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Sunday, April 20, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Kamla calls on DR president: Do more to regularise ‘stateless’ citizens
Chairman of Caricom and Prime Minister of T&T Kamla Persad-Bissessar has told the president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, his Government had not done enough to resolve the controversial denationalising of citizens born to Haitian parents. A September 23 ruling by the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court makes all children born in that country to Haitian parents, stateless, as no birth certificates will be issued to them. The ruling was condemned by a Caricom Bureau meeting in Port-of-Spain on November 25.
On that same day, Medina wrote to Persad-Bissessar, advising her of proposed initiatives to implement the judgment. Persad-Bissessar, in a letter dated December 19 to Medina, said she was aware that he signed “Decree 327-13, which establishes the terms and conditions for the legalisation of ‘foreigners’ with irregular status in the Dominican Republic.”
Persad-Bissessar said those efforts “fall short of that which is required to address the troubling situation occasioned upon those who have been adversely affected by the judgment.” The Prime Minister said she was deeply concerned about “the circumstances confronting those persons who have been deprived of their nationality, who are estimated to number in excess of 200,000.”
She added: “The violation of their right to legal personhood has left many in a state of vulnerability with serious consequences for the full exercise of their human rights. It also contravenes the international human rights obligations freely entered into by the Dominican State.”
The judgment was retroactive to 1929. Persad-Bissessar said it means that people who previously held Dominican nationality and obtained national identification documents and exercised their rights in various facets of life in the Dominican Republic such as voting in elections, have been denationalised.
She said that was “unacceptable (and) any commitment to naturalise those persons is at variance with established norms and principles whereby naturalisation frameworks constitute a means for foreign nationals to acquire citizenship.” Persad-Bissessar said, however, this was not applicable in the current situation. She again called on Medina “to take steps to immediately restore Dominican nationality to those who have been denationalised.”
Persad-Bissessar said she was “especially disheartened at the disproportionate impact of judgment TC 168-13 on persons of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic.” She advised that the judgment was tarnishing the global image of the Dominican Republic. The PM also commented on reports that the Dominican Republic and Haiti will designate two commissions to deal with immigration and trade issues as well as environment and poverty.
Persad-Bissessar said she was happy about that development but insisted the issue of the denationalisation of those who previously held Dominican nationality from 1929 to 2010, must be addressed immediately. She reiterated her call “to exercise bold and decisive leadership by taking immediate steps to restore Dominican nationality to those who have been denationalised.”
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