CARICOM threatens Dominican Republic with trade sanctions
– suspends membership application
The region has ceased considering the Dominican Republic’s application for membership in light of a controversial court ruling of that country which retroactively strips tens of thousands of Dominicans, mostly of Haitian descent, of citizenship rendering them stateless and with no recourse to appeal.
During a special meeting of the Bureau of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, yesterday, a harsh statement threatened possible trade sanctions against the country.
The Dominican Republic is an island of the Greater Antilles that is also shared by Haiti. Both by area and population, the Dominican Republic is the second largest Caribbean nation with 48,445 square kilometres, and an estimated 10 million persons.
Several weeks ago, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that the children of undocumented migrants who have been in the Dominican Republic, and registered as Dominicanos as far back as 1929, cannot have Dominicanos nationality as their parents are considered to be “in transit.”
CARICOM had joined growing calls for the country to reverse the recent ruling of its Constitutional Court on the issue of nationality. Haitians and Dominicanos have been crossing borders, mixing and marrying.
Condemning the ruling, CARICOM said that it is “abhorrent and discriminatory”.
“It is especially repugnant that the ruling ignores the 2005 judgment made by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) 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 yesterday.
“Furthermore, the ruling has 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 and with no linguistic or familial ties to that country.”
CARICOM called on the Government of the Dominican Republic to take the necessary political, legislative, judicial and administrative steps urgently to redress the grave humanitarian situation created by the ruling. It also called for international pressure to be brought to bear.
It welcomed the intervention by Venezuela and insisted that the grave humanitarian implications of the court ruling cannot see business as usual.
“In that regard, the Community, at this time, will suspend consideration of the request by the Dominican Republic for membership of the Caribbean Community. 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.”
The regional body, comprising of 15 nations and its dependents, said the door is not closed to and it still remains prepared to engage the Dominican Republic, but the government must show good faith by taking immediate, credible steps as part of an overall plan to resolve the nationality and attendant issues in the shortest possible time.