Haitian migrants denied basic rights in Dominican Republic

Haitians cross the river separating Haiti and the Dominican Republic to buy and sell in the twice-weekly market in Dajabon

Haitians cross the river separating Haiti and the Dominican Republic to buy and sell in the twice-weekly market in Dajabon

© Amnesty International

21 March 2007

"If you are black, with identity card or without it, with birth certificate or without, it is the same, it has no value…. In the streets, with migration officials, you don’t have any rights." - T. G., a Dominican of Haitian descent

An eight-year-old girl was seized by officials in the streets of the Dominican capital Santo Domingo in the evening of 4 January 2006. She was slapped across the face twice, hard enough to make her mouth bleed. Then she was taken to a detention centre for irregular migrants, without being allowed to contact her parents, and held overnight.

She was only saved from being expelled to neighbouring Haiti when a local human rights organization proved she was a Dominican national – because she was black, officials had assumed she was Haitian and in the country without legal permission.

As well as the risk of expulsion, Dominican children of Haitian descent face barriers when they try to obtain a birth certificate from the Civil Registrar Office. Without a birth certificate (the identification document for minors), they are unable to study beyond primary level.

They are also unable to claim an identity card when they become 18, barring them from the formal job market and from voting. Parents without documents cannot register their children, leaving many thousands effectively stateless, and perpetuating the cycle of deprivation of rights.

Amnesty International calls on the Dominican authorities to end arbitrary expulsions of Haitian migrants and discriminatory policies that prevent Dominicans of Haitian descent from obtaining Dominican nationality.

Dominican Republic: A life in transit - The plight of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent

Index Number: AMR 27/001/2007
Date Published: 21 March 2007
Categories: Americas, Dominican Republic

This report focuses on discrimination faced by Haitian migrant workers and Dominicans of Haitian descent and the barriers to their full and effective enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in the Dominican Republic. It details Amnesty International's current human rights concerns regarding discrimination, racism and xenophobia against Haitian migrant workers.

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