Case of Mass Expulsions of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent from the Dominican Republic
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; Inter-American Court of Human Rights
In 1999, a coalition of non-governmental organizations, including Columbia’s Human Rights Clinic, filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on behalf of 28 individuals, both Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent, who were among the tens of thousands of people collectively deported to Haiti by the Dominican Republic in 1999 during a mass expulsion campaign directed against ethnic Haitians.
Students in the Human Rights Clinic, along with co-counsel at the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the Santo-Domingo-based Movement for Dominico-Haitian Women (MUDHA), and the Port-au-Prince-based Group for Repatriates and Refugees (GARR), are currently working toward a holistic solution to the problem of mass expulsions, combining litigation in the Inter-American system with other advocacy efforts. The litigation takes place on two tracks: provisional measures (before the Inter-American Court) and merits (before the Inter-American Commission).
Clinic students have appeared before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights—the two human rights organs of the Organization of American States. Students have also traveled to the Dominican Republic and Haiti to update clients and attend meetings with representatives from NGOs, the Dominican government, and the Inter-American Commission. In 2000, 2001, and 2006, the Inter-American Court granted provisional measures to petitioners. In 2002, the Dominican government took its first step toward complying with these provisional measures by issuing petitioners safe-passage documents (salvoconductos) that allow them to move freely between the Dominican Republic and Haiti and to work in the Dominican Republic until their case is resolved. One result of the case has been the reunification of a family whose members had been separated since the 1994 expulsion to Haiti of a mother and two daughters from the Dominican Republic.
Clinic students regularly travel to the Dominican Republic and Haiti to meet with the petitioners in the case and update them on the status of the case and to attend meetings with representatives from local NGOs and the Dominican government.