I want to share my joy at the decision made by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights in the case of Expelled Dominican and Haitian Persons vs. the Dominican Republic.
The Court clarified several issues of great importance to the country and the continent: the scope of the right to nationality, the guarantee of equality and non-discrimination, the rights of persons born in the country and those who hold an irregular immigration status, among others.
As a result of over a decade of international litigation, it was possible to establish that the individuals we represented-17 out of 23 were Dominican, many of them children- were expelled from their own country in violation of the rights granted by the American Convention and other international human rights treaties because of the color of their skin.
The Inter-American Court examined in detail the practice, jurisprudence and legislation on migration, and reaffirmed what was mandated in the case of Yean and Bosico: the rules cannot be applied or interpreted as a way of limiting the right to citizenship of persons born in the country depending on the immigration status of their parents. More specifically, the Inter- American Court questioned the reasoning of the Constitutional Court (TC / 0168/13) in its decision on the matter, for its discriminatory effects and the possibility of making nearly two hundred thousand people stateless. Additionally, the Court stated that parts of the law that tries to solve the crisis of rights generated by the Constitutional Court should be rescinded, to the extent that it treats thousands of people as foreigners even if they were born in the Dominican Republic. The Court is clear in determining that the plaintiffs born in the country must have Dominican citizenship.
The Court has issued decisions on many countries and different situations. Decisions that are binding as established in the American Convention.
Several constitutional courts and supreme courts in the continent have changed their jurisprudence pursuant this jurisprudential dialogue and, sometimes, the control exercised by the Inter-American Court. In Argentina, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Mexico - among others -, there have been important steps in this direction. Moreover, countries such as Chile and Mexico have amended their own constitutions as a result of freedom of expression cases and serious violations of human rights.
Dominican Republic agreed to comply with the obligations established by the treaty in 1978, accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court in 1999 and for 15 years has appeared before the Court and has in various ways expressed its interest in strengthening the protection international rights.
Therefore, our expectation and hope centers on the fact that the different branches of the government, starting with the highest authorities, will respond to the Court's decision with serenity and the democratic commitment to ensure human rights, fully complying with the sentence. We expect from Dominican Republic what we expect from the rest of the region. Neither more nor less. For those interested in the subject, I urge you to read the decision and support this work for dignity from various perspectives.
The decision expresses the vocation of the highest Court of Justice of the region as rights defender. It is not an accusation against the country or an affront to its sovereignty, but an exercise of safeguarding rights internationally. Despite the decision to reject the ruling announced yesterday by government authorities, we hope we can sit down soon with them to initiate a new phase of dialogue.
This is one of the moments where we remember, with longing and satisfaction, our friend and colleague, Sonia Pierre, who led in her life many of the debates and struggles against discrimination of Dominican-Haitians.