Thursday, January 18, 2018

Group marches in PoS against ruling

Thousands stripped in DR of citizenship...

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HAITIAN PETITION: Costumed members of the UWI-based arts group Jouvay Ayiti display placards outside The Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair yesterday after delivering a petition in response to the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court’s ruling which has rendered stateless over 300,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent. —Photo: STEPHEN DOOBAY

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IF decisive action is not taken by the Caribbean Community (Caricom) in response to a recent controversial ruling in the Dominican Republic, the region may face a bloody “cleansing” equivalent to the situation that took place in Nazi Germany.

This was the ominous warning sounded by Prof Emeritus Norman Girvan, the former secretary general of the Association of Caribbean States, yesterday.

Dr Jose Serulle Ramia, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to Trinidad and Tobago, has however denounced all the doom and gloom prophecies saying these are based on misinformation.

Serulle denied that Haitians will be harassed and said the law in question was aimed at regularising the status of undocumented immigrants to the Dominican Republic.

On September 23, the Dominican Constitutional Tribunal ruled that “foreigners with no residence permit in the country must be equated with the category of foreigners in transit, under which their children are not eligible for Dominican citizenship, even though they were born in Dominican territory”.

This ruling has caused an outcry among the 450,000 immigrants of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic.

Haiti and the Dominican Republic share an island land mass.

The controversial ruling was issued in response to a case brought by the Dominican-born daughter of Haitian migrants, who had been refused a Dominican identity card.

The Dominican Constitutional Tribunal ruled that because both of the girl’s parents were undocumented migrants they were considered to be “in transit” through the Dominican Republic and therefore she was not automatically entitled to Dominican citizenship.

This decision could leave hundreds of thousands of people who consider themselves Dominican now stateless.

A theatrical demonstration was yesterday held in Port of Spain in protest of the ruling.

Around 10 a.m. yesterday members of the Jouvay Ayiti group started to gather at the Queen’s Park Savannah opposite the embassy of the Dominican Republic.

Ayiti is the original Amerindian name for Haiti.

The group presented a petition of 800 numbers to the Embassy of the Dominican Republic and the Office of the Prime Minister.

They were accompanied my mas characters portraying the situation taking place in the Dominican Republic.

Rawle Gibbons, a co-director of Jouvay Ayiti, said the group, which was formed following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, viewed the recent ruling as an “outrage”.

Gibbons said yesterday’s demonstration was aimed at showing the Caricom leaders how citizens around the region feel about the Dominican Republic’s ruling.

Girvan was among those who were present to show his support to the action by Jouvay Ayiti.

He called for the Dominican Republic to face severe repercussions for its adherence to the court ruling.

Girvan called for a boycott of all events taking place in the Dominican Republic by Caricom and its member states.

“I am also suggesting and in fact putting that Caricom should put on hold the application of the Dominican Republic to become a member of the Caribbean Community and the application of the Dominican Republic to join the Caribbean Development Bank,” Girvan said.

“I am also suggesting that Caricom explore the possibility of suspending the Dominican Republic from Cariforum which is the body to which Caricom and the DR belong which interacts with the European Union,” he said.

Girvan said the court ruling was “inhumane and contrary to international conventions and norms to which the Dominican Republic itself subscribes”.

He said the ruling would render stateless people who only know the Dominican Republic as their home.

Serulle has however downplayed the concerns.

Speaking through an interpreter, Serulle yesterday hosted the media at the embassy to answer questions relating to the issue.

He said the concerns being raised on the international stage were based on misinterpretations and misinformation of the Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling.

“The purpose of the ruling is to regularise the presence of the Haitian immigrants and all of the immigrants in the country so everybody can move around and they are not going to be harassed by bullies or any other person,” Serulle said.

“A lot of people have been taking about racism but that is not true that is a lie. In the Dominican Republic we cannot have racism, we could have some people who might be racist like in all over the world. But the Dominican people cannot be racist,” he said.

Serulle said he was once ambassador to Haiti and he loves that country and its people.