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Dom Rep committed to protecting rights of individuals

Sunday, February 02, 2014    

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A response to the Jamaica Observer editorial published on January 27, 2014.

IT is important to clarify the Dominican Republic's policy on immigration, and to separate fact from fiction on this important and complex issue.

As chair of the Organisation of American States (OAS), my Government is committed to guaranteeing fundamental rights and public services, including education and health care, to all persons within the Dominican Republic, regardless of their legal status.

The Dominican Republic currently provides access to public schools for approximately 54,000 immigrant children without the need to provide any sort of documentation regardless of their legal status. We also invest 18 per cent of our nation's health care budget to servicing the immigrant population.

The Dominican Republic's support for its immigrant community is further underscored by the Government's new immigration policy. The Dominican Republic is taking careful steps — in consultation with the international community and its ally, Haiti — to implement a policy for registering both national and immigrant citizens.

Despite these efforts, critics are quick to suggest that the Dominican Republic's executive branch could "convince" the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the country, to overturn its ruling. As is the case with any nation that respects the democratic principles of separation of powers and the rule of law, this course of action isn't plausible.

Furthermore, the very suggestion goes against the OAS mission of promoting democracy and institutionalisation.

Therefore, in response to the Court's ruling, the Government is implementing a process that protects fundamental rights while documenting and guaranteeing a legal status to each and every person living on Dominican soil. In doing so, we will also enhance our ability to combat human trafficking.

The Dominican Republic appreciates the support of the international community, as well as its key ally Haiti, as we embark on this complex process.

In fact, as part of an ongoing dialogue, officials from the Dominican Republic and Haiti will meet again on February 3rd to discuss a mutually beneficial immigration policy. This collaborative approach is guided by the belief that a modern and transparent immigration policy will benefit the island of Hispaniola and the region, and could serve as a road map for other countries that are facing similar issues.

Following President Danilo Medina's statement during the CELAC Summit last week, in the sense that he would not allow the violation of any person's rights, I would like to reassure you that I would not allow it either.

— Pedro Vergés is the Dominican Republic's ambassador to the OAS

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