TO RESIDENCE AND MOVEMENT AND RIGHT TO NATIONALITY
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man
Every person has the right to fix his residence within the
territory of the State of which he is a national, to move about freely
within such territory, and not to leave it except by his own will.
Every person has the right to the nationality to which he is
entitled by law and to change it if he so wishes, for the nationality of
any other country that is willing to grant it to him.1
During its visit, the Special Commission received a series of
cables and other communications from Haitian citizens reporting that
despite President Duvalier’s statements to the effect that all
Haitians living abroad could return to Haiti and live in the country
without any problems, they had been refused permission to return to
Haiti to testify before the Commission.
One of these cables, dated August 18, 1978, raises the question
in the following terms:
Wish to inform you that the Haitian Consul in Puerto Rico, Pierre
Chavenet, on instructions from Minister of Foreign Affairs, is using
delaying tactics in order not to deliver visas and passports to Haitians
wishing to testify before the Inter-American Commission. On government
orders, airlines flying to Haiti refuse Haitian passengers wishing to
return to their country who do not have a passport and entry visa issued
within the previous 30 days by a Haitian consul. Refusal by Haitian
government to deliver passports and visas for entry to their own country
to Haitian citizens living abroad is a flagrant violation of human
The government of Haiti states that “the action of the Consul
was taken in contravention of government policies, and the individual
concerned was suspended and relieved of his responsibilities because of
this incident. The only Haitians refused re-entry as a result of
government policy have been those who are known subversives and whose
stated intentions are to overthrow by force the duly constituted
government of Haiti. As to these individuals, the government can see no
justification for their return, and does not feel that its actions
constitute a breach of any of the obligations to which it is bound.”
Another cable from ten Haitians who wanted to re-enter their
country to talk to the Commission quoted similar cases in which the
Consuls-General of Haiti in New York and Montreal had refused them
visas. They too protested that “any American, Frenchman or Canadian
can enter Haiti without a visa, while a Haitian citizen who was born in
the country, cannot do so.”
The question was raised with high-level government authorities,
who admitted to the Commission that certain individuals who were Haitian
citizens by birth had not received permission to re-enter their country
for security reasons.
Contrary to the clauses on nationality in the American
Declaration, the Legislature of Haiti, in a Decree dated August 23,
1963, stripped 54 individuals accused of treasonable activities of their
citizenship. This measure was taken the day after the pertinent
Constitutional guarantees were suspended. Moreover, the individuals in
question were stripped of their retirement, and their property was
confiscated and passed to the State.
Subsequently, the Presidential Decree of February 27, 1974
defined the conditions under which Haitian citizenship could be acquired
and lost. The Commission is particularly interested in the two
paragraphs of Article 17 that prescribe loss of citizenship “(5) for
all services rendered to the enemies of the Republic or for transactions
conducted with them” and “(6) for final sentencing, after a full
hearing, to life imprisonment for infamous crimes.”
We believe it would be very useful to repeat what the Commission
said on another occasion on the subject of loss of citizenship:2
Loss of citizenship is sometimes a tactic in a political
struggle, but it always has the effect of leaving a citizen without a
land and without a roof of his own, and of forcing him to take refuge
abroad. On another plane, it has an inevitable impact on foreign
jurisdictions and no State may arrogate to itself the power of taking
measures of this type. If the practice of stripping citizens of their
nationality were to become generalized, for whatever reason and for
whatever purposes, the world would have a new machinery for producing
stateless persons. And this at the time when there has been a world-wide
crusade to relieve the suffering of thousands of stateless persons and
refugees forced into exile by political violence or war and by the other
tragedies that have afflicted a large part of humanity in recent years,
obliged to seek shelter in a foreign home. For these reasons, and for
many other considerations that are not pertinent here, the Commission
feels that this anachronistic, uncivilized punishment, which is legally
unjustifiable in any part of the world, is a thousand times more odious
and reprehensible in our countries of the Americas, and should therefore
be permanently forbidden in the practice of all governments.
Article 22. Freedom of Movement and Residence
Every person lawfully in the territory of a State Party has
the right to move about in it, and to reside in it subject to the
provisions of the law.
Every person has the right lo leave any country freely,
including his own.
The exercise of the foregoing rights may be restricted only
pursuant to a law to the extent necessary in a democratic society to
prevent crime or to protect national security, public safety, public
order, public morals, public health, or the rights or freedoms of
The exercise of the rights recognized in paragraph 1 may also
be restricted by law in designated zones for reasons of public
No one can be expelled from the territory of the state of
which he is a national or be deprived of the right to enter it.
An alien lawfully in the territory of a State Party to this
Convention may be expelled from it only pursuant to a decision
reached in accordance with law.
Every person has the right to seek and be granted asylum in a
foreign territory, in accordance with the legislation of the state
and international conventions, in the event he is being pursued for
political offenses or related common crimes.
In no case may an alien be deported or returned to a country,
regardless of whether or not it is his country of origin, if in that
country his right to life or personal freedom is in danger of being
violated because of his race, nationality, religion, social status,
or political opinions.
The collective expulsion of aliens is prohibited.
Article 20. Right to Nationality
Every person has the right to a nationality.
Every person has the right to the nationality of the state in
whose territory he was born if he does not have the right to any
No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality or of
the right to change it.