SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) – The government of the Dominican Republic has developed a plan to resolve the legal status of people who face the prospect of being stripped of their citizenship because of a recent court ruling, a spokesman for the president said Friday.
President Danilo Medina and senior government officials approved the plan at a private meeting and the details will be released when the decree is signed and goes into effect in the coming days, spokesman Roberto Rodríguez said.
Rodríguez announced the decision at a news conference after the meeting and declined to answer questions. Earlier, Interior Minister José Ramón Fadul said the plan would reflect the consensus of a broad set of interests in the country.
The plan is the government's first formal response to a Sept. 23 court ruling that determined that the Constitution approved in 2010 does not bestow citizenship to people born in the country unless at least one parent was a legal resident and ordered officials to purge the electoral rolls of suspected non-citizens going back to 1929.
Human rights advocates have said the court ruling could disenfranchise more than 200,000 people, stripping them of the documents they need to work and attend school and denying them passports that they would need to travel overseas. Most of those whose names have already been removed from the voter rolls are people of Haitian descent, often sugar workers and their descendants.
The Dominican government has bristled at international criticism of what it says is an internal affair and says an initial count showed the number affected is around 24,000. They say many of those affected can quality for citizenship in neighboring Haiti. Officials have said people can apply for temporary residency permits but migrants said they fear doing so would amount to abdicating their current status as a Dominican citizen.
"I thought and I still think that I am Dominican because I was born here and I have never been to Haiti," said Juliana Deguis, a woman whose legal challenge to an earlier ruling resulted in the Constitutional Court decision issued on Sept. 23.