By: SKNIS, Press Release
Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 24, 2015 (SKNIS): St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris has strongly condemned the decision by the Dominican Republic to deport persons of Haitian descent, in what the media describes as a “humanitarian tragedy.”
The Dominican Republic gave a deadline of June 17, 2015 for people of Haitian descent to apply for legal residency. The Government has said, migrants who can prove they entered the country before October 2011 can qualify for legal residency, otherwise they will face deportation.
“We express deep concern over the situation facing persons of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic,” Prime Minister Harris said. “The issue in the Dominican Republic is