Press release

Inter-American Court Should Affirm Right to Nationality Without Discrimination

April 18, 2005
Brooke Havlik

NEW YORK—In a brief filed late last week, the Open Society Justice Initiative requested the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to uphold the international prohibition on racial discrimination in access to nationality in a landmark case currently before the court.

The case, Dilcia Yean and Violeta Bosico v. Dominican Republic, involves two girls born in the Dominican Republic to women of Haitian descent. The girls were denied Dominican nationality despite the fact that the Dominican constitution guarantees nationality to everyone born in the country, a principle known as jus solis. As a result, they could not enroll in school and remained vulnerable to expulsion from the country. Oral argument in the case took place on March 14-15, 2005. The decision of the court is pending.

The Justice Initiative appears in the case as amicus curiae. Its submission argues that racial discrimination in access to nationality violates Articles 1, 20, and 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights, as well as long-standing provisions of international law. The brief shows that the Dominican Republic systematically discriminates both directly and indirectly against persons of Haitian descent in access to nationality, in contravention of the Dominican constitution. It further demonstrates that racial discrimination in access to nationality is a global problem, thereby highlighting the potential contribution of a court ruling on international jurisprudence in the area of nondiscrimination.


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