By Ken Richards
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (WINN) -- The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has been urged further to tighten the screws on the Dominican Republic to pressure the Spanish-speaking country to resolve the statelessness problem affecting Dominicans of Haitian descent.
The appeal has come from lawyer/activist David Commissiong of Barbados.
The Bridgetown-based attorney has welcomed the decision of the regional grouping to defer consideration of the application by Santo Domingo to join CARICOM.
“I was one of the persons pressing CARICOM to be very robust on this issue. So I am extremely pleased that they have taken this step, and I would like to urge our CARICOM leaders to continue the pressure, we must not relent until this issue is settled satisfactorily,” Commissiong told WINN FM.
There has been widespread condemnation of the ruling of the constitutional court in the Dominican Republic that strips hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship.
Tuesday’s statement on the matter by CARICOM comes at a time when reports suggest that hundreds of these people are already being deported to Haiti.
Haitian president Michel Martelly estimated that over the past few days the authorities in Santo Domingo have deported 300 people “who do not know the country, who do not have family in Haiti and who do not even speak the language.”
Commissiong says the situation is very serious and prompt steps must be taken to prevent further deportations.
“This has the potential to cause loss of life for our brothers and sisters of Haitian ancestry in the Dominican Republic … we are already seeing the ugliness of it, but it can turn much more ugly,” he warned.
The current CARICOM chair, Trinidadian Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, has vowed to raise the Dominican Republic matter with the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
A delegation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is also scheduled to visit the Dominican Republic early next month.
Commissiong says the CARICOM position sends a clear message that the region won’t stand for what’s being perpetrated in the Dominican Republic.
“It will send a message not only to the Dominican Republic, but it will send a message to the international community that we in the Caribbean are taking this thing very seriously, and it will send a message that the rest of the international community needs to pay attention, needs to put that pressure on the Dominican Republic,” Commissiong said.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network