This is a submission from the Mona campus organisation, UWI Leads Social Justice and Change.
We write in response to your article 'Patterson urges CARICOM to condemn Dom Rep's latest immigration law against Haitians' dated Thursday, October 10, 2013, where former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson expressed his displeasure and disgust at the displacement of thousands of Haitians from the Dominican Republic.
We join in consolidation to continue the conversation and call our regional leaders to take action and denounce the effort of the Dominican Republic in regards to their neighbours.
Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to a nationality and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality, nor denied the right to change his nationality.
In light of these statements, there are clear human-rights violations that are taking place against the Haitian community living in Dominican Republic. The recent ruling of the Dominican Republic's Constitutional Court is then denying citizenship to individuals born within its borders.
This action thus leaves hundreds of thousands of people of Haitian descent stateless. Statelessness is where an individual does not have any nationality and thus any access to basic necessities such as education, health care and political representation. With such draconian measures, these people do not have anywhere to go or call home.
Though these individuals are in fact of Haitian descent, this does not negate the fact that they are Dominican citizens by virtue of their birth in said state. The clear violation of the right to nationality, stipulated by the many international conventions and treaties to which the Dominican Republic is a signatory and has ratified is being outlandishly and blatantly disrespected.
Will our Caribbean Community continue to be negligent or ignorant to our own CARICOM member and neighbour? This neighbourhood needs to be watchful of the injustices that are taking place or we will soon become victims of our own silence to these issues. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
morally and legally wrong
We are asserting that such measures by the Dominican Republic government are both morally and legally wrong. We previously addressed the illegality of such actions. We now assess the immorality of same.
This is a clear demonstration of prejudice and xenophobia towards the Haitian community, by denying them the right to nationality.
The platform on which we seek CARICOM's intervention is on the premise that, first, Haiti is a CARICOM member. Second, Dominican Republic, though not a member of CARICOM, has certainly expressed the desire to be a part of the Caribbean Community.
CARICOM needs to inform the Dominican Republic that its behaviour is not reflective of the Community's standards of unity and human development. This stigmatisation by the Dominican Republic of these citizens is certainly not putting the best foot forward. This action can be the premise on which membership to CARICOM is denied.
In closing, we stand resolutely with the former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in offering strong condemnation to the action of Dominican Republic and call for action by the heads of government of CARICOM. In the wake of all that is taking place, the least they can do now is to let their voices be heard. They seemingly haven't been doing much otherwise.
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