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Dominican Republic rejects criticism of Haitian deportations

Published:Tuesday | November 22, 2022 | 10:33 AM
Haitians wait to cross the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti in Dajabon, Dominican Republic, Friday, November 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix, File)

HAVANA (AP) — The Dominican Republic said it “profusely rejects” criticism of its crackdown on Haitian migrants from a growing number of countries and human rights agencies.

Dominican authorities have ramped up border enforcement and deportations of Haitians, saying such actions are crucial to national security amid intensifying turmoil in the neighbouring country due to a gang blockade of fuel supplies and a cholera outbreak.

Authorities say they deported 43,900 migrants, largely Haitians, between July and October.

In September and October alone, deportation figures shot up by about 50%.

The government's actions have sparked heavy criticism in recent weeks from Haiti, the United Nation human rights chief and the United States.

On Saturday, the US Embassy in the capital of Santo Domingo sent out a warning saying Dominican migration authorities “have carried out widespread operations” to detain largely Haitian migrants who they believe are in the country illegally.

“There are reports that detainees are held in overcrowded detention centres, without the ability to challenge their detention and without access to food or toilets, sometimes for days, before being released or deported to Haiti,” the Embassy wrote.

The Embassy also warned that the government's actions could pose a problem for darker-skinned Americans and African Americans travelling in the Dominican Republic.

Unlike the UN and Haiti, however, the US did not explicitly call for the country to halt deportations. President Joe Biden's administration has defended its own practise of deporting and expelling Haitian migrants arriving at its southern border, despite heavy criticism from human rights organisations.

The Dominican Ministry of Foreign Relations lashed back at the criticism on Sunday, saying the American government had “no evidence” of any sort of systematic human rights violations. It also decried what it said was a lack of international support to handle the migration from Haiti.

“The Dominican government never could have imagined there would be such a harsh insinuation made about our country,” the ministry wrote, “much less from an ally that has been subject to accusations of xenophobic and racist treatment of migrants, including in parts of its own population.”

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