SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – The Dominican government has confiscated or annulled nearly 1,600 birth certificates belonging to residents of Haitian descent, a migrant advocacy group charged Tuesday.
A government official denied anyone had been wrongly denied a birth certificate.
Sonia Adames, director of Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Services, told reporters the group’s investigation found 72 percent of those affected are between 15 and 30 years old and have been unable to find a job, open a bank account or enroll in school as a result.
She said 48 percent also have been unable to register their children as Dominican citizens.
Last year, the government amended the Caribbean country’s constitution to deny citizenship to children born in the Dominican Republic to foreign parents.
Adames said government officials have been applying the change retroactively to people of Haitian descent who already held citizenship.
Migrants from neighboring Haiti and other residents descended from Haitians have long complained they receive unequal treatment in the Dominican Republic.
Several local and international nonprofit groups have filed complaints similar to Adames’ charges with the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights, which is still holding hearings on the matter.
Roberto Rosario, president of the government’s Central Electoral Commission, denied Adames’ charges about citizenship abuses.
He said the commission made its own investigation last month. He said that of 120 cases studied, only eight were found to involve the denial of a birth certificate copy requested by a resident, and he said that was because of fraud.
Rosario said a 2007 measure that he approved to reduce the use of fake documents has not led to unnecessary confiscations or annulments of birth certificates for people of Haitian descent.