Alex Laguerre, my kreyol teacher pointed out the obvious.
“Isn’t the Dominican Republic a sovereign country (pa Santo Domingo yon souverènte peyi)”, he asked. “On what grounds can the United Nations challenge its decision to change its citizenship laws (sou pwensip ki kapab nasyonzini défi desizyon li pou chanje lwa sitwayènte li)?”
Or words to that effect. My kreyol is tattered, if in fact it can be said to exist.
Anyway, it was easy to get his drift. What, if anything, will be the result of the general angst and outrage as also the concern expressed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights over last week’s DR Constitutional Court ruling? The court decreed that children of undocumented migrants born after 1929 can no rely on Dominican nationality.
Rewind just a tad. More precisely six years. On September 30, 2007, a press release by UN Special Rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Doudou Diene, and the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall had dismal things to say about the DR. After a week-long visit, they had found profound and entrenched racism and discrimination against blacks in general and Haitians in particular.
Some might read the recent DR court decision alongside that six-year-old press release, with all its dismal implications. But it’s a moot point if the DR can, as my kreyol teacher pointed out, be forced to comply with norms observed in other countries. The court’s decision may violate principles of natural justice (and may be a wrench, extraordinarily discombobulating and entirely unfair to the estimated 300,000 ethnic Haitians born and bred in the DR), but it doesn’t seem to violate international law.
For, this allows countries to use any or all or a mix of the following to determine citizenship:
– jus sanguinis or right of blood
– jus soli or right of soil
– jure matrimonii or by marriage to a citizen
– naturalization or a right obtained after years of residency and possibly the passing of a test etc
What law is the DR violating? That of fairness and humanity.
Perhaps an appeal to emotion might work better than to reason?