BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sunday July 5, 2015 – Haitian President Michel Martelly is calling on the Dominican Republic government to come to the negotiating table to hammer out a memorandum of understanding on the handling of the deportation of Haitian descendants.
Since the expiration of the June 17 deadline for legal residency in the Dominican Republic, Martelly said Haiti has had a very difficult time coping with the number of people who have been haphazardly crossing over the border it shares with the Dominican Republic.
“After what we have experienced these last three days we are very concerned. Haitians are coming, probably voluntarily, but under pressure because they’re coming at any time. [It’s] no good for us,” the president told the media during the three-day meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Barbados that wrapped up yesterday.
“We’ve been trying to get a protocol with the DR so we can agree on who’s coming, when they’re coming, how they’re coming, how many are coming. Lately we have realised that they’re coming at one in the morning, they come all over the border. Two nights ago 21 people came. They seem to be Dominicans since they had no papers.”
Speaking ahead of his departure from the island, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it was imperative that the countries reach agreement on the matter that relates to “human rights and human dignity”.
“I am encouraged the Dominican Republic and Haiti have maintained binational dialogue during this challenging time. I strongly believe that it is critical for them to engage in a frank and constructive dialogue,” he said.
The thorny issue was one of the main agenda items of the meeting that was attended by 17 heads of government and secretaries generals from the Commonwealth and the Organisation of American States.
St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said CARICOM’s position on the citizenship row is clear.
“We cannot accept in the 21st century, in our Caribbean civilisation, that citizenship be determined on the basis of ethnicity or national origin of a people where that national origin is but a cloak for an ethnic discrimination,” he said.
Officials in the Dominican Republic say only 10,000 people have provided the documents required by its immigration registration programme, though an estimated 460,000 Haitian migrants reside in the country.