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article imageHaitians in Dominican Republic 'ghost citizens': Amnesty

By AFP     Nov 19, 2015 in World

The Dominican Republic violated international law by stripping several generations of people of Haitian descent of their citizenship, Amnesty International found.

Tens of thousands of people were effectively rendered stateless and "ghost citizens," according to an Amnesty report pointing to policies set in motion in the 1990s and a more recent 2013 ruling.

"Authorities in the Dominican Republic must urgently find a long-term solution to this crisis," Amnesty Americas director Erika Guevara-Rosas said.

Amnesty has joined other human rights groups in feverishly documenting the accounts of people of Haitian origin caught up under a new Dominican law in sometimes arbitrary arrests since it took effect in June.

It stems from the 2013 court ruling which said people born in the Dominican Republic of parents without legal residency are no longer considered Dominican. Most are of Haitian origin.

The decision hurt ties between the two countries that share the island of Hispaniola.

For many Haitians, the treatment amounts to racism against black people by Dominicans, most of whom are lighter skinned and of mixed heritage.

Overnight, more than 250,000 people -- mostly those born of Haitian parents -- became stateless under the court ruling.

In response to an international outcry Santo Domingo established a process by which some 50,000 of those immigrants would be allowed to stay. But the majority were unable to finish the process in time for a June 17 deadline.

"The law created an impediment to the full exercise of their right to nationality and therefore violated international law," Amnesty said in its report.

"The decision of the Dominican Constitutional Court... resulted in a large number of people being arbitrary deprived of nationality and subsequently exposed to a situation of statelessness."

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