Mexico City, D.F., October 7, 2013 – On October 8, 2013, in the Library of the Citadel in Mexico City, a public hearing on the case Benito Tide Méndez et al v. Dominican Republic will begin. This cases addresses the collective expulsion of six family groups between 1999 and 2000.
The case deals with the structural racial discrimination which exists on the island. This discrimination manifests itself in terms of the exclusion and restriction of the rights of the Dominican population of Haitian ancestry, the group to which the majority of victims in the present case pertain.
One of the consequences of this phenomenon, which will be specifically addressed in the hearing, is the collective expulsion of afro descendents without the implementation of the necessary measures to ensure due process on immigration, on the basis that their skin color determines their status as foreigners.
The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitianas (Movement of Dominico-Haitian Women, MUDHA), Groupe d'Appui aux Rapatriés et Réfugiés (Support Group for Refugees and Repatriated Persons, GARR), and Columbia Law School Human Rights Law Clinic, New York will act as the representatives of the victims before the Inter-American Court in this public hearing.
Francisco Quintana, CEJIL’s Program Director for the Andean, North America and Caribbean Region, stated that: “the negation of racial discrimination constitutes the greatest obstacle to the seeking of an effective solution to the problems that the affected population suffers. This issue is extremely serious; we are talking about structural discrimination which has impacted, as well as in terms of expulsions, on the restriction of the recognition of fundamental rights such as nationality”.
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination analyzed this phenomenon and concluded in its March 2013 report on the nation that structural discrimination directly affects the afro descendent population, submitting them to clear exclusion and a restriction of their fundamental rights and opportunities for development.
The international organism requested various measures for the implementation of public policies which recognize and identify the statistics of existing racial discrimination, adjusting migratory policies and impeding the denationalization of people whose situations could lead them to a condition of statelessness.
“We hope that the Inter-American Court takes on board the diverse analysis and pronouncements made by the Committee, as well as by the Committee on the Rights of Children and the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, in relation to the Dominican State”, added Paola García Rey, consultant for the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Colombia.
Cristiana Luis Francisca, President of Mudha, pointed out that “once again we have had to turn to the Inter-American System of Human Rights. The Dominican State has not left us any other alternative, as the frequent violation of rights continues to be a national reality. Equally, there is a lack of open and respectful dialogue between human rights and the authorities and organizations. Today, we are before the Inter-American Court, and if it is necessary, we will resort to the United Nations”.
During the hearing before the Inter-American Court on October 8, the judges will hear declarations presented by the representative organizations. Amongst them are the testimony of one of the Dominican victims expelled alongside with his family in 2000; the testimonies of two experts in migration policy and the correct application of international law standards on this issue; and an expert on racial discrimination in America and Africa.
The organizations request that in its decision on the case, the Inter-American Court grants integral reparations to the victims, including a public apology for the events in the name of the State. Furthermore, they request that it establishes the measures that the Dominican State must adopt in order to avoid the repetition of events. Recognizing the existing problem of racial discrimination is the first step necessary for the reversal of the patterns of exclusion and xenophobia within the nation.