Working to secure the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples

Minority Rights Group International campaigns worldwide with around 130 partners in over 60 countries to ensure that disadvantaged minorities and indigenous peoples, often the poorest of the poor, can make their voices heard.

This information pack has been produced with the support of E4D.

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Statelessness in the Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic, 2015
'One swallow does not mean it is summer.' Sonia Pierre, founder of Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitianas (MUDHA)

Dominicans of Haitian descent very often cannot have access to education, health care, work, travel, justice or get married in the country where they belong. Through interviews, a documentary and legal research, this publication describes the extremely difficult situation of this minority community in the Caribbean.

Chapter One

‘I was travelling in a guagua (local bus) when a migration officer stopped the bus, jumped in and asked “All foreigners give me your ID documents.” No one reacted. Immediately after, the migration officer went directly to the darker skinned people in the bus and personally asked us for our documents. We were all Dominicans.’ […]

5 min read

Chapter Two

Our Lives in Transit, is a 30-minute documentary showing life in the Dominican Republic in the aftermath of a controversial law that leaves over 200,000 people doubting their own identity. Rosa Iris is a young and determined lawyer; we experience a year in her life as she fights for the rights of her community. There is a huge […]

This photostory exposes the realities of life for seven young Dominicans of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic. Photographs by Dominique Telemaque. Text written by Paula Nieto. ELENA Generations of official nonexistence ‘I am Dominican and I want to have my documents,’ she says. Though born in the Dominican Republic from Haitian parents 26 years […]

6 min read

Chapter Three

MRG began working in the Dominican Republic in 2010, implementing a pilot cultural project with the community of Dominicans of Haitian descent. In partnership with Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico­ Haitianas (MUDHA), a street theatre project was implemented. A group of professional and amateur actors were recruited and trained to make a play about racism in their society and perform […]

1 min read

In this country you do not exist if you do not have an ID card.

Higna, Dominican of Haitan descent

Chapter Four

The infographic below is a visual description of the situation of statelessness in the Dominican Republic. Click to view and download a PDF. Designed by Maria Maturana

Chapter Five

The right to nationality is guaranteed in numerous human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (Article 15), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 7), and the American Convention on Human Rights (Article 20). While states can regulate the acquisition and retention of nationality, they must respect fundamental human rights norms in doing so. […]

3 min read

From the 1920s, during the dictatorships of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Haitians began to migrate to the Dominican Republic as sugarcane cutters in state­owned or private companies. Initially, this was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, but as time passed Haitians settled down indefinitely in the slums (bateyes) close to the plantations.

Chapter Six

Despite many Dominicans, Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitians coexisting peacefully for decades, old fears – including of a ‘Haitian invasion’ – have increased in the Dominican Republic. This has caused discrimination against Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent. The Dominican Republic is located in the Caribbean between Cuba and Puerto Rico. It shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. […]

1 min read

Chapter Seven

In 2005 the Inter­-American Court of Human Rights issued the “Yean and Bosico” case judgement. The Dominican Republic was found guilty of discriminatory treatment when granting the Dominican nationality to two girls who are Dominicans of Haitian descent, leaving them stateless. This violated fundamental rights like the right to nationality and the right to a fair trial, amongst others. […]

2 min read

Chapter Eight

At least 10 million people worldwide have no nationality; most through no fault of their own. This occurrence, known as “statelessness”, can happen because of discrimination, the re-drawing of borders or gaps in nationality laws. Without a nationality, a person often forfeits the basic rights that all citizens should enjoy: access to education and the […]