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Oblates Join Faith Groups in Protesting Debilitating Discrimination in the Dominican Republic

November 27th, 2013

Haitians in Dominican Republic

Photo Credit: HeatherXBradley; Used under Creative Commons License, Flickr

The Missionary Oblates have joined other faith-based organizations and churches in expressing “profound concern” at the September ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic that the children of all persons “in transit” in the country since 1929 are not Dominican. This is part of an on-going effort by the government of the Dominican Republic to deny citizenship and all the rights associated with that to Haitian migrant workers and the children born to them for the past 80+ years. Without legal documents of citizenship (birth certificate, ID cards, passports) Dominicans of Haitian descent are effectively stateless and are unable to go to school, access medical services, open bank accounts, get married, or make needed purchases.

Several years ago, two United Nations human rights experts described in a report a “profound and entrenched problem of racism and discrimination” against blacks in general — and Haitians in particular — in the Dominican Republic.

Dominican citizens of Haitian descent are often among the poorest of the poor. They are the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Haitians who crossed the border in search of a better life, and of migrant workers contracted by the Dominican government to help harvest sugarcane and other crops. They have helped build the wealth of communities, labored at the most difficult jobs, and contributed tremendously to Dominican society and economy. These Dominican citizens for generations have been fully integrated into Dominican society and have long since lost ties to Haiti.

The letter urges “the Dominican government to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to safeguard the nationality and citizenship rights of Dominico-Haitians. This includes ensuring that relevant ministries expedite processing the backlog for issuing of birth certificates and national I.D. cards to Dominicans of Haitian descent born prior to January 2010, whose Dominican nationality is protected by Dominican law as well conventions signed by government.”

The letter goes on to say: “As people of faith, we cannot remain silent as one entire section of the community is dehumanized simply because of the color of their skin and their cultural heritage. Jesus Christ welcomed all into the beloved community, and we cannot honor and follow our Lord and Savior by remaining silent in the face of such extreme injustice.”

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