KINGSTON, Jamaica –
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Caricom to review DR ties
Caricom will defer its consideration of an application for membership to the regional movement by the Dominican Republic (DR) and review its relationship with that country in Cariforum, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Organisation of American States (OAS).
Those were the major decisions announced by Caricom chair, Prime Minister Kamla Persad, at a news briefing following yesterday’s three-hour meeting of the Caricom Bureau at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, which discussed the September 23 ruling of the Constitutional Court in the DR. That ruling, which cannot be challenged provides for people born in the DR to Haitian parents not be given birth certificates retroactively.
Persad-Bissessar chaired the three-hour meeting which was attended by Haitian President Michel Martelly, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Caricom Secretary General Irwin LaRocque. “It cannot be business as usual,” she said. The DR has been under mounting regional and international pressure for the ruling, which Persad-Bissessar said made tens of thousands of people born in the DR “stateless and with no course of appeal.”
Persad-Bissessar said Caricom welcomed an intervention by Venezuela to bring the two countries together for face-to-face talks last weekend. But Martelly said the talks in Caracas did not appear to successful as the DR has subsequently misrepresented the agreement reached. He said the agreement in Venezuela provided for bi-lateral talks to be given top priority while the DR took steps to act in good faith and not implement the ruling.
He said the DR was insisting it be allowed to implement the measure. Martelly said a second round of talks between the two countries in Venezuela may not take place later this week as the DR was not acting in good faith. He said a few days ago, the DR repatriated newborn children who were between one and three days old. He said young girls and boys were also sent to Haiti and they could not even speak French or creole.
The Haitian leader expressed uncertainty about his country’s further participation in the Venezuela initiative. Persad-Bissessar said Caricom wanted DR to show “immediate, credible steps as part of an overall plan to resolve the nationality issue for people born there to Haitian parents. “At this time we will suspend consideration of the request by the Dominican Republic for membership of Caricom,” Persad-Bissessar added. Persad-Bissessar said Caricom condemned the DR’s Constitutional Court ruling.
She said the DR must take “the necessary political, legislative, judicial and administrative steps urgently to redress the grave humanitarian situation created by the ruling. She also called on other countries and organisations to add their voices to urge the DR “to right this terrible wrong.” She said the global and regional community should put pressure on the DR Government “to adopt urgent measures to ensure the jaundiced decision of the Constitutional Court does not stand.”
She said the full citizenship rights of people of Haitian descent, born in the DR were guaranteed. Commenting on a scheduled visit to the DR by officials of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Persad-Bissessar said Caricom supported that initiative and would “request advisory opinion from the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.” She said Caricom would also “consider the introduction of a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly condemning the ruling.”