The Dominican Republic (DR) is to renew citizenship papers for some 53,000 people born in the DR to Haitian immigrant parents, after a constitutional court ruling in September 2013 found that native-born children of illegal immigrants did not have the right to citizenship.
Statements by DR officials on Wednesday come amid a growing wave of anti-Haitian feeling and diplomatic breakdown between the two Caribbean neighbors, following the lynching of a Haitian migrant in February.
On Wednesday, the Electoral Board published on its website the findings of a comprehensive audit of 10 million birth certificates from 1929 to 2007 to determine whether the descendants of Haitian immigrants have the right to Dominican citizenship.
Electoral Board President Roberto Rosario said that of all the files reviewed, only 132 might face trial for fraudulent registration, and that another 4,000 files are currently under investigation.
According to Rosario, only 24,000 people have been affected by the legal uncertainty. However, various human-rights organizations have argued that some 210,000 Haitian-descent citizens have become stateless as a result of the Constitutional Court ruling.
“This audit does not result in any benefit for us, it’s not a real guarantee,” Haitian rights activist Ana María Belique told Associated Press.
Belique, whose residency permit has been withheld by the Dominican government, thinks the audit is just an excuse to keep delaying the delivery of the documentation.
In 2013 the Constitutional Court ordered the opening of individual trials to annul the citizenship of those born in the DR between 1929 and 2007 and whose parents didn’t have a residency permit, representing the majority of the country’s Haitian-descent citizens.
With the decision, the court endorsed a practice ongoing since 2007, whereby the DR withholds birth certificates and IDs from Haitian-descent citizens, accusing them accused of registration fraud to illegally obtain DR nationality.
Human-rights groups such as the Centro Bonó Jesuit Institute claimed that without documentation thousands of Dominicans could not study, get a job, open a bank account, or even get married and register their children.
The Solidarity Committee for Denationalized Persons explained on Monday that half of the population affected by the measure weren’t able to obtain a renewal of their Dominican citizenship.
Last year the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the DR guilty of human-rights violations for “illegal and arbitrary detentions and further summary deportations of Dominican and Haitian nationals from the Dominican Republic to Haiti” between 1999 and 2000.