Nicholson: Jamaica will not support Dom Rep Caricom bid if...

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS Senior staff reporter saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, June 22, 2015

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JAMAICA seems set to withhold any support of the Dominican Republic joining the Caribbean Community (Caricom) if that country fails to appropriately resolve attempts to denationalise hundreds of thousands of its own people who are of Haitian descent.


The Government's position was articulated by Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Senator AJ Nicholson during his Senate address Friday.


"For some time there has been discussion as to whether the DR should become a part of Caricom," he said. "[But], let Jamaica say at this stage, that if this Dominican Republic/Haiti matter is not resolved in the spirit of full adherence to human rights, and adherence to acknowledged international norms, Jamaica will not support the Dominican Republic."


Despite Caricom's strong condemnation of the denationalisation and deportation plans, the regional body has not been able to sway the Dominican Republic on the matter, as, according to international reports, these activities could begin as early as this week.


In a statement on Jamaica's participation in the recently concluded summit of the EU/Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Nicholson said that after lengthy discussions at a CARIFORUM-European Union high-level meeting, "both sides agreed on the importance of the principles of the status of citizenship and the presumption that persons shall not be rendered stateless".


He said too that the meeting also agreed that "consideration would be given to proposals for appropriate benchmarks and monitoring mechanisms" to be presented by CARIFORUM.


The Dominican Republic is the only non-Caricom member of CARIFORUM, which comprises African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.


For decades, Haitians in search of a better life have gone to the Dominican Republic, with which their country share the island of Hispaniola, many of them remaining and expanding, or starting families. But after a series of legislative changes to immigration policies, the Dominican Republic has revoked the citizenship of over 200,000 persons with Haitian roots, and in September 2013 denationalised this group of Dominicans.


Following international pressure, the Government established a mechanism to allow denationalised Dominicans to register as foreigners for two years, after which they could reapply for citizenship. Haitian migrants living there were also allowed to apply for legal residency.


With the mid-June deadline now passed, Dominican authorities seem set on expelling hundreds of thousands of those people who have not registered, irrespective of their nationality.


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