Ruling of Dominican Republic's Constitutional Court could have a devastating impact on thousands of children: UNICEF

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Haitian family

UNICEF – the UN Children's Fund has urged the Government of the Dominican Republic to adopt, with the support of the United Nations system, a procedure to protect every child's right to acquire a nationality, in accordance with the country's international human rights obligations.

In a statement Wednesday on the Constitutional Court's decision on Dominican-born persons of Haitian descent, UNICEF says it "stands ready to support the Dominican Republic authorities with the identification and implementation of procedures that would fully respect children's rights."

The UN children's agency says "The ruling by the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic depriving Dominican-born persons of Haitian descent of their right to citizenship could have a devastating impact on thousands of children.

It says without a nationality, stateless children can be denied access to basic social protection programmes, cannot earn education certificates or graduate, or obtain an identity card or a passport.

And it warns that without these basic protections and opportunities, these children are more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

UNICEF says the decision contradicts numerous court decisions and treaties to which the Dominican Republic is party, and contravenes basic principles of human rights.

It notes that "The Dominican Republic is a state party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (2001), which clearly articulates that in all state actions concerning children, the best interest of the child must be the primary consideration".

The UN agency says "The provisions of the new ruling could place these children at risk of deportation, in violation of the principles articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly articles 12 and 15."

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’33″

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