Persons of Haitian descent rendered stateless in Dominican Republic – PM
October 15, 2013

Persons of Haitian descent rendered stateless in Dominican Republic – PM

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has expressed the distress of the Government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines about a court decision in the Dominican Republic that denies citizenship to an estimated 250,000 persons of Haitian descent, born there.{{more}}

In a two-page letter dated October 11, 2013 to the President of the Dominican Republic Danilo Medina, Gonsalves said the court decision in effect renders stateless huge numbers of persons of Haitian descent.

“Surely, this ruling by the Court is unacceptable in any civilized community. It is an affront to all established international norms and elemental humanity, and threatens to make the Dominican Republic a pariah regionally and globally. It is subversive of your country’s international human rights obligations, as enshrined in several international and hemispheric conventions/treaties to which it is a state party.”

According to the Reuters news agency, the court ruling comes under a constitutional clause which declares all others to be either in the country illegally or in transit.

However, while the judgment is final, human rights groups plan to challenge it before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, where it could, in theory, still be overruled, Reuters news agency further reported.

“As you are no doubt aware, the decision of the Court is being widely interpreted internationally as being grounded in a jaundiced anti-Haitian or even racist mind set, given the fact that most of the persons deprived of their ‘citizenship by birth’ are black. It is thus incumbent on the government and the people of the Dominican Republic to stand askance from the Court’s decision, and set about promptly and practically to make the requisite corrective in accordance with your international obligations,” Gonsalves further stated in the two-page letter.

According to Gonsalves, the highest office in the land is that of citizenship.

He said “it is an inward grace from which springs bonds of a national community in the landscape and seascape of the country of one’s birth.

“Reason and conscience dictate that you, my esteem brother must act swiftly to right the historic wrong committed against your compatriots of Haitian descent.

“I expect no less from you! I feel sure that you would not disappoint,” this country’s Prime Minister told Medina.

He further said that CARICOM’s Secretary-General, Irwin LaRocque, has spoken “wisely and publicly” against the court decision and other outstanding citizens of CARICOM member-states, such as Jamaica’s former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson have also expressed similar sentiments.

“Some in your country may well consider all this to be an unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of the Dominican Republic.

“Plainly it’s not!” he stated.

“The fig-leaf of sovereignty cannot be invoked when time-honoured and universal principles of citizenship and human decency are trampled upon. These precepts go beyond the outermost boundaries of a country’s territorial limits; they are existential to humanity. Moreover, your country has its international obligations.

“I regret that the circumstances have compelled me to write robustly on this matter. I assure you that my language is restrained and does not fully express my personal outrage,” Dr Gonsalves said in conclusion.