Above: Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina
By the Caribbean Journal staff
In a speech to the CELAC summit in Havana Wednesday, Dominican Republic addressed the ongoing controversy over the country’s high-profile immigration ruling.
Medina said he was responding to statements made “by some CARICOM” countries that he said sought to paint the Dominican Republic as “racist, discriminatory and a violator of human rights.”
He said he did not accept that “anyone, either big nor small, could threaten the sovereignty of the Dominican Republic.”
The citizenship ruling made by the country’s Constitutional Court in September 2013, effectively stripped the citizenship of as many as several hundred thousand Dominicans of Haitian descent.
The ruling, which addressed those born to parents who were considered “in transit” and not Dominican nationals, applied retroactively to 1929.
It led to strained ties between both Haiti and the rest of CARICOM, which suspended consideration of the Dominican Republic’s bid for membership in the regional grouping.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic held talks on the issue in Haiti earlier this month, although it was not clear how much progress was made.
“Our country has made it clear from the first day its total openness to receive international support in the implementation of this process and so we are doing that,” Medina said. “However, I must also point out that, as a free and sovereign state, we do not accept that anyone, tiny or large, threatens our national sovereignty.”
He urged those who spoke out on the issue to do so “within the limits of our sovereignty.”
He also said that the country would not undertake discriminatory practices or violations.
“This is a fundamental, principled issue for me and the entire cabinet,” he said,
He also addressed the issue of Haitian migration into the Dominican Republic. Medina said that around 13 percent of births in public hospitals involved mothers who were Haitian nationals, leading to a costs of around $115 million USD.
The country is planning to unveil a new programme to implement the ruling of the constitutional court, which was first announced at the end of 2013.
“These mechanisms, which will soon be launched, expand and protect the rights of all people, providing them with documentation appropriate to their situation in our country, whether Dominican or any other nationality,” he said. “They can be sure that everything will be conducted with the utmost transparency and according to international standards.”
Addressing talks with Haiti, he called them “dialogue between good neighbours.”
“The end result will not be anything but an advancement of human rights and institutions in the Caribbean region,” he said.