Caricom Bureau needs no long meeting on the DR issue

Caricom Bureau needs no long meeting on the DR issue

Friday, November 15, 2013

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WE'LL give Caricom the benefit of the doubt and reserve some optimism for a tangible outcome to next week's special meeting on the situation in the Dominican Republic.

The Caricom chair, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, has finally emerged from her slumber on this most egregious issue and has called a meeting of the Caricom Bureau for Tuesday to consider, we are told, "effective initiatives" against the Constitutional Court ruling that will strip citizenship from thousands of people of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic.

The ruling effectively regards those persons who have entered the Dominican Republic since 1929, and their children born there, as "in transit" and, therefore, requires them to obtain nationality.

As we have pointed out in this space before, this ruling puts the Dominican Republic in violation of its obligations under international human rights agreements.

It has also triggered xenophobia in the Dominican Republic, as demonstrated by last week's street protest in that country which saw protesters carrying banners rejecting the presence of Haitians in that country and going as far as suggesting the erection of a wall to ensure the division of the island that is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, former Jamaica Prime Minister PJ Patterson and Jamaica's current Foreign Minister AJ Nicholson have, most appropriately, been very strident in their condemnation of the court ruling.

Prime Minister Gonsalves has gone even further to recommend that the Dominican Republic be suspended from Cariforum and the PetroCaribe arrangement initiated by Venezuela until President Danilo Medina's Government gets the court to alter the ruling that Mr Patterson has correctly labelled "discriminatory legislation".

In our view, next Tuesday's Caricom Bureau meeting need not be long, because Prime Minister Gonsalves has already made two proposals that we believe will be most effective once they are implemented.

All the Caricom Bureau needs to do is endorse those positions and press for their enforcement.

Well done, Senator Montague

A minor glitch in the voting process aside, everyone will agree that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leadership election on Sunday was conducted in an atmosphere that encouraged respect for the democratic process.

That, we hold, speaks to effective management by the party secretariat, especially JLP Chairman Senator Robert Montague, who stayed above the fray as is required of individuals in those positions.

We note that during the heated campaign leading up to the vote, Senator Montague remained neutral, even as both candidates sought to woo delegates in his constituency.

He ought to be commended for his professional conduct. Hopefully, in the future, others will follow his example.

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