In mid-March, the International Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC) presented before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights the first case against the Dominican Republic for violations of the rights to nationality and education. The clinic joined the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), and the Movement of Dominico-Haitian Women Inc. (MUDHA) in charging that the island nation, which shares a land border with Haiti, violated the rights of two Dominican girls to a nationality, education, equality before the law and judicial protection, and a name and protection of the family.
Clinic Director Laurel Fletcher traveled to Costa Rica, where the court is located, for the proceedings. Joining Professor Fletcher were clinic students Justin Berger ’06, Anu Menon ’05 and Tara Lundstrom ’06, who have been preparing for the trial since August 2004. They will make a presentation on the trial at Boalt on Wednesday, April 6, at 12:30 p.m.
Addressing the court, Professor Fletcher argued that the Dominican state refused to issue the girls’ birth certificates on discriminatory grounds. That decision was arbitrary and illegal in terms of the guarantees provided by the Dominican constitution. The facts of the case date to 1997 when the Dominican Republic rejected applications for the late birth registration of the two girls, who are of Haitian descent, despite evidence from their families that the girls were born to Dominican mothers within Dominican territory. A national policy classifies children of Haitian descent as Haitian and erroneously ineligible for Dominican nationality.
The court will decide the case within three months. Sentences of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights are binding upon those state members of the Organization of American States that have accepted the court’s jurisdiction.