Prof Rose-Marie Antoine, St Augustine campus dean of the Faculty of Law and commissioner on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and rapporteur for Persons of African Descent and Against Discrimination, says all seven commissioners will be going into the Dominican Republic (DR) from December 2 to 6 to “interrogate the human rights situation”. They will be meeting with President Danilo Medina Sanchez.
On September 23, the Constitutional Court of the DR stripped citizenship from immigrants entering the country since 1929 and that of their offspring.
Antoine also said she was “especially concerned” about the rights of Haitian children. Earlier yesterday, she had attended the launch of the UWI/Family Development Centre (FDC) in St Augustine, yesterday. The launch, which highlighted the acrylic paintings done by 22 children, coincided with Universal Children’s Day.
Via a telephone interview, Antoine said: “The situation must be extreme for the entire commission to go into the DR. The recent constitutional decision on citizenship in relation to the DR is of special interest to us. We have jurisprudence. We have decided cases on this issue. And this latest decision is concerned about the disproportionate impact on people of Haitian descent.”
Antoine added: “The move is in harmony with the United Nations Committee on Refugees. They use our case law to substantiate their own work. We are in sync with other international human rights bodies. When we meet, we will issue a statement.”
Antoine said the recent developments were nothing new. The focus was on people living there and not migrants.
She added: “In our case, the Dominican Court has already found human rights violations of discrimination since 2005 against people of Haitian descent living there. It is not about migrants. It is about people born in the Dominican Republic. It is about their rights and citizenship. It is about the retroactive revocation of citizenship going back to 1929. That decision says it could be taken away from you. And people could be rendered stateless. It is about taking away people’s citizenship. It is not about people who are coming in and they have been born in the state of the Dominican Republic
Sharing her sentiments on the status of children, Antoine said: “It is of interest on the rights of children. In 2005, we know there are special protections on the part of the state towards children. This is of grave impact to human rights. It is very important to the Caribbean. We can make analogies where we have the status of Guyanese and when we have people born in a particular Caribbean country. What is the future of Haitians in Bahamas? What is the general status of Haitians?”
Antoine added: “Haitians were denied their birth certificates. If you don’t have a birth certificate, you are not entitled to education and health. It has now boiled over. It is an unfair and horrific situation.”
To date, Antoine has been writing her own history. She won the principal’s Award for Excellence twice for he contribution to public service and research.