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Statement attributable to UNICEF on the Constitutional Court decision on Dominican-born persons of Haitian descent

NEW YORK, 9 October 2013 – “The ruling by the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic depriving Dominican-born persons of Haitian descent of their right to citizenship could have a devastating impact on thousands of children.   Without a nationality, stateless children can be denied access to basic social protection programmes, cannot earn education certificates or graduate, or obtain an identity card or a passport. Without these basic protections and opportunities, these children are more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

“The decision contradicts numerous court decisions and treaties to which the Dominican Republic is party, and contravenes basic principles of human rights.

“A 2005 judgment by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the issue of nationality in the Dominican Republic and the recommendations made by the UN Treaty-based bodies and the Human Rights Council clearly set out that cases involving the violations of children’s rights are particularly serious.

“The Dominican Republic is a state party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (2001), which clearly articulates that in all state actions concerning children, the best interest of the child must be the primary consideration.

“In 2008, in the concluding observations for the Dominican Republic, the Committee on the Rights of the Child noted that the constitutional right of acquiring nationality by jus solis was frequently denied to children who did not have regular birth certificates or were born to parents whose residency had not been regularized in the Dominican Republic. The Committee expressed serious concern at the large numbers of stateless children generated by this policy.

“The provisions of the new ruling could place these children at risk of deportation, in violation of the principles articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly articles 12 and 15.

“UNICEF urges the Dominican Government to adopt, with the support of the United Nations system, a procedure to protect every child’s right to acquire a nationality, in accordance with the country’s international human rights obligations.

“UNICEF stands ready to support the Dominican Republic authorities with the identification and implementation of procedures that would fully respect children’s rights.”

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UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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For further information, please contact:

Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, Tel:  1 212 326 7452 kdonovan@unicef.org




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