WASHINGTON D.C., United States, Wednesday October 30, 2013, CMC – The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, says the organization, through its Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), will visit the Dominican Republic shortly to learn more about the case in which Dominicans of Haitian descent have been stripped of their citizenship.
On Tuesday, the OAS Permanent Council considered, at the request of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the decision of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic, on September 23, on the legal status of immigrants and their descendants in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country.
Insulza informed the Permanent Council about the conversations he held on the matter with the Foreign Minister of Haiti, the President of the Dominican Republic and the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, among others.
Gonsalves has already written to the President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, expressing outrage over the court’s decision.
Insulza said two issues have converged in the case, namely that no one can be deprived of his or her nationality, and, therefore, there is a human rights problem.
“But we also have an institutional problem. The Organization of American States is governed by the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which among other things, institutionalizes the rule of law and respect for the independence of the branches of government.
“And, in this case, there is no doubt that this is a statement that has been issued by a constitutional court of a state under its own domestic law. I think this is best dealt with through the human rights system, and that this issue is properly the responsibility of the Commission and the Court,” Insulza said.
“We will continue to work on this issue with the Inter-American Commission in consultation with the Council doing everything possible, without any actions that would mean a break in dialogue,” he added.
Insulza said this is because “we have to find a solution with the maximum degree of agreement, the maximum degree of openness and the maximum degree of goodwill. That has been and remains the conduct of this organization.”
The Permanent Representative of Haiti to the OAS, Duly Brutus, said his country has expressed its “deepest concerns” about the negative consequences of the decision of the Dominican Constitutional Court, which particularly affects his country, “with a large colony of immigrants in the Dominican Republic”.
The Haitian diplomat described as “truly alarming” the possibility that, as a result of the ruling, many citizens who were Dominicans before the court’s sentence, could find themselves, from one day to the next, stateless.
Brutus called on OAS member states to seek a solution to the problem, adding that the OAS “has been at the forefront when it comes to defending the interests of the voiceless”.
The OAS said Haiti has the “express support” of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) diplomatic corps, whose spokesperson, the Permanent Representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, La Celia Prince, requested the inclusion of the item on the agenda.
“This issue, a domestic issue, is of interest to us in that it directly impacts the lives of fellow human beings, citizens of our Hemisphere and, more specifically, members of our Diaspora,” Prince said.
She said the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court “strips tens of thousands of people of rights which they have enjoyed from birth and gives them no recourse to appeal”.
In addition, Prince said the court’s decision violated the Constitution of the Dominican Republic and invoked the relevance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of Children.
Legal adviser to the Executive of the Dominican Republic, Ramón Pina Toribio, said his government “always advocated and has developed relationships of profound respect and brotherhood with other nations, and especially with the Republic of Haiti.
“We want to emphasize that the Dominican government will not allow the violation of the fundamental rights of people that are protected by our laws as a result of this judgment or any other. To ensure this is so, an effective protection of these rights will be carried out, so that due process is respected at all times.
“Also, to achieve the best results, we are completely open to receive the support of countries and international organizations that decide to help us in this task,” added Toribio, stating, however, that the Constitutional Court’s judgments are, in the Dominican Republic “irrevocable and final.
“They constitute binding precedents for the government and all organs of the State,” he added.
The Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat earlier this month issued a statement expressing its regret at the court’s decision.
The ICHR has repeatedly called on the Dominican Republic to adopt measures to guarantee the right to nationality in the country and to adapt its immigration laws and practices in accordance with the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights.
The Geneva-based office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has also called on authorities in the Dominican Republic to ensure that the ruling did not leave persons of Haitian descent in “constitutional limbo”. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)