Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Race’

Statelessness in the Dominican Republic and What It Says About International Law

August 25th, 2014 No comments

By: C. Nicholas Konetski 

Blog Category: International Law & Race

For most Americans, proving their citizenship is not a difficult task. For example, if I want to prove that I am a U.S. citizen, I can simply show my birth certificate or passport. If I cannot find either of these documents, I can obtain a certified copy from the appropriate agency. This task, however, would be a lot harder if the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that required these agencies to deny my request for a copy and inform me that those documents should never have been issued to me in the first place. A similar situation is essentially what is happening to thousands of Haitians with Dominican citizenship.

As a result of a recent decision by the highest court in the Dominican Republic, over 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent could lose their citizenship. The Court’s ruling is based on the claim that their birth certificates are invalid due to “irregular circumstances.” The background for this decision dates back almost 100 years, during a time when thousands of Haitians migrated to the Dominican to work in the sugar industry. Until recently, birthright citizenship, or jus soli, was followed by the Dominican government. Under jus soli, any child born to a Haitian migrant worker was automatically a citizen of the Dominican Republic.

Over the next decade, Haitians enjoyed both citizenship and work. Naturally, they developed many ties to the Dominican Republic. Towards the end of the 20th century, the sugar industry came to a halt, leaving thousands of Haitians without employment. This surplus of idle workers sparked a feeling of animosity among the Dominican people towards the Haitian race. In response to these feelings, the Dominican government informally began denying citizenship to Haitians that were born there and deportations began to rise. A few years later, in 2007 and in 2010, the government reformed its constitution to no longer accept birthright citizenship. Even worse for the Haitian migrants, the government decided to apply these reforms retroactively. This meant that after 1929, any citizen who obtained their citizenship through jus soli was not actually a citizen because their birth certificate was given under “irregular circumstances.”

The effects of these constitutional reforms and the recent high court decision are being felt by thousands of Haitians who have now become stateless. Most of these people, having spent their whole life in the Dominican Republic, have never even been to Haiti and are unable to obtain Haitian citizenship. Furthermore, any child born during this time is unable to be registered and therefore may not have even have documentation to prove their existence.

The decisions of the Dominican government have been heavily criticized on an international level. The Inter-American Commission has had these issues brought to its attention and has spoken out against the government’s actions. In addition, the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees, as well as the U.S. Department of State, have both denounced the unjust treatment of these Haitians. Still, nothing has been done to effectively solve the problem.

The injustices that are occurring in the Dominican are just another example of the shortcomings of International law. The right to nationality, which has seemingly been lost for these Haitians, is one that is guaranteed by the Inter-American Convention. Unfortunately, because of under-funding and the lack of an enforcement mechanism, the Inter-American System cannot adequately protect that right. Furthermore, international cases and complaints often move too slowly to evoke change, which has been a problem in some of the cases against the Dominican government. The various treaty bodies within the UN can issue reports and comments, but while they are persuasive, they are not binding.

Thus, there is a problem not only with the situation in the Dominican Republic, but also with the ability of the international community to effectively respond to these problems. In order to put an end to the racial and ethnic discrimination by governments throughout the world, international law, as well the organizations that have a duty to uphold it must be strengthened.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. 

Sources:

Veronica Aragón, Statelessness and the Right to Nationality, 19 Sw. J. Int’l Law 341 (2013).

Julia Harrington Reddy, Don’t be Fooled by the Dominican Republic’s Judicial Laundering of Racism, Open Society Justice Initiative (Mar. 11, 2014), available at http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/voices/dont-be-fooled-dominican-republicsjudicial-laundering-racism.

Natalia Lippmann Mazzaglia & Pedro F. Marcelino, Migratory Policy as an Exclusionary Tool: The Case of Haitians in the Dominican Republic, 3 Laws 163 (2014).

Mark Kurlansky, Dominican Republic Makes Racism the Law, Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines (Jan. 6, 2014), available at http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/dominican_republic_makes_racism_the_law_20140106.

