Inter-American Court maintains its competency to hear cases from Dominican Republic
The silence of the Dominican State and their lack of response keeps families in a situation of anguish and uncertainty, because their future remains unclear
25.April.2019

Santo Domingo and Washington, DC April 25, 2019.- In a resolution published on April 23rd, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I-A Court) reiterated its competency to decide and oversee human rights cases from the Dominican Republic and found that the Dominican Constitutional Court´s decision which attempted to overturn its jurisdiction is not valid, under international law. The same resolution also indicated that the country has not complied fully with the pending reparations ordered in the cases of Yean and Bosico; and with none of the reparations ordered in the case of Expelled Dominican and Haitian persons.

According to representatives of the Movement of Dominican-Haitian Women (MUDHA), the Court´s resolution correctly addresses the reality faced by all those affected by discrimination on the island;and how this affects people´s right to nationality. “The silence of the Dominican State and their lack of response keeps families in a situation of anguish and uncertainty, because their future remains unclear."

In its resolution, the Inter-American Court indicated that the Dominican State has not reported to the Court for four years on the process of judgement compliance. As a result, the State was held in contempt of its obligations under the American Convention. Moreover, the Court pointed out the Dominican State´s absence from the public hearing held on February 8, 2019, was an "affront" to one of the most effective mechanisms of the Inter-American System to advance with judgment compliance. Thus far, only two states have ever done this: Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

The Inter-American Court also indicated that the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic created an environment of legal uncertainty when issuing decision TC-256-14 in November 2014. This decision erroneously established that the Inter-American Court did not hold any authority to decide cases against the Dominican Republic and declared unconstitutional the mechanism which accepts the competence of the Inter-American Court. In light of this, the Inter-American Court considered that this ruling is a barrier for full compliance with justice for many of its cases. Additionally, the I-A Court noted that the date of the TC´s decision coincided with the date the Dominican Republic stopped informing the Court on its compliance with Inter-American judgements. As a result, the Court found that decision TC-256-14 has no validity in international law.

With regards to the Dominican Republic´s compliance with the reparations ordered in both judgments, the Court considered that the State has not complied with any of them, especially measures regarding guarantees of non-repetition. This specific non-compliance has a negative impact on the victims of the cases, as well as a wide swath of people- particularly Dominicans of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic- who have seen their right to nationality  threatened or violated, forcing them to live in a situation of statelessness.

"The Court's decision recognizes that the regulatory framework regarding nationality has not changed in the Dominican Republic since the Court issued its last Judgment in 2014, which continues to place thousands of people at risk of statelessness. As the Court points out, statelessness places people in a situation of extreme vulnerability, since it deprives them of access to rights such as education, work, health, among others," said lawyer Florencia Reggiardo from the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL).

The organizations representing the victims in this case expect that, as a result of this resolution, the Dominican State adopt concrete measures to advance in the fulfillment of all pending reparations and inform the Inter-American Court as soon as possible of the steps taken in this regard.