DR should ‘cease and desist’, says Harris
A regional leader is calling on the Dominican Republic authorities to cease and desist with any plan that would lead to the expulsion of Dominican nationals of Haitian decent and render them stateless.
Newly-elected Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis Timothy Harris made this appeal in his inaugural address to a CARICOM Heads of Government summit this evening.
Harris, who was elected back in February told the opening ceremony of the 36th CARICOM Heads of Government conference, that the government in the DR recently launched a programme offering legal residency to Haitians born there.
However, he noted that the deadline for applications ended last week with thousands still unable to register.
The prime minister therefore called for the deadline for the registration of undocumented immigrants to be extended to allow time for the appropriate solutions to be devised in keeping with international principles and best practices.
Harris said there was no other time when regional unity and solidarity was more important than now, given what the current “humanitarian and human rights crisis” affecting Haitians living in the Dominican Republic, who now face deportation.
“We in St Kitts and Nevis, share the pain and anguish of the unfortunate Dominicans of Haitian decent and we stand with them in opposition to the present assault to their human rights and dignity caused by the various covert and overt actions taken by the government of the Dominican Republic, seemingly intent on forcing them to either self deport or directly expel them from the land of their birth, to a land [in which] they have neither family nor language links,” he said.
In his speech, the Kittitian leader also warned that CARICOM’s success in securing vibrant societies and resilient economies, which is in keeping with the theme of the summit, would be determined by how successful member states were in carrying their unity forward, as well as the strength of the involvement of citizens in the integration process.
In this regard, Harris said he was heartened by recent efforts at reforming the governance architecture of CARICOM and democratizing the decision-making process through the operationalization of the CARICOM Permanent Committee of Ambassadors.
He said he hoped these ambassadors would strengthen the consultative process with national constituencies, in order to have the views of the people reflected in the region’s agenda.
The prime minister also commended the government of Antigua and Barbuda for successfully hosting the recent consultations.
“This new development, along with the proposed re-establishment of the Assembly of Caribbean Community Parliamentarians will finally create a system, which gives central place to the sovereignty of the people through the inclusion of the CARICOM body politic and social partners,” he said.