Prime Minister Skerrit condemns Dominican Republic

Roseau, Dominica (CMC) — Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Tuesday condemned the decision by the Dominican Republic to deport people of Haitian descent, describing the situation as a “major human rights issues”.

The Dominican Republic gave a deadline of 17 June 2015 for people of Haitian descent to apply for legal residency. Hundreds of people, mostly low-wage workers from neighbouring Haiti, waited in line for hours to submit residency applications under a registration initiative that began last June.

The Dominican Republic has said migrants who can prove they entered the country before October 2011 can qualify for legal residency. Otherwise they could face deportation.

But Skerrit, speaking at a news conference, said “what has happened is that you have people of Haitian descent who were born in the Dominican Republic, who by a decision of the Supreme Court, denied them, stripped them off of their right to citizenship in the Dominican Republic”.

Skerrit said CARICOM had received a commitment from the Dominican Republic government that they had taken action to regularise those citizens.

“But the timeframe which they gave and the onerous request which they were making of the applicants, make it impossible for the vast majority of those citizens to apply for their citizenship,” Skerrit told reporters.

“The Dominican Republic has taken a decision to deport tens of thousands of Dominican Republic citizens back into Haiti with no address and no family links in Haiti because some of them haven’t been there for so many years,” Skerrit said.

Prime Minister Skerrit said CARICOM believes that “this is not an immigration issue, this is not about somebody in your country who does not have papers and the person is not regularised, doesn’t have a work permit and therefore you deport him,” rather, it is a human rights issue which all citizens and countries must speak out against and condemn.

“We believe and we maintain that this is a human rights issue and Amnesty International and the International Human Rights Courts have all ruled and given their opinion on this matter”.

“I believe that we as citizens of the world must be cognizant of these issues and to raise our voice in condemnation that it is unbecoming of any society to render these thousands of people stateless,” Skerrit told reporters.

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