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Caricom chairman reiterates position on Dom Rep court ruling

Saturday, December 21, 2013    

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Caribbean Community (Caricom) chairman, Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, says while she welcomed reports that Haiti and the Dominican Republic have taken steps to deal with immigration and trade issues, she wants Santo Domingo to immediately address the Constitutional Court ruling that renders thousands of Haitians stateless.

In a letter sent to President Danilo Medina on Thursday, Persad Bissessar, who is also the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, said that the court ruling was unacceptable to her Government.

"Additionally, any commitment to naturalise those persons is at variance with established norms and principles whereby naturalisation frameworks constitute a means for foreign nationals to acquire citizenship. This is not applicable in this instance. Accordingly, I call on you to take steps to restore immediately Dominican nationality to those who have been denationalized," she wrote.

On September 23, the Constitutional Court in Santo Domingo ruled in favour of stripping citizenship from children of Haitian migrants. The decision applies to those born after 1929 — a category that overwhelmingly includes descendants of Haitians brought in to work on farms.

But in defending the ruling, Dominican Republic officials said it ends uncertainty for children of Haitian immigrants, allowing them to apply for residency and eventually for citizenship.

Earlier this week, Haiti and the Dominican Republic agreed to establish a joint commission to discuss the migration problem caused by Constitutional Court ruling, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said.

Haitian President Michel Martelly and Medina met on Tuesday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) and of PetorCaribe, and Maduro later said he was announcing the "creation of a high-level committee with representatives of both sides to address various issues on the bilateral agenda".

He said the joint commission would comprise five representatives each from the two countries and that Venezuela, the United Nations, the European Union and Caricom have been invited as observers.

In her December 19 letter to Medina, the Caricom chairman said she had "seen reports that the Dominican Republic and Haiti will designate two commissions to deal with immigration and trade issues as well as environment and poverty.

"I welcome this development and wish to congratulate you on taking this step. Nevertheless, the issue of the denationalisation of those who previously held Dominican nationality from 1929 to 2010 must be addressed immediately.

"I therefore wish to reiterate my call to exercise bold and decisive leadership by taking immediate steps to restore Dominican nationality to those who have been denationalised. For Trinidad and Tobago, sovereignty should not be invoked as a defence for human rights violations," she wrote.

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