By Ken Richards
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- Prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, has indicated that the Dominican Republic citizenship problem will be one of his priorities when he takes over as Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman in January.
“It’s one of the many priorities. We can’t just drop it – Haiti is a member of CARICOM, the Dominican Republic is in CARIFORUM, they are within our sea space and landscape, they are part of our Caribbean civilization. It has to be dealt with,” he said.
Dr Ralph Gonsalves
Gonsalves has been pressing for sanctions to be imposed on Santo Domingo, over the constitutional court ruling that could strip the citizenship of tens of thousands of Dominicans, mainly those of Haitian descent.
“Shouldn’t you be passionate about it? Shouldn’t every single human being who treasures human rights be passionate about it?” the Vincentian leader responded when asked why he felt it necessary to take a strong stand on that matter.
“You are born in a country and you are being discriminated in respect of not getting the citizenship because of the origin of your parents or fore-parents or because of your race?” Gonsalves told WINN FM while commenting on the matter.
“How could, in heaven’s name, that you be in transit in a country since 1929 – that’s rubbish,” he said.
The Dominican Republic this past weekend rejected an Organisation of American States (OAS) report that accuses the government of discrimination following the September 23 constitutional court ruling. In its report following a five day visit to Santo Domingo, the OAS’s Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said the Caribbean country was deciding people’s nationalities based on private arbitration.
Commission president Jose de Jesus Orozco said the organization received nearly 4,000 testimonies and complaints from people affected by the court ruling, according to the Associated Press news agency. AP reports that the administration of President Danilo Medina criticized the report in a statement and said the finding was a “subjective, partial and unilateral version” of the issue. Officials in the Dominican Republic continue to defend the constitutional court ruling that states that those born in the Dominican Republic since 1929 to foreigners living illegally in the country are not automatically granted citizenship. The government statement said that Santo Domingo was acting in accordance with the constitution, and it would follow the court’s ruling.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network