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Jean and Bosico Children v. The Dominican Republic

7 September 2005


Dominican Republic

Thematic focus

  • Children‘s Rights
  • Discrimination on the Grounds of National Origin
  • Education Rights
  • Equality and Nondiscrimination
  • Migrant Rights
  • Obligation to Adopt Special Protective Measures

Forum and Date of Decision

Inter-American Court of Human Rights, 8 September 2005.

Nature of the case

A petition alleging violation of rights to nationality and education of girls of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic. Right to nationality as a way to have civil and political rights acknowledged. Obligation to respect the right to non-discrimination in granting nationality. Precautionary measures to prevent deportation and to guarantee the right to education of a girl in school age.


The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) received a petition in favor of Dilcia Yean and Violeta Bosica against the Dominican Republic for denying them the Dominican nationality although they were born there. The petitioners claimed that, since their nationality was not acknowledged, the girls were exposed to the imminent threat of being expelled from the country and, lacking an identity document, could not attend school. The IACHR adopted precautionary measures to prevent the girls’ deportation and to guarantee that Bosica could continue going to school, and referred the case to the Inter-American Court. The Court found that, by refusing to issue birth certificates and preventing the applicants from enjoying their citizenship rights due to their ancestors’ origin, the Dominican State had violated their rights to protection measures, to equality and non discrimination, to nationality, to having a legal status and a name. The Court concluded that the right to nationality opened the way to enjoying the other rights, and that denying children their birth certificate amounted to denying them their right to be part of a political community. Therefore, the Court ordered the State to adopt measures to revert the historical discrimination caused by its birth record system and education system, and, in particular, to adopt a simple, accessible and reasonable procedure for Dominican children of Haitian descent to obtain a birth certificate. Finally, the Court requested the State to guarantee access to free elementary education for all children regardless of their background or origin. The Court considered this obligation was a consequence of the special protection children are entitled to.

Enforcement of the decision and other outcomes

The Court decided to supervise the enforcement of its decision. Within one year after the decision was notified, the State had to submit to the Court a report on the measures adopted.

Significance of the case

This case represents a valuable precedent in the field of social rights. On the one side, the fundamental value of nationality rights as a tool to achieve recognition of other rights was acknowledged. On the other, it is one of the first cases in which violations of the right to education were heard and the Court ordered to have their enjoyment guaranteed regardless of the child’s background. This case is also a call for the Dominican State to provide a definitive solution to the widespread vulnerability of the rights of thousands of children of Haitian descent living in its territory.