GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – The Caribbean Community (Caricom) grouping Tuesday called on the Dominican Republic to halt its policy of deporting people of Haitian descent and “avoid creating a humanitarian crisis in [the] region”.
The Dominican Republic gave a deadline of June 17 for people of Haitian descent to apply for legal residency. Hundreds of people, mostly low-wage workers from neighbouring Haiti, waited in line for hours to submit residency applications under a registration initiative that began last June.
The Dominican Republic has said migrants who can prove they entered the country before October 2011 can qualify for legal residency. Otherwise they could face deportation.
But in a statement, the 15-member grouping said that it is reiterating the human rights of those people who had been made stateless by a ruling of the Dominican Constitutional Court of 2013, which had been made retroactive to 1929, revoking their nationality.
“The very real possibility that they could be expelled to Haiti, a country of which they are not citizens and with which many have neither family nor language links, was an additional cause for concern.”
CARICOM said that it had initiated discussions on the issue during the recent European Union-CARIFORUM High-Level Meeting in Brussels earlier this month.
It said CARIFORUM consisting of Caricom and the Dominican Republic met with officials from EU and that the “meeting was informed of the plight of the Dominicans of Haitian descent rendered stateless, both those who were documented and those who were not.
“As highlighted in the Joint Communique of the High-Level Meeting, there was commitment to adhere to a number of principles including “protection of the status of citizenship and the presumption that persons shall not be rendered stateless.
“In this regard, it was agreed that “proposals to set up appropriate benchmarks and monitoring mechanisms, to be presented by CARIFORUM, will be considered”. Efforts to this end are currently underway.”
CARICOM said that it was calling on the Dominican Republic authorities to adhere to the principles and confirm the citizenship status of Dominicans of Haitian descent.
“The Community also calls on the Dominican Republic not to engage in the expulsion of Dominicans of Haitian descent and avoid creating a humanitarian crisis in our region,” the statement added.