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MRG Statement on the Report on Arbitrary Deprivation of Nationality – Human Rights Council – 25th session

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Minority Rights Group International (MRG) and Coalición Dominicana para el Derecho a la Nacionalidad (CDERNA)

Item 3 – General Debate

Report on arbitrary deprivation of nationality – 19th March 2014

Mr President,

Minority Rights Group (MRG) and its local partners from the Dominican Coalition for the Right to Nationality welcome the report of the UN Secretary General on arbitrary deprivation of nationality.

The importance of the right to be free from arbitrary and discriminatory deprivation of nationality is illustrated by the current situation in the Dominican Republic, a case of large scale and discriminatory deprivation of nationality, which leaves hundreds of thousands of people at risk of statelessness.

Historically, the Dominican Republic has denied the right to nationality to children of migrant Haitians born in the country, although the Constitutions, until 2010, stipulated that every child born in the Dominican territory was entitled to obtain the Dominican nationality. Last September, the state institutionalised the denial of this right by a judgement of the Constitutional Court. It applies retroactively a new interpretation of the criteria to obtain the Dominican nationality and authorises the review of the civil registry of those born after 1929. The judgement was made despite the fact that Article 110 of the Dominican Constitution prohibits retroactive laws.

Not only is the right to nationality a fundamental human right, it is also a right whose deprivation entails severe effects on the lives of those affected as they cannot enjoy other basic rights such as access to health and education, amongst others. As highlighted in the report, any deprivation of nationality should serve a legitimate purpose, be proportional and the least intrusive alternative, conditions which are clearly not met in this case.

The effect of this judgement impacts principally on Dominicans of Haitian descent. This judgement and its implementation by the Dominican Republic authorities therefore violate the right to be free from arbitrary and discriminatory deprivation of nationality[1].

This situation has attracted concerns and condemnations from international bodies, such as UNHCR[2] or the IACHR[3], as well as from the OHCHR, and numerous states raised this issue during the last session of the UPR.

MRG and CDERNA therefore call on the Dominican Republic to apply the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary General, and demonstrate its will to tackle this issue by accepting relevant recommendations made during the UPR session, in order not to leave anyone within the Dominican territory at risk of statelessness.

I thank you.


1 American Convention on Human Rights, article 20: 1. Every person has the right to nationality; 3. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality or of the right to change it.

2 UNHCR, “UNHCR concerned by potential impact of Dominican court decision on persons of Haitian descent”, press release, 1st October 2013.

3 IACHR, “Preliminary Observations from the IACHR’s visit to the Dominican Republic”, press release, 6th December 2013.

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