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UN experts urge Dominican Republic to restore citizenship for those born in the country but not registered at birth

GENEVA (20 June 2014) – The United Nations Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent today called on the Government of the Dominican Republic to adopt the necessary legal measures to restore Dominican citizenship for all those born in the country, but not registered at birth.

The expert group’s call comes after the adoption of law 169-14 of May 23 to establish a special system for people born in the Dominican Republic and registered irregularly in the Dominican civil and naturalization registry.

“This is an important step towards rectifying the situation by which tens of thousands of persons of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic were rendered stateless by a ruling of the Constitutional Court on 23 September 2013,” said human rights expert Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, who currently heads the Working Group.

“However, it is crucial to restore citizenship of those born in the Dominican Republic who were not registered at birth, and who represent a large majority,” Ms. Mendes-France emphasized. “It is essential to have an effective and transparent process to ensure that the citizenship of these people is restored at the earliest.”

The human rights expert stressed that such a step would effectively reinforce the fight against discrimination and social exclusion faced mostly by people of African descent in the country.

The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent was established on 25 April 2002 by the then Commission on Human Rights, following the World Conference against Racism held in Durban in 2001. The Working Group is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Ms. Verene SHEPHERD (Jamaica), Chair-Rapporteur; Ms. Monorama BISWAS (Bangladesh); Ms. Mireille FANON-MENDES-FRANCE (France); Ms. Mirjana NAJCEVSKA (The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia); and Ms. Maya SAHLI (Algeria). Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Racism/WGAfricanDescent/Pages/WGEPADIndex.aspx

Check the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CERD.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Dominican Republic: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/DOIndex.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact Sandra Aragon-Parriaux (+41 22 928 9393 / saragon@ohchr.org) or write to africandescent@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en