CARICOM to Suspend Consideration of Dominican Republic’s Bid For Membership

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Above: Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Using its strongest language to date, the Caribbean Community issued a stern statement Tuesday condemning the recent Constitutional Court decision in the Dominican Republic that could strip hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their nationality.

Following a special session in Port of Spain of the CARICOM Heads of Government chaired by Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the regional body issued a statement officially condemning the ruling and calling it “abhorrent and discriminatory.”

Most crucially, the regional body said it would “suspend consideration” of the Dominican Republic’s request for full membership in CARICOM.

While neighbouring Haiti is a full member state of CARICOM, the Dominican Republic is only an observer, although several countries, including Trinidad, have called for the country to become a full member state, as recently as this summer.

CARICOM said that it “cannot allow its relationship with the Dominican Republic to continue as normal.”

“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,” CARICOM said.

“It is especially repugnant that the ruling ignores the 2005 judgment made by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights that the Dominican Republic adapt its immigration laws and practices in accordance with the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights,” CARICOM said. “The ruling also violates the Dominican Republic’s international human rights obligations.”

CARICOM said the ruling had 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 with no linguistic or familial ties to that country.”

“The Community also calls on regional and hemispheric countries and organisations to lend their voice to urge the Dominican Republic to right this terrible wrong, it said.

CARICOM called on the government to take the necessary steps to “redress the grave humanitarian situation created by the ruling.”

The regional body also praised Venezuela for its role in working to resolve the problem; the country recently hosted bilateral talks between Haiti and the Dominican Republic on the issue.

“CARICOM is prepared to engage the Dominican Republic but the government of the Dominican Republic must show good faith by immediate credible steps as part of an overall plan to resolve the nationality and attendant issues in the shortest possible time,” it said.

 

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