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An outrageous ruling

By Ralph Gonsalves

 Following is the text of the letter from the Prime Minister, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, to Dominican Republic (DR) President Danilo Medina, in response to the recent ruling of the DR constitutional court that upends the status of people of Haitian descent who were born in the Dominican Republic.


The government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines are deeply distressed that the constitutional court in the Dominican Republic has, in a recent ruling, denied citizenship to persons of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic. This court decision in effect renders stateless, huge numbers of these persons of Haitian descent. 

Surely, this ruling by the court is unacceptable in any civilised community. It is an affront to all established international norms and elemental humanity, and threatens to make the Dominican Republic a pariah regionally and globally. 

It is subversive of your country’s international human rights obligations as enshrined in several international and hemispheric conventions/treaties to which it is a state party. 

As you are no doubt aware, the decision of the court is being widely interpreted internationally as being grounded in jaundiced anti-Haitian or even racist mindset, given the fact that most of the persons deprived of their citizenship by birth are black. 

It is thus incumbent on the government and people of the Dominican Republic to stand askance from the court’s decision and set about promptly and practically to make the requisite corrective in accordance with your international obligations. 


Under your leadership and that of your distinguished predecessor, the Dominican Republic has made commendable strides to lift its image in the regional and international community and to erase the memory of some of the mischiefs of the past. 

Your republic is a vital member of Cariforum, and is in quest of membership in Caricom, to which Haiti belongs. The real, not potential, adverse impact on these regional and other multi-state relationships is self-evident. 

The Caricom Secretary General has spoken wisely and publicly against the decision of the constitutional court. So, too, have many outstanding citizens in member states of Caricom including the Most Honourable PJ Patterson, former prime minister of Jamaica and dear friend of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. 


Some in your country may well consider all this to be an unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of the Dominican Republic. Plainly it is not! The fig-leaf of sovereignty cannot be invoked when time-honoured and universal principles of citizenship and human decency are trampled upon. 

These precepts go beyond the outermost boundaries of a country’s territorial limits: they are essential to humanity. Moreover, your country has its international obligations 

I regret that the circumstances have compelled me to write robustly on this matter. I assure you that my language is restrained and does not fully express my personal outrage. 

All the best to you your family, government and people. I continue to love you and the people of the Dominican Republic. 

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