Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2001 - Dominican Republic

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 20 June 2001
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2001 - Dominican Republic , 20 June 2001, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3b31e16114.html [accessed 21 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

There were 516 known refugees in the Dominican Republic at the end of 2000, 472 of whom were Peruvians. During the year, 50 persons applied for asylum in the Dominican Republic, including 37 from Haiti. Of these, 15 received refugee status; 5 were denied; and 9 were withdrawn. At year's end, 26 asylum applications were pending.

Asylum Procedure

The Dominican Republic is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol, and has enacted implementing legislation. Asylum seekers submit applications to the National Office for Refugees (NOR) within the Directorate of Migration. The NOR is responsible for receiving asylum claims and issuing documentation to asylum seekers.

The NOR refers all asylum cases to the National Commission for Refugees (NCR), which adjudicates asylum claims. An NCR technical subcommission makes a first-instance refugee status determination within 30 days of the NOR referral. Asylum applicants rejected in the first instance have seven days to seek an NCR review. The NCR also informs the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of its decision and allows UNHCR to seek review, also within seven days. The NCR itself carries out the review and makes a final status determination. Pending that decision, asylum seekers cannot work. There is no formal procedure for appeal or judicial review.

Restrictive Measures

The Dominican Republic generally does not detain asylum seekers, although the Directorate of Migration has its own detention cells in common prisons for undocumented aliens who have not registered asylum claims.

More than one million Haitians are estimated to live and work in the Dominican Republic. Relatively few Haitians, even among those who have lived in the Dominican Republic for many years, have proper documentation. Births of children born to Haitians in the Dominican Republic are often unregistered in either the Dominican Republic or Haiti. Consequently, many children and grandchildren of Haitians in the Dominican Republic have no recognized nationality.

There is no way to determine how many Haitians might credibly fear persecution if returned to Haiti. Reportedly, the Dominican Republic deports many Haitians without providing them a meaningful opportunity to establish refugee claims or to otherwise show that they have a legal right to remain in the Dominican Republic. According to UNHCR, the Dominican government did not deport any recognized Haitian refugees in 2000.

In April, the Dominican Republic resumed mass deportations of persons suspected of being undocumented Haitians, despite a November 1999 "urgent action" issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urging the Dominican Republic to cease the practice.

The number of mass expulsions had diminished in the first months of 2000.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported that immigration or military officials arrested persons suspected to be undocumented Haitians and transported them to the Haitian border without an opportunity to prove their legal status or collect their personal belongings. NGOs alleged that the expulsions constituted violations of Dominican and international law and a December 1999 agreement between Haiti and the Dominican Republic that established procedures to safeguard the rights of Haitians subject to repatriation. The U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) and other NGOs protested the deportations in a May letter to Leonel Fernández Reyna, president of the Dominican Republic.

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