No matter what part of the world you’re from, an issue with human rights continues to plague all facets of life and around the globe, with religion being at the epicenter of all problems. But this seems a little different in that aspect. Most recently, a court ruling in the Dominican Republic has caused an uproar as tens of thousands of Haitian immigrants have had their Dominican citizenship taken away from them, despite them being born there several decades ago. Many have deemed the ruling as an act of racism and violation of their human rights, and as result, has led to protests from fellow New Yorkers who’ve taken action on the matter.
“What makes a Dominican?” asks a protester in Manhattan demonstrating against a ruling by the Constiutional Tribunal of the Dominican Republic that revoked the citizenship of people born there, whose parents were undocumented foreigners at the time of their birth.
“The children would not be entitled to Dominican nationality even though they were born, even though they were registered, they have passports,” said Liliana Gamboa, an activist with the Open Society Justice Initiative.
She said the ruling, handed down in September, reaches back all the way to 1929. It mainly impacts generations of Dominicans whose parents, and even grandparents, were born across the border in Haiti. She said the ruling is a violation of human rights.
“There is a psychological impact that from one day to another one the government tells you, you are no longer a citizen of that country,” she said.
Officials with the United Nations Refugee Agency agree, saying this community could be left without access to basic government services.
Some Dominicans in New York said the ruling re-ignites long standing racial tensions among Dominicans and Haitians, who share the island of Hispaniola.
“It’s a violation of people, of citizens, of humans, of a people that have contributed greatly to the building of the Dominican Republic,” said Dominican-American blogger Alicia Anabel Santos.
The court ruling, which cannot be appealed, backed a constitutional amendment adopted in 2010 that said Dominican citizenship is attained at birth only if parents are Dominican of Dominican descent or if foreign-born parents are legal at the time of birth.
The President of the Dominican Liberation Party said the ruling is only meant to regulate the amount of undocumented immigrants in the country. Activists disagree.