Dominicans of Haitian descent were born in rural areas and faced decades of discrimination when trying to obtain identity documents, they are still Dominicans by birthright.

MYTH: No one is stateless in the DR, they are all Haitian citizens.  According to Article 11 of the 1987 Haitian Constitution, individuals automatically acquire Haitian nationality at the time of birth if they are born to a Haitian father or a Haitian mother who are themselves born Haitian.

Dominican people of Haitian descent who automatically acquired another nationality at birth are not considered to be Haitian nationals per Haitian law, even if they were born to a Haitian parent. Once the DR stripped them of their citizenship, they automatically became stateless people.

MYTH: No one is stateless, the DR restored the nationality of the 55,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent impacted by ruling 168-13.

The 55,000 number only accounts Dominicans in Group A of the Naturalization Law who were already in the birth registry. The majority of the 200,000+ Dominicans of Haitian descent were not able to meet the onerous criteria laid out on the Naturalization Law and remain stateless.

MYTH: They are all “illegal” immigrants overrunning the DR and straining its resources. We can’t support them all!

The Dominican government often tries to conflate the issue of recent  migrants from Haiti with the four generations of Dominicans they rendered stateless solely based on their ethnicity. One cannot be illegal in the country you’re born in or the place you’ve established a home and family since 1929.

MYTH: Haiti is the one violating human rights by not giving their nationals documents, not the DR. Why aren’t you talking about them?

Haiti is not the one who stripped hundreds of thousands of people of their citizenship. Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides both that “Everyone has the right to a nationality” and that “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.”  The Dominican Republic violated its obligations under Article 15 when it stripped people of their citizenship.

MYTH: (Insert Haitian official) said that this is all Haiti’s fault/there is no crisis/those people are all Haitians...

Haiti’s Foreign Minister Lener Renauld clearly stated before the OAS that it is OK for returning Haitians to their own land, but this should be done according to a protocol to avoid massive deportations. Haiti will not and should not, however,  accept Dominican citizens in the territory.

MYTH: No one is being deported and no one entitled to Dominican nationality will be deprived of it. People are “self-deporting”.

On August 14th, the Dominican government officially announce deportations would begin. Even before then, According to a survey done by the International Organization of Migration, 46% of the people they interviewed said they were forcibly removed from their homes by different entities, including the military, police, immigration officials and civilians. Some of these people are Dominicans with every right to Dominican nationality.

MYTH: The Dominican Republic is a sovereign country that has the right to shape its own internal immigration policy.

Over 200,000 people rendered stateless and 60,000 people fleeing their homes is the definition of a human rights crisis in the Dominican Republic. Human rights no know borders, and when the DR does not abide by its international obligations to protect all of its people, the international community has a moral obligation to speak up

MYTH: Haitians are deported from the U.S., Bahamas, and Canada every day. Why aren’t you talking about that?

Those countries have due process and a protocol in place to respect the rights of those individuals and provide Haiti with advance notice of who is coming to their country. The DR has continued to refuse Haiti’s attempts to negotiate a protocol for deportations and establish 2 strict points of entry/exit into the country rather than dumping people all along the border at odd hours.

MYTH: What does the Obama Administration have to do with something going on in the DR?

The U.S. remains DR’s # 1 trade partner despite these human rights abuses. By continuing to offer its military aid to the Dominican security forces, the United States is undermining internal efforts by a variety of organizations and individuals in Dominican civil society to protect vulnerable people, defend human rights, and bring the country into compliance with international law.