Author Topic: Dominican court ruling renders hundreds of thousands stateless  (Read 296 times)

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Dominican court ruling renders hundreds of thousands stateless
« on: October 12, 2013, 02:18:53 AM »
Via Reuters:

(Reuters) - For four generations Banesa Blemi's family, descendants of Haitian immigrants, put down roots as low-wage sugar cane cutters in their adopted homeland, and came to consider themselves Dominicans.

Then, last month the country's Constitutional Court issued a decision effectively denationalizing Blemi and her family, along with an estimated 250,000 fellow immigrants born after 1929.

"I have no country. What will become of me?" said Blemi, 27, standing with relatives outside the family's wooden shack near La Romana, the heart of the Dominican Republic's sugar cane industry and one of the Caribbean's top tourist resorts.

"We are Dominicans - we have never been to Haiti. We were born and raised here. We don't even speak Creole," she said, referring to Haiti's native tongue.

The September 23 court ruling retroactively denies Dominican nationality to anyone born after 1929 who does not have at least one parent of Dominican blood, under a constitutional clause declaring all others to be either in the country illegally or "in transit."

The judgment is final, but human rights groups plan to challenge it before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, where it could in theory still be overuled.

Dominican President Danilo Medina appeared to distance himself from the ruling this week after he met with human rights groups. "I don't know if legally an injustice has been committed, but there's a human problem we have to solve," he said.

An immigrant census released earlier this year estimated there were 245,000 Dominican-born, first-generation children of immigrants living in the country. But the number affected by the ruling is likely to be exponentially higher, activists said, because it applies to other generations as well, such as Blemi and her children.

The vast majority of immigrant children - 210,000 - were of Haitian descent. It's estimated there are another 460,000 non-native Haitian migrants living in the country.

Mu-Kien Adriana Sang Ben, a noted Dominican historian and author, said the court sought to normalize a complicated migratory system but had only created an even more "serious and grave situation," with unintended consequences.

"This affects the sons and daughter of immigrants of not just Haitians, but Jews, Europeans, Chinese - the entire country," she told Reuters.

Sang's father was a Chinese immigrant who arrived in 1936 and became a legal resident before starting his family.

National Human Rights Commission President Manuel Maria Mercedes said the court clearly targeted the descendants of Haitians with the ruling: "This is racism and xenophobia."

The ruling touches a centuries-old nerve in the Dominican Republic, stemming from the country's occupation by neighboring Haiti in the early 19th century.

After Haiti won its independence in 1804 from France in a bloody revolution led by former slaves, Haitian troops occupied the Dominican Republic, then ruled by Spain, for 22 years, from 1822 to 1844, when the country won its own independence. Dominican school textbooks recount atrocities committed by Haitian troops during the occupation.

More at link. Seems like amnesty got revoked.
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