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Caricom suspends Dom.Rep’s membership application

The 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Tuesday suspended the Dominican Republic’s (DR) membership of the regional grouping over that Spanish-speaking country’s refusal to grant nationality status to citizens born to illegal Haitian migrants.

“The Community, at this time, will suspend consideration of the request by the Dominican Republic for membership of the Caribbean Community,” said Caricom in a statement.

The DR’s High Court ruling on  September 23 is expected to affect at least 210,000 Dominican-born persons of Haitian descent. That decision modifies retroactively legislation which had bestowed citizenship on persons born in the DR during the period 1929 to 2010. Now, the ruling considers migrants entering the DR since 1929 and their children born in the country as “in transit” and requires them to obtain nationality. Caricom feared that a large number of persons who are part of the very fabric of the DR society would be stripped of Dominican citizenship.

The issue was discussed by the Bureau of CARICOM leaders in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday 26th November, 2013. Participating in the meeting were Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Kamla Persad Bissessar; Haitian President Michel Martelly, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque

CARICOM also announced that it would review its relationship with the DR in other fora including that of of the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group, Community of Latin American & Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Organisation of American States (OAS).

“It cannot be business as usual,” said CARICOM which at the same time pledged to hold out the olive branch to the DR if it is signals that it would take remedial action.

“CARICOM is prepared to engage the Dominican Republic but the government of the Dominican Republic must show good faith by immediate credible steps as part of an overall plan to resolve the nationality and attendant issues in the shortest possible time,” said the organisation

Following is the full text of CARICOM’s statement on the ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Dominica Republic on Nationality .

The Community welcomes the intervention by Venezuela to assist in resolving the issue but given the grave humanitarian implications of the court ruling the Community cannot allow its relationship with the Dominican Republic to continue as normal. In that regard, the Community, at this time, will suspend consideration of the request by the Dominican Republic for membership of the Caribbean Community. Furthermore, the Community will review its relationship with the Dominican Republic in other fora including that of CARIFORUM, CELAC and the OAS. It cannot be business as usual.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) condemns the abhorrent and discriminatory ruling of September 23, 2013, of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic on nationality which retroactively strips tens of thousands of Dominicans, mostly of Haitian descent, of citizenship rendering them stateless and with no recourse to appeal
   
It is especially repugnant that the ruling ignores the 2005 judgement made by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) that the Dominican Republic adapt its immigration laws and practices in accordance with the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights. The ruling also violates the Dominican Republic’s international human rights obligations. Furthermore, the ruling has created an environment where, with the abrogation of rights that flow from citizenship, arbitrariness can flourish as illustrated by recent media reports of the forced deportation to Haiti of persons claiming to be Dominican and with no linguistic or familial ties to that country.

The Caribbean Community reiterates its call to the Government of the Dominican Republic to take the necessary political, legislative, judicial and administrative steps urgently to redress the grave humanitarian situation created by the ruling. The Community also calls on regional and hemispheric countries and organisations to lend their voice to urge the Dominican Republic to right this terrible wrong.

The Community welcomes the intervention by Venezuela to assist in resolving the issue but given the grave humanitarian implications of the court ruling the Community cannot allow its relationship with the Dominican Republic to continue as normal. In that regard, the Community, at this time, will suspend consideration of the request by the Dominican Republic for membership of the Caribbean Community. Furthermore, the Community will review its relationship with the Dominican Republic in other fora including that of CARIFORUM, CELAC and the OAS. It cannot be business as usual.

CARICOM supports the visit of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights and will request an advisory opinion from the Inter American Court of Human Rights. The Community will also consider the introduction of a Resolution at the United Nations General Assembly condemning the ruling.

 Moreover we call on the global and regional community to pressure the government of the Dominican Republic to adopt urgent measures to ensure that the jaundiced decision of the Constitutional Court does not stand and that the full citizenship rights of persons of Haitian descent, born in the Dominican Republic are guaranteed. The Caribbean Community accords this matter the highest priority.

CARICOM is prepared to engage the Dominican Republic but the government of the Dominican Republic must show good faith by immediate credible steps as part of an overall plan to resolve the nationality and attendant issues in the shortest possible time.