Categories: Headline Tags: ,

Domestic Violence: An Issue Affecting All Communities

August 18th, 2014 No comments

By: Sarah Phillips

Blog Category: Domestic Violence Issues and the Law, Economics, & Race 

Domestic violence is an issue no matter what race or economic class an offender is placed in.   There is a myth that domestic violence only occurs in non-white communities and lower-class levels.  This is not the case.  In fact, domestic violence occurs all levels of people with no bias towards their race or economic level.   The difference between the different sets of communities is the help that they seek.  While affluent more middle to upper-class individuals have the means to find private help, lower class individuals are more likely to utilize the public agencies and police available to the public at large.   The availability of resources and subsequent handling of the circumstances surrounding the domestic violence allows for the public to come to wrong conclusion that domestic violence only affects those that are in lower-class communities and non-white.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.  

Source:

Boston University, BUPD Online, Domestic Violence Myths (Mar. 30, 2014 12:17PM), available at https://www.bu.edu/police/prevention/domestic_violence_myth.htm.

The Influence of Race and Religion on Voting Trends in the United States

August 11th, 2014 No comments

By: Olivia Italiano

Blog Category: Religion & Race

Over the past several decades, the United States has seen significant cultural and societal shift of increased racial and ethnic diversity, as well as a stark divide of moral and religious values.  In the political sphere, Democrat and Republican supporters are drastically more divided by religious beliefs, ideological orientations, and race than in the past.  Since the 1960s, the racial and ethnic population of the United States has changed drastically, resulting in more non-white voters, including African American, Asian American, and Hispanic voters.

Despite significant improvement in race relations over the last 50 years, American society continues to reflect racial inequality with respect to economic, educational, and employment opportunities. For example, minorities overwhelmingly subjected to inferior housing, higher unemployment rates, and dramatically lower incomes than white Americans.  Unfortunately, minority voters are far more likely to experience prejudice and discrimination on behalf of public and private bureaucracies.

Differing life experiences and disproportionate opportunities are demonstrated through contrasting views on political issues, party identification, and voting behavior.  Morality based issues including abortion and same-sex marriage are frequently rooted in deeply held religious beliefs.  However, religion is not the sole or even primary factor that racial and minority groups rely on when voting.  For example, in the 2012 Presidential Election, the majority of Latino registered voters favored Obama, and stated that they identify with or lean towards the Democratic Party, regardless of their religious beliefs.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. 

Sources:

Alan I. Abramowitz, How Race and Religion Have Polarized American Voters, (Jan. 20, 2014), available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/01/20/how-race-and-religion-have-polarized-american-voters.

Additional Factors: Gender, Age, Religion, Race, and Ethnicity, available at https://www.boundless.com/political-science/political-participation-and-voting/why-people-vote/additional-factors-gender-age-religion-race-and-ethnicity.

Latinos, Religion, and Campaign 2012, (Oct. 12, 2012), available at http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/18/latinos-religion-and-campaign-2012.

Categories: Headline Tags: , , ,

Racism In The International Criminal Court

July 28th, 2014 No comments

By: Jason Staloski

Blog Category: International Law & Race

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is located in the Netherlands and was established in 2002. The ICC was created in order to prosecute individuals charged with either genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, or crimes of aggression. The ICC currently has jurisdiction over 122 states where these crimes occur. Recently, the African Union (AU) has levied allegations against the ICC claiming that the institution is racially discriminatory in deciding which cases to prosecute.

To support their allegation of racism, the AU notes that every prosecution pursued by the ICC originated from a country located in Africa. At the most recent AU Summit, the member nations of the AU unanimously agreed that a sitting head of state in a member nation of the AU should be hauled in front of ICC in response to William Ruto, the sitting Deputy President of Kenya, being forced to attend his trial in front of the ICC regarding the pending crimes against humanity charges. While the AU has not threatened to withdraw from ICC jurisdiction, the possibility has been discussed by AU nations.

Hailemariam Desalegn, chairperson of the African Union and Ethiopian President, has stated that, “The process [of the ICC selecting who to prosecute] has degenerated into some kind of race hunting.[1]” The ICC has defended itself by stating that a majority of its member nations come from Africa, therefore, it is only logical that there would be more cases arising from AU nations. The ICC also defended itself by indicating that of the 8 current investigations regarding AU nations, four of the ICC was requested by that state itself to investigate.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. 

Sources: 

Richard Lough, African Union accuses ICC prosecutor of bias, Reuters (Apr. 5 2014), available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/30/ozatp-africa-icc-idAFJOE70T01R20110130.

