By Ken Richards
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- A former Trinidad and Tobago diplomat says he is not optimistic that an Organization of American States (OAS) mission to the Dominican Republic will be able to convince Santo Domingo to reverse a court ruling that strips tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship.
The OAS’s Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is in the Dominican Republic this week to get a first hand view of the situation already condemned by CARICOM, the OECS, activists and civil society groups across the region.
Ambassador Reginald Dumas
Ambassador Reginald Dumas, a former head of the Trinidad and Tobago public service, has welcomed the thrust being made by the commission to have the problem addressed.
However, he says it will take much more than that to have the Dominican government ensure that some of its citizens are not made stateless.
“The Commission will go and interview people of course and the government, and they say they are going to receive complaints as well, and they’re going to have a press conference on Friday morning in Santo Domingo,” Dumas said, while making the observation that the IACHR does not have the authority to force the country to implement its recommendations.
“A resolution will be passed, the Dominican Republic will continue to say that this is a matter for a sovereign country like the DR, nobody can come and push us around, and we have a right to do what we want to do within our borders,” he predicted.
Meanwhile reports indicate that the Dominican Republic on Saturday launched a plan putting into motion the recent constitutional court ruling that could strip the citizenship of children born to migrants living there illegally.
According to the Associated Press, the plan states that those affected by the ruling have 18 months to request Dominican citizenship starting in June 2014.
The plan, however, does not provide details on what kind of requirements or conditions should be met.
President Danilo Medina signed the plan days before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights holds its five-day hearing to receive complaints and testimony from those affected by the ruling.
The ruling states that those born in the Dominican Republic since 1929 to foreigners living illegally in the country are not automatically granted citizenship.
Human rights groups have decried the plan and the ruling, saying that an estimated 200,000 people could lose their citizenship, the majority of those of Haitian descent.
The government maintains that only some 24,000 would be affected.
AP reports one activist suggesting that the plan is contradictory, because it seeks to naturalize people who were already born in the Dominican Republic and do not have passports from another country.
Joseph Cherubin, director of the local nonprofit Socio-cultural Movement for Haitian Workers says, to naturalize someone, they need to have a foreign passport.
According to Cherubin, the country can’t naturalize a Dominican.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network