Clinic News

Boalt Clinic Joins in Dominican Rights Victory (Oct. 2005)

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights announced in October, 2005 a victory for two girls of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic who had been denied basic citizenship rights--a case initiated in 1998 by Boalt's International Human Rights Law Clinic and two other groups.

In the decision, the court found that the Dominican Republic had violated the rights of children of Haitian ancestry and rendered them stateless by refusing to issue birth certificates and denying basic citizenship rights because of their race. The court recognized the right to nationality as the gateway to the enjoyment of all other rights and found that children who are denied their birth certificates are also denied their membership to a political community.

"This watershed decision will change the Dominican Republic just as Brown v. Board of Education changed the United States," said Professor Laurel Fletcher, director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic. Fletcher and Roxanna Altholz (a 1999 Boalt graduate and currently a lecturer in residence with the clinic) argued the case before the Costa Rica-based court in March. (For more details, read the full story.)

The complete judgment can be found in English and Spanish.