After Former President Martelly’s 2012 amendments to the Haitian Constitution, many are left wondering “who is Haitian?” A quick Google search will have you believe that every Haitian is Haitian. But, it’s not that simple.
Article 11 of the Constitution deals with Haitian nationality and states: “Any person born of a Haitian father or Haitian mother who are themselves native-born Haitians and have never renounced their nationality possesses Haitian nationality at the time of birth.” In other words, any person who has a father or mother who associates as Haitian either by birth or naturalization or permanent residency, is a Haitian citizen, if that parent did not renounce their Haitian nationality at the birth of that child. Therefore, a child can possess Haitian citizenship even if that child is born in a foreign country. However, over the years, Article 11 was narrowed significantly by Articles 12 through 15. Those articles, especially 13 and 15, made it possible for someone who was a Haitian citizen to lose their citizenship.
Article 13 forbad (1) naturalizing to a foreign country; (2) holding a political post for a foreign government; and (3) living in a foreign country for more than 3 years after being naturalized Haitian. While Article 15 prohibited double nationality. Once an Haitian citizen obtained a foreign citizenship, by choice or by birth, their Haitian citizenship became invalid.
Article 13, 15 and four other nationality-specific articles were abrogated in 2012. Those abrogations left Article 11 with no limitation. Therefore, today, any child born anywhere who has a Haitian citizen parent and that parent was Haitian citizen when the child was born, is Haitian citizen. But, it leaves some Haitians out. For example, a child born in a foreign country before 2012 to one Haitian citizen parent who renounced their citizenship before 2012, may not be a Haitian citizen.
For more information on the 2012 amendments, please visit Haiti Reference for the French version or Constitute Project for the English version.
Valerie is a second-year law student at Brooklyn Law School with a concentration in Business law and was raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.