Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute Students Honored

September 29, 2014 —

Students from the Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute (HRI) have been recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Tilburg University for HRI’s April 2014 report, “Left Behind: How Statelessness in the Dominican Republic Limits Children’s Access to Education.” They were honored with a special certificate of appreciation for outstanding student research.  

“We are very proud of the important work conducted by our students,” said Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor. “And we are grateful for this wonderful recognition for the superb report our students prepared.” 

In 2013, UNHCR and Tilburg University’s Statelessness Program established a research award for excellence in the field of statelessness. It rewards individual student papers at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. Because the Georgetown Law students completed their research as a team, their work received a special certificate of appreciation. 

HRI’s report, “Left Behind: How Statelessness in the Dominican Republic Limits Children’s Access to Education,” was written by a group of eight Law Center students, all enrolled in either Georgetown Law’s J.D. or LL.M. program. It was conducted in the context of HRI’s fact-finding project and practicum course and included travel to the Dominican Republic, where researchers interviewed 95 individuals, including 72 directly affected by statelessness.

The report shows that many children born in the Dominican Republic but descended from foreigners, particularly Haitians, are denied an education. For generations, such children were recognized as citizens, but within the last decade, the Dominican government has refused to issue many of them birth certificates, identity cards and other essential documentation, rendering them stateless. The report concludes that the Dominican Republican is failing to comply with its domestic and international human rights obligations, including the human right to education. 

The award committee described the report as a “sophisticated paper which gives an excellent overview of the current problems in the Dominican Republic with extensive analysis and empirical data and excellent policy recommendations.” The committee’s members consider this project to be “a significant contribution to statelessness research thanks to its collection of new primary data and fresh analysis of the situation in the Dominican Republic.”

Three of the students, B. Shaw Drake, Kimberly Fetsick and Tabitha King, traveled to The Hague to present their research at the first-ever Global Forum on Statelessness on September 15. They accepted the award on behalf of the group, which includes Khaled Alrabe, Jamie Armstrong, Elizabeth Gibson, Young-Min Kwon and Franziska Veh. 

More information about the report is available here.

HRI is the focal point of human rights at Georgetown Law and helps ensure the Law Center’s place as a center of excellence in human rights teaching and training and in producing policy-relevant and influential human rights ideas and research. For nearly a decade, HRI’s Fact-Finding Project has engaged in systematic human rights fact-finding investigations and prepared research reports analyzing human rights violations and proposing law and policy reforms based on documentation – including interview testimony – of the lived experience of persons whose human rights have been violated.  

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