What We Saw: Delegation reports back after visit to DR-Haiti border

Rodline Louijeune, Boston Haitian Reporter

July 8, 2015

Human Rights Delegation Encounters Hundreds Fleeing the Dominican Republic into Haiti in Harrowing Conditions

In 2013, decision 168-13 by the Dominican Constitutional Court set in motion a series of events that have led to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Dominican Republic (DR), which has spilled, into Haiti. The 2013 decision retroactively stripped citizenship from anyone born in the DR to undocumented parents since 1929. This ruling effectively rendered about a quarter of a million people, who mostly worked in the sugar cane fields or on the construction projects across the DR, stateless.

Amid backlash from the international community, the Dominican government adopted Law 169-14, allowing many of these Dominicans of Haitian descent a legal pathway to retain their citizenship, as well as Decree 327-13, allowing Haitians in the DR without status to be regularized. Nevertheless, these processes were expensive and burdensome and very few had the means to obtain all the proper documentation before the application deadline. Consequently, many were forced across the border to a country that many barely knew.

On 25 June 2015, a delegation of nine human rights lawyers and law students from the United States, Haiti, Australia, and Canada visited the border between Haiti and the DR. Delegation members were drawn from the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). Over just four hours, the delegation witnessed hundreds of people crossing between the towns of Comendador (DR) and Belladère (Haiti).

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