Chanting "We're Dominicans and we're staying here," hundreds of people of Haitian descent and their supporters gathered in front of the Congress building in Santo Domingo on March 12 in the latest protest against Decision 168-13, a ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal (TC) last September declaring that no one born to undocumented immigrants since 1929 was a citizen. Among the groups participating in the "Day of Fasting and Prayer" were the Bonó Center, a Catholic human rights organization, and Reconoci.do, a youth movement that has been organizing demonstrations for two years on the 12th day of the month to demand papers for the Dominican-born children of immigrants. Manuel María Mercedes and other members of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) joined the protest, as did legislative deputies Hugo Tolentino Dipp and Guadalupe Valdez and former labor minister Max Puig.
On Feb. 5 the Dominican government presented the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva with its National Regularization of Foreigners Plan, a program for determining the status of the tens of thousand Dominican residents who were stripped of their citizenship last September by a Constitutional Tribunal (TC) ruling. The court's Decision 168-13 declared that no one born to undocumented immigrants since 1929 was a citizen. Human rights groups estimate that this affects some 200,000 people, mainly Dominicans of Haitian descent.
Hundreds of Haitian immigrants fled the Dominican Republic from Nov. 23 to Nov. 25 following reports that mobs were killing Haitians in revenge for the murder of a Dominican couple; one or two men, reportedly Haitians, raped and murdered 63-year-old Luja Díaz Encarnación in the course of a robbery on Nov. 22 and killed her 70-year-old husband, José Méndez, in Neyba, the capital of the southwestern Dominican province of Baoruco. According to the Haitian nonprofit Support Group for the Repatriated and Refugees (GARR), 347 Haitian citizens were repatriated in just two days, Nov. 23 and Nov. 24, at the southern border crossing between the Dominican city of Jimaní and the Haitian town of Malpasse; the refugees included 107 children. The fleeing immigrants told GARR that four Haitians had been killed with machetes and their bodies had been burned.
The Guyana-based Secretariat of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), an organization of 15 Caribbean countries, issued a statement on Oct. 17 criticizing a ruling by the Dominican Republic's Constitutional Tribunal (TC) that denied citizenship to people born in the country to undocumented immigrant parents. Immigrant rights activists say the TC's Sept. 23 ruling affects more than 200,000 Dominicans, mostly the descendants of Haitian immigrants, and includes people born as early as 1929 who have been recognized as Dominican citizens for more than a half century. The ruling makes people "stateless in violation of international human rights obligations," the CARICOM statement charged; the Secretariat called on the Dominican government to protect the rights of "those made vulnerable by this ruling and its grievous effects." Haiti is a CARICOM member; the Dominican government has indicated that it plans to join. (New York Times, Oct. 17, from AP)
In a decision dated Sept. 23 the Dominican Republic's Constitutional Tribunal (TC) in effect took away the citizenship of all people born in the country to out-of-status parents since June 20, 1929. The court noted that the authorities are currently studying birth certificates of more than 16,000 people and have refused to issue identity documents to another 40,000; the justices gave electoral authorities one year to determine which people would be deprived of their citizenship. Since most undocumented immigrants in the Dominican Republic are Haitians, the ruling mainly affects Dominicans of Haitian descent. The TC is the highest court for constitutional issues, and the decision—TC/0168/13, in the case of the Haitian-descended Juliana Deguis Pierre—cannot be appealed.
As many as 200 Dominicans of Haitian descent demonstrated in front of the National Palace in Santo Domingo on July 12 to demand that President Danilo Medina take a position on the refusal of the Central Electoral Council (JCE) to provide them with their birth certificates and other legal documents. According to the Reconoci.do youth movement, some 22,000 citizens of Haitian descent are unable to enter universities or even to get married because for the last seven years the Civil Registry, which is controlled by the JCE, has been denying them their legal documents--part of a series of anti-immigrant acts that included amending the Constitution in 2010 to limit citizenship to people with Dominican parents. Protesters denounced the denial of their papers as "a discriminatory policy directed against thousands of people from one group, the Dominican children of Haitians, and not the descendants…of Spanish, French, Italian or Chinese people."
The Appeals Court of Copiapó province in Chile's northern Atacama region issued an order on April 10 completely suspending work at the massive Pascua Lama facility, an open-pit gold, silver and copper mine under construction in the Andes on both sides of the border between Argentina and Chile. The order was in response to a complaint filed by five communities of indigenous Diaguitas in the Huasco Valley; the residents charged that the work was damaging the Toro 1, Toro 2 and Esperanza glaciers and contaminating water resources in the area, according to Lorenzo Soto, the communities' lawyer. The Chilean government's National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin) and the Environmental Evaluation Service have also found environmental damage from the project. Construction is about 40% complete at the mine site, which is under the control of the Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation.
After months of struggle, 112 Haitian workers laid off last year by a coconut processing plant in the southern Dominican province of San Cristóbal learned on April 1 that they had won their suit for severance pay and back wages. In a March 18 decision that wasn't made public for two weeks, San Cristóbal Civil Appeals Court president Juan Procopio Pérez ordered the company, Coquera Real, and its owner, Rafael Emilio Alonso Luna ("Billo"), to pay 10 million pesos ($243,015) in back wages and 30 million pesos ($729,042) in fines for "non-payment of benefits over a period of 10 years." The court ordered the immediate seizure of Coquera Real's property to guarantee payment, as the company has declared bankruptcy.