Photo: Dominican Republic
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case No. 12.271, Benito Tide Méndez et al., Dominican Republic.
The facts of this case refer to the arbitrary detention and summary expulsion from the territory of Dominican Republic into Haiti of Benito Tide Méndez, William Medina Ferreras, Lilia Jean Pierre, Jeanty Fils-Aime, Janise Midi, Ana Virginia Nolasco, Andrea Alezy, Rafaelito Pérez Charles, Víctor Jean, Marlene Mesidor, and the children Wilda Medina, Luis Ney Medina, Carolina Isabel Medina, Nene Fils-Aime, Antonio Fils-Aime, Diane Fils-Aime, Marilobi Fils-Aime, Endry Fils-Aime, Andren Fils-Aime, Juan Fils-Aime, Ana Lidia Sensión, Reyita Antonia Sensión, Berson Gelin, McKenson Jean, Victoria Jean, Miguel Jean, and Nathalie Jean.
The summary expulsions occurred in a context of collective and mass expulsions of individuals, affecting both Dominicans and foreigners and both documented and undocumented persons who had their permanent residence in the country and strong employment and familial ties with the Dominican Republic. Phenotypical characteristics and a darker skin color were decisive factors when individuals were selected for detention and subsequent expulsion, indicating a pattern of discrimination. All the victims of the case were expelled to Haiti.
The repatriation procedure in effect at the time of these events was not applied to the victims in this case, but rather that these were de facto expulsions without any legal support or subsequent administrative or judicial review, based on racial prejudices. The victims were not provided with legal assistance, did not have the opportunity to appeal the decision, nor was there any order from a competent, independent, and impartial authority ruling on their deportation.
Some of the expelled victims were Dominican nationals and had the relevant documentation to demonstrate that status. However, during their arbitrary detention and expulsion, the victims did not have a formal opportunity to present that documentation. In those cases where it was presented, it was destroyed by the Dominican officials. The existance of a series of impediments preventing the Haitian migrants from regularizing their legal situation in the country and registering their children born in Dominican territory constituted an arbitrary deprivation of citizenship that fostered the detention and possible deportation of nationals and placed the victims in a situation of extreme risk and vulnerability.
The State ratified the American Convention on Human Rights on April 19, 1978 and accepted the contentious jurisdiction of the Court on March 25, 1999. The Inter-American Commission submitted to the jurisdiction of the Court the facts and violations of human rights incurred by the State that have continued since the acceptance of the contencious competence of the Tribunal, that is, the situation of impunity in which the violations of this case continue, the arbitrary detention and summary expulsion of Berson Gelin, Andrea Alezy, Rafaelito Pérez Charles, and the families Medina Ferreras, Fils-Aime and Jean, as well as the effects of the summary expulsion of Ana Virginia Nolasco, Ana Lidia Sensión and Reyita Antonia Sensión.