Last Updated: Friday, 25 July 2014, 12:52 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Dominican Republic

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2003
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Dominican Republic , 1 June 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3eddc48e8.html [accessed 28 July 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.

In 2002, the Dominican Republic hosted an estimated 250 refugees and pending asylum seekers. Haitians made up most of the estimated 100 new asylum claims presented in 2002.

Asylum Procedure

The Dominican Republic is a party to the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol, and has enacted implementing legislation. According to the law, asylum seekers submit applications to the National Office for Refugees (NOR) within the Directorate of Migration. The NOR should interview, recommend, and prepare cases to be submitted to the National Commission for Refugees (NCR) which adjudicates the claims. The NCR informs both the applicant and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of their decision. UNHCR may ask the NCR to review provisions, but there is no procedure for appeal or judicial review.

During the year, the NOR created unnecessary obstacles which limited access to the asylum process. Staff at the NOR required prescreening interviews with asylum seekers, before issuing appropriate identity documents. They also demanded unnecessary documentation that was difficult for asylum seekers to obtain, such as birth certificates of their children. Sufficient interpreters in the most common languages were often not available and, at times, the NOR refused to renew asylum seeker's documents, although no decision had been made on their cases.

Once again, the NCR did not meet during the year, causing the backlog of asylum cases to increase. Asylum seekers are not permitted to work while their claims are pending, causing hardship.

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

At the border, asylum seekers are generally allowed to enter and apply for refugee status. However, the government periodically closes the border for political reasons, blocking Haitians from seeking asylum. In November, the United States pledged to assist the Dominican army to control the border with Haiti and donated 20,000 M-16 assault rifles.

Haitians Dominican authorities estimate that one million Haitians live in the Dominican Republic. With the United States crackdown on Haitian migrants arriving in the United States, the Dominican Republic fears that even more Haitians will try to escape Haiti by crossing into the Dominican Republic. Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent are routinely deported from the Dominican Republic. Persons who appear to be Haitian are rarely given a chance to challenge their expulsion.

Haitians generally lack legal status in the Dominican Republic. Although children born in the Dominican Republic are entitled to its citizenship, the Dominican Republic considers most Haitians to be "in transit," and denies citizenship to their children born in the country. In December, however, a district court in the Dominican Republic ordered the government to grant citizenship to two children born to undocumented Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic. The government stated it would appeal to the Supreme Court.

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