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Haiti, Dominican Republic make new progress in bilateral talks
Published on February 5, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

PM Laurent Lamothe (left) with Dominican presidency minister Gustavo Montalvo

By Joseph Guyler Delva

JIMANI, Haiti (HCNN) -- Haiti and the Dominican Republic made further gains in talks held on contentious issues between the two states, with representatives of the neighbouring Caribbean countries committing to submit a new legislation to address the status of undocumented individuals born in Dominican territory, among other agreements.

The Dominican presidency minister, Gustavo Montalvo, who led his country's delegation to the joint bi-national high level commission's talks, held on Monday in the Dominican town of Jimani, confirmed his government's commitment to passing a new legislation to deal with the case of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent, who have been stripped of their citizenship.

"The Dominican Republic confirmed its commitment to submit to Congress, as of February 27, 2014, at the beginning of the new legislature, a special law to address the situation of those born in the Dominican Republic and who, currently, do not have any documentation," reads a joint declaration signed at the end of the Jimani session.

The cases of those individuals were not taken into account in the regularization plan, set up recently by the Dominican government, which particularly addresses the status of undocumented foreigners.

The Dominican Republic's Constitutional Tribunal issued last year a ruling that stripped citizenship from thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent or that rendered them ineligible for Dominican nationality.

Meanwhile, the Haitian party, led by Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, reaffirmed its commitment to expedite the issuance of passports and civil documentation to Haitian nationals both in border posts and consulates in the Dominican Republic.

Dominican authorities commit to grant a one-year work visa to Haitian workers in the Dominican Republic, with possibility for renewal, while Haitian students will be issued a multiple one-year student visa, free of charge, and will be allowed to go back and forth through the border without any additional fees.

The declaration says, "Both countries were particularly pleased to have, for the first time, reached an agreement to allow the coordination and exchange of information between the customs authorities and the interconnection of the SIGA-SYDONIA systems."

Both parties also agreed to a cooperation plan between both police forces in the fight against criminality, drug trafficking, among other issues. Active cooperation was also announced in the field of the environment.

Both governments agreed as well to integrate both countries' private sectors in the discussions, in a move to deepen the dialogue between different bi-national sectors. Civil society groups in both countries, with the support of the European Union, will also be able to join the dialogue.

Anticipating a lack of results, many were very skeptical when the leaders of both countries -- under the auspices of the Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro -- launched, by the end of last year, the series of high-level bilateral discussions.

However, concrete efforts made by both sides to come to a modus vivendi are being saluted by different sectors in both countries and internationally, even though many questions remain over implementation procedures of the positive measures.
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