Jacey Fortin, African Union Countries Rally Around Kenyan President, But Won’t Withdraw From The ICC, International Business Times (Apr. 5, 2014), available at http://www.ibtimes.com/african-union-countries-rally-around-kenyan-president-wont-withdraw-icc-1423572.

Al Mariam, The International Criminal Court on an African Safari?, Salon, (Apr. 5, 2014), available at http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/2013/09/29/the_international_criminal_court_on_an_african_safari.

Catholic Leaders Among Supporters of Immigration Reform

July 21st, 2014 No comments

By: Morgan Davis  

Blog Category: Race & Religion

Immigration law reform is at the forefront of many political, legal, racial, and social debates. Supporters and opponents of various immigration reform issues use major platforms to express which side of the debate they are on. A group of Catholic leaders from across the United States received national media attention after they visited Arizona’s border with Mexico on March 31 and April 1, 2014. They are among the supporters of immigrants in the fight for immigration reform. The Catholic leaders are members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on Migration, which supports undocumented immigrants gaining citizenship.  Their visit sparks the discussion, and bridges the gap between race and religion issues, as many of these immigration debates center on different racial and ethnic groups. In their visit to the border they stated their goal was to “highlight the human consequences of a broken immigration system and call upon the U.S. Congress to fix it.” Their concerns are prompted by the number of immigrants that die each year in an attempt to cross the borders into the United States. While their actions are “illegal,” many of the Catholic leaders note the majority of immigrants make this dangerous journey in hopes of finding a better live for their families and more job opportunities. The rising support for immigration reform has especially become more prominent with the increase of Hispanic Catholics over the last twenty years. As the political, social, racial, and religious debate heats up it will interesting to see if supporters of immigration reform will push Congress to take some action.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.  

Sources:

Robert Ortega, Catholic Leaders Push Immigration Overhaul at Border, The Arizona Republic, USAToday.com (April 1, 2014, 4:31 PM), available at http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/01/catholic-leaders-push-immigration-reform/7164359/.

Michael Lipka, Catholics, other Christians support immigration reform, but say faith plays small role, Pew Research Center (April 1, 2014), available at http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/01/catholics-other-christians-support-immigration-reform-but-say-faith-plays-small-role/.

Categories: Headline Tags: , ,

Australia’s Public Divided on Racial Discrimination Amendments

June 9th, 2014 No comments

By: Andrew Schneidman

Blog Category: International Law & Race

Australia announced major amendments to its Racial Discrimination Act that effectively reduce legal constraints on discriminatory speech.  Since 1975, and until now, the Act banned actions “reasonably likely . . . to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate others because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin.”  The new amendment removes from the Act the words “offend, insult, humiliate,” banning only actions “reasonably likely . . . [to] intimidate” or “vilify.”  Moreover, the Act grants a major exemption, legalizing actions of racial intimidation made for any genuine purpose in the public interest.  The change comes in the wake of the opinion handed down in Eatock v. Bolt, a 2011 case where a newspaper columnist was found to have breached the Act when he published two articles targeting fair-skinned Aborigines.

The amendment has triggered a public debate, with opponents arguing the amendment bolsters bigotry, and supporters claiming the amendment bolsters free speech.  Opponents contend that the amendments will open the floodgates to racial discrimination in all public discussions.  They fear the amendments’ exemptions are too broad, effectively endorsing acts of public discrimination in any public forum.  Supports reason that the amendments correctly shift racial discrimination claims from the perspective of the group claiming to be offended to “the perspective of a reasonable member of the Australian community.”  They maintain that the amendments simply bar frivolous lawsuits against innocent citizens.

Time will tell the true effect of Australia’s amendments to its Racial Discrimination Act, but one thing is clear: Australia’s courts have less say in matters of discriminatory speech.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. 

Sources:

Gay Alcorn, Locked in a war of words to define free speech, The Sydney Morning Herald (Mar. 29, 2014), available at http://www.smh.com.au/national/locked-in-a-war-of-words-to-define-free-speech-20140328-35oi1.html.

Gillian Triggs, Race law changes seriously undermine protections, The Australian (Mar. 28, 2014), available at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/race-law-changes-seriously-undermine-protections/story-e6frg6zo-1226866727210#.

Martin Gilmour, Discrimination law change strengthening free speech, The Examiner (Mar. 29, 2014), available at http://www.examiner.com.au/story/2183828/discrimination-law-change-strengthening-free-speech/.