Category Archives: Law

Stateless Future for Dominicans of Haitian descent?

Hundreds of thousands of Haitian migrants, as well as Dominicans of Haitian  descent, face imminent risk of deportation from the country they call home. 17th June 2015 was the deadline for them to register for the country’s regularisation plan, giving them 45 days to complete their applications, whilst those who did not register in time face being deported.

A Dominico-Haitian woman. Credit: Sofia Olins/MRG

A Dominico-Haitian woman. Credit: Sofia Olins/MRG

The plan affects the Dominican Republic’s estimated 500,000 undocumented immigrants, leaving an uncertain future for many on the island who have wrestled with Dominican bureaucracy for a chance to stay.

According to the most up to date government figures, 288,466 people have registered. Those who are deemed eligible will be able to obtain temporary migrant status. The process of registration, however, has not been easy. Even when attempting to acquire the correct documentation, the obstacles faced by Dominico-Haitians have been extreme. For example, one man MRG spoke to spent approximately 13, 000 pesos (almost $300) on paperwork alone. He went three times to the registration office, each time waiting for more than five hours, and had to sleep there to obtain a place in the queue, only to be told that the requirements had changed. He even paid lawyers for documents which he later learned were no longer necessary.

It is important to note that many Dominico-Haitians simply cannot afford to begin this tortuous process. Some say they would prefer to use their income to feed their families rather than spend all their money on a procedure which is unlikely to improve their precarious status.

Dominico-Haitian men working in the sugar cane fields. Credit: Sofia Olins/MRG

Dominico-Haitian men working in the sugar cane fields. Credit: Sofia Olins/MRG

President Danilo Medina has stated there will be no mass deportations to Haiti and that people with uncompleted registrations have 45 days (starting on 18th June 2015) to submit all documents required. However, local news report that detention centres are being expanded, and migration police squads are readying to identify illegal immigrants in the country.

This regularisation plan (Plan Nacional de Regularizacion de Extranjeros) was supposedly the Government’s solution for migrants to gain legal status in the Dominican Republic. However, MRG feels the move is rooted in systematic discrimination in the country towards darker-skinned Dominicans.

For more information about the background to this situation, see MRG’s August 2014 press release.

“Land grabbing” in Africa: An emerging legal framework highlights a lack of accountability for the UK’s role in the violation of land rights

RebeccaLast month, in honour of Human Rights Day on the 8th of December, the London law firm Leigh Day hosted an event entitled “‘Land Grabs,’ Human Rights, and the UK.” Rebecca Marlin, MRG’s legal Fellow, reports back. Continue reading

Social media: the new frontline in the fight against hate speech

Tom greyscale cropTom Clarke, MRG’s Media Intern, talks about the growing impact of online hate speech and the problems facing those who hope to combat it.

Social media is lauded for its ability to disseminate information; fuel social change and protest movement; influence the powerful, and empower the marginalised. It’s fast becoming an essential component of NGO activity for all these reasons; but despite the praise, social media has a dark side. Continue reading

European Court of Human Rights upholds the ban on Hungarian Guard

Tanja  headshot

Tanja Venisnik, a lawyer assisting MRG’s Legal Cases team, delves more deeply into the background, and possible consequences, of a recent judgment by Europe’s highest court.

Taking a position on banning extremist political parties and groups that incite hatred, advocate violence and/or engage in hate crimes is no straightforward task. Continue reading

The ICC at 10 Years: Crises of Cooperation, Capacity and Legitimacy

chelsea-Awaaz-webChelsea Purvis and Awaz Raoof, lawyers who are currently assisting MRG’s Legal Cases Team, report back from a panel discussion in London hosted by the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. Continue reading

UK Parliamentary Recognition of Kurdish Genocide in Iraq: What This Means for Minority Groups Today

On the 25th Anniversary of the Halabja poison gas attack against Iraqi Kurds, Awaz Raoof, a UK lawyer currently assisting MRG’s legal cases team, reports back from the UK’s House of Commons.

Iraqi Kurds ride a donkey in Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan. Credit: james_gordon_losangeles

On 28 February 2013, the UK’s House of Commons formally recognised the genocide against Iraqi Kurds, coinciding with the 25th Anniversary of the ‘Anfal Campaign’ – a programme designed by the Ba’athi regime to systematically exterminate Kurds from Iraq. The House agreed to encourage governments, the EU and the UN, to formally recognise the genocide, believing that this would enable the Kurdish people to achieve justice, and demonstrate the UK’s support for human rights, made all the more important in light of the slaughter in Syria, and the possible use of chemical weapons there. Continue reading

Part 1: How to Skin a Porcupine

Daniel Openshaw, MRG’s Publications Intern, reports back from the Expert Seminar on Indigenous Peoples’ Languages and Cultures. In the first of two blogs he discusses the importance of cultural rights and their inseparability from rights to self determination and land. Continue reading