World Vision expresses concern about recent events in Dominican Republic that are impacting tens of thousands of Dominican citizens, many of them children and young people of Haitian descent. As a leading Christian agency focused on child development and working in over 100 countries, including the Dominican Republic, we urge the international community to support the Dominican government to restore the full rights of citizenship of persons affected by resolution 168/13 and address other administrative procedures designed to deny citizenship and full social protection to vulnerable populations.
For decades, the Haitian descendants have struggled to gain consistent access to citizenship rights in Dominican Republic . In 2010, the Constitution was amended to deny citizenship to children born in the " in transit". This has applied particularly to families living and working in the sugar cane industry, despite the fact that they lived in Dominican Republic for decades.
More recently, on September 23, 2013, the Constitutional Court authorized the Dominican government to review the records of birth to 1929 children born to parents" in transit", depriving more than 240,000 people of safety through resolution 168/13. The UN Refugee Agency expressed concern, stating that, "If implemented this process without the necessary safeguards, three generations of Dominicans of Haitian descent could become stateless."
World Vision has worked in the Dominican Republic since 1989, serving the most marginalized communities and the most vulnerable children and young people, many of whom are Dominican citizens of Haitian descent. Many of the children and youth we serve are impacted negatively by this resolution; this will effectively render them stateless; they have violated an international human right and will make them undocumented immigrants in their country of birth.
World Vision has learned from experience that with no rights of citizenship, children are more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, including trafficking and child labour. Children, young people and their parents will be denied protection key social services and most likely suffer psychological trauma. On a practical level, such children, youth and their parents will find it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain birth certificates, study and access health care, work in the formal sector, and have access to pensions.
It is for these reasons that World Vision is concerned about resolution 168/13 and the accompanying discriminatory actions that are designed to eliminate the rights of citizenship. Stefan Pleisnitzer, World Vision Regional Leader Latin America and Caribbean, recently stated:
“We are particularly concerned about the negative impact that the resolution already has on children and young people, a population that must be protected and nurtured by the state and its institutions, neighbours, families and churches, and by the international community if the other safeguards fail. We have a moral obligation to urge the government of Dominican Republic to seek solutions that strengthen the rights of children, enabling them to achieve full protection."
World Vision recognizes the sovereignty of Dominican Republic to establish their own laws and policies on migration, but also calls on their leaders to restore the full rights of citizenship to people affected by resolution 168/13 and to address other administrative procedures, that are, in practice, denying full citizenship rights and social protection to vulnerable populations. We will remember the words our Lord taught us, "Do not mistreat or oppress foreigners, for you yourselves were aliens in the land of Egypt." Exodus 22:21.
World Vision is an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and witness the good news of the Kingdom of God. In the Dominican Republic, World Vision works with 184 communities, helping more than 40,000 children and young people directly.