PORT-AU-PRINCE: Haitian officials have expressed strong disagreement with a Dominican Republic court ruling that denies citizenship to children of Haitian migrants.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs deeply regrets that Haitians and their Dominican descendants who have contributed significantly to the current progress of the Dominican Republic for their work and sacrifice are now treated as foreigners in transit,” the Haitian foreign ministry said in a statement.
It said the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court ruling violates several international laws, agreements and covenants, including a 2005 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling.
The Haitian Foreign Ministry has urged the Dominican Republic to address in an “objective and fair manner” the role of Dominicans of Haitian descent in the country.
Last week, the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court ruled that the children of undocumented migrants, who have been in the Dominican Republic and registered as Dominicans as far back as 1929, cannot have Dominican nationality as their parents are considered to be “in transit”.
The decision has been strongly condemned by the United Nations, which called on the Dominican Republic to take all necessary measures to ensure that citizens of Haitian origin were not deprived of their right to nationality.
“We are extremely concerned that a ruling of the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court may deprive tens of thousands of people of nationality, virtually all of them of Haitian descent, and have a negative impact on their other rights,” said Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHR).
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has also expressed concern over the court ruling.
“It raises a serious question about the status of numerous people,” said Secretary General Irwin LaRocque, noting that the ruling of the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court is final. “I gather there are more than 20,000 Dominican Republic nationals of Haitian extract who would be affected.”
In a speech to the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) Executive Committee last week, the agency’s Director of International Protection, Volker Türk, called for stronger protection of refugees, stateless and internally displaced people in ensuring they enjoy their full human rights.
Türk said those individuals must be “able to enjoy the widest possible array of human rights and fundamental freedoms without discrimination”.
While noting that such a focus is “challenging”, Türk said that it must “permeate all our interactions with persons of concern”.
He said UNHCR’s focus on protection of individuals must be incorporated in every aspect of its work, from providing education to ensuring refugee camps are located away from threatening borders and designed so women do not face dangerous routes to collect water.
“To be effective, we need to understand their particular needs, not as homogenous groups, but as individuals with specific backgrounds, aspirations and hopes,” said Türk.
He also called for more efforts to end the problem of stateless people, which affects an estimated 10 million people.
“Would it not be a major achievement if in a decade from now statelessness was but a faint memory of a bygone era and our mandate rendered redundant?” asked Türk.