Above: Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is urging the Dominican Republic to “immediately restore nationality” to those impacted by the country’s controversial citizenship judgment.
In a letter to Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina, Persad-Bissessar said efforts thus far to address the situation had beee in adequate.
The court ruling, made in September by the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court, applied retroactively to 1929 and strips what are estimated at around 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship.
The Dominican Republic has unveiled a plan that would give those affected 18 months to apply for naturalization.
“This, to my government, is unacceptable. Additionally, any commitment to naturalize those persons is at variance with established norms and principles whereby naturalization frameworks constitute a means for foreign nationals to acquire citizenship,” the Trinidad Prime Minister wrote. “This is not applicable in this instance. Accordingly, I call on you to take steps to restore immediately Dominican nationality to those who have been denationalized.”
Persad-Bissessar is the current Chair of CARICOM, which announced that it would suspend consideration of the Dominican Republic’s membership bid to the regional body in response to the court ruling.
While she said she welcomed the announcement of a pair of bilateral commissions between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, “issue of the denationalization of those who previously held Dominican nationality from 1929 to 2010 must be addressed immediately,” she said.
“I therefore wish to reiterate my call to exercise bold and decisive leadership by taking immediate steps to restore Dominican nationality to those who have been denationalized,” she said. “For Trinidad and Tobago, sovereignty should not be invoked as a defence for human rights violations.”