PORT-OF-SPAIN: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) issued a statement Tuesday condemning the recent Constitutional Court decision in the Dominican Republic that could strip hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their nationality.
Following a special session in Port-of-Spain of the CARICOM Heads of Government, chaired by Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, CARICOM issued a statement officially condemning the ruling and calling it “abhorrent and discriminatory”.
The regional body said it would “suspend consideration” of the Dominican Republic’s request for full membership in CARICOM.
Although Haiti is a full member state of CARICOM, the Dominican Republic is an observer. As recently as this summer, several countries, including Trinidad & Tobago, have called for the Dominican Republic to become a full member state.
In its statement, CARICOM said that it cannot allow its relationship with the Dominican Republic to continue as presently constituted.
“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.
“It is especially repugnant that the ruling ignores the 2005 judgment made by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights 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.”
CARICOM said the ruling had 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 with no linguistic or familial ties to that country.
“The Community also calls on regional and hemispheric countries and organizations to lend their voice to urge the Dominican Republic to right this terrible wrong.”
CARICOM called on the government to take the necessary steps to address the situation created by the ruling.
“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.”
The regional body also praised Venezuela for its role in working to resolve the problem. Venezuela recently hosted bilateral talks between Haiti and the Dominican Republic on the issue.