News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Oct. 11, 2013: Just days after a September 25th ruling by the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic to strip citizenship from children of undocumented Haitian migrants born in that country, a Haitian newspaper publisher in the U.S has expressed outrage.
“It’s really unfortunate that Dominican officials have decided to take that path. This is in blatant violations of international laws and human decency,” Garry Pierre-Pierre, publisher of the Haitian Times Newspaper, told News Americas Thursday.
The court approved a withdrawal of citizenship to descendants of foreigners born in the Dominican Republic after 1929, on the basis that their parents were considered “in transit.” The ruling is final and gives the DR’s electoral commission one year to produce a list of people to be excluded from citizenship.
A U.N.-backed study released this year estimated that there are nearly 210,000 Dominican-born people of Haitian descent and roughly another 34,000 born to parents of another nationality.
“Remember these people are Dominicans who have never been to Haiti and not migrants,” said Pierre-Pierre, who added that many in the “Dominican Diaspora are also outraged at the court’s decision and are working with the Haitian Diaspora to put pressure on the Dominican government.”
Under pressure, Roberto Rosario, president of the DR’s electoral commission has insisted that the government is not denying anyone the right to a nationality, saying people would be able “to legalize themselves through the national legalization plan.”
However, that plan has not yet been created, despite a 2004 immigration law that called for it, and it was not clear who would be covered.
Jean Philippe Thomas Chairman of the Board of Directors of Groupe d’Appui aux Rapatriés et aux Réfugiés (GARR) and several other groups including Sant Pon Ayiti ; Commission Episcopale Nationale Justice et Paix ; Plateforme Haïtienne des Organismes de Droits Humains (POHDH) ; Défense des Opprimés (DOP) ; Mouvement des Femmes Haïtienne pour l’Education et le Développement (MOUFHED) ; Bureau à Port-au-Prince du Service Jésuite aux Réfugiés et aux Migrants ; Sèvis Ekimenik pou Devlopman ak Edikasyon Popilè (SEDEP) ; Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH) ; Observatoire Haïtien de la Justice, ci-devant HSI (OHJ) ; Plateforme Haïtienne pour un Développement Alternatif (PAPDA) ; Fòs Refleksyon ak Aksyon sou Koze Kay (FRAKKA), have written to the Dominican Republic’s Ambassador to Haiti, Ruben Silie Valdez, blasting the ruling as they helda sit-in at the premises of the Dominican Embassy in Port-au-Prince.
In the letter, the group said is sad and outraged at the decision of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic to deprive thousands of people of Dominican nationality, under the pretext that when they are born, their parents or grandparents were illegal immigrants in the Dominican Republic.
“Mr. Ambassador, we have noted for some time that a current in the Dominican Republic openly deploy a racist statement, anti-Haitian by promoting punitive actions against the population of Haitian immigrants and their descendants and organizing public events xenophobic tolerated by your government. In our opinion, this decision of the Constitutional Court constitutes a kind of blank check given to this current to legitimize many abuses and injustices,” the letter added. “This is a racist, discriminatory decision which violates many principles of human rights to which the Dominican Republic joined, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 15 or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 24.”
DR President, Danilo Medina, this week said his government cannot meddle in the Constitutional Court ruling and Central Electoral Board resolutions but promised to contact those branches of government to find a satisfactory solution to the problem.
The Haitian Foreign Ministry has urged the Dominican Republic to address in an “objective and fair manner” the role of Dominicans of Haitian descent in the country while the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Irwin La Rocque has said anything that affects any member state of the regional grouping would be of concern to the region.
And in a major speech on Thursday to the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) Executive Committee, the agency’s Director of International Protection, Volker Türk called for stronger protection of refugees, stateless and internally displaced people (IDPs) in ensuring they enjoy their full human rights.
But Pierre Pierre says the international community has dome precious little on this situation, that goes back decades.
“They are more than happy to let it happen as long as there are no bloodshed,” he said. “If black and brown people are at each other’s throats, that’s not their primary concerns. But if this had been a European country doing that to an African country, then there would have been outrage.”