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US expresses concern about Dom Rep Constitutional Court ruling

Monday, December 23, 2013    

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WASHINGTON, DC (CMC) -- As pressure intensifies on the Dominican Republic to rescind a Constitutional Court ruling that essentially strips Dominicans of Haitian descent of citizenship, the United States has for the first time expressed "deep concern" about the court's decision.

"We've urged the (Dominican Republic) Government to continue close consultation with international partners and civil society to identify and expeditiously address, in a humane way, concerns regarding the planned scope and reach to affected persons," said Marie Harf, the US Department of State's deputy spokeswoman.

The Dominican Republic Constitutional Court's September 23 ruling retroactively stripped citizenship from anyone born in the country to undocumented parents dating back to 1929.

"We'll continue to dialogue, but we have expressed our concerns over it," said Harf, acknowledging that the majority of those affected are of Haitian descent.

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.

According to Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro, last week, Haiti and the Dominican Republic agreed to establish a joint commission to discuss the migration problem caused by Constitutional Court ruling.

After meeting on the sidelines of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) and of PetorCaribe, Haitian President Michel Martelly and Medina agreed to the "creation of a high-level committee with representatives of both sides to address various issues on the bilateral agenda".

The joint commission will comprise five representatives each from the two countries, and Venezuela, the United Nations, the European Union and the Caribbean Community have been invited as observers.

A United Nations-supported study, released this year, estimated that there were about 210,000 Dominican-born people of Haitian descent and another 34,000 born to parents of other nationalities.

However, the Government of the Dominican Republic estimates that around 500,000 people born in Haiti live in the Dominican Republic.

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