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MRG statement to UN Human Rights Council on situation of Dominican children of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic

11 March 2016

Human Rights Council – 31st session

Item 3 – General Debate

11 March 2016

Speaker: Mr. Glenn PAYOT

Thank you Mister President,

Minority Rights Group would like to welcome the report of the Secretary-General on stateless children, and to draw the attention of the Council to the situation of Dominican children of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic.

Since a 2013 Constitutional Court ruling, tens of thousands of people of Haitian descent have been deprived of their nationality, including children born in the country. The Dominican authorities subsequently established a naturalization process, supposed to address the issue of statelessness. However, the Committee on the Rights of the Child concluded last year that “[this] naturalization process does not fully comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child”.

Minority Rights Group, together with MUDHA, its local partner in the Dominican Republic, has documented the situation of Dominican children of Haitian descent.

The lack of documentation creates practical obstacles to registration of children in schools, registration at national examinations, as well as access to health services and other public services. Our partners also report psychological effects, particularly severe for children, linked to the lack of personal development, social exclusion and marginalisation that these children, and their families, have to live in.

The effects of the arbitrary deprivation of nationality on Dominican children of Haitian descent are not to be seen in isolation from the broader context. These negative effects come on top of a historic background of exclusion and marginalization faced by the Dominican population of Haitian descent, materialized by high levels of poverty and pervasive discrimination.

These children, because of their legal situation and of the social stigma they face, are at risk of being victims of exploitation, traffic and violence.

In line with the recommendations of this report and the recommendations from the CRC, MRG urges the Dominican Republic to ensure the restoration of the nationality of all individuals, including children, affected by the 2013 Court ruling, as well as children born in the country before 2007 who were not registered at birth.

I thank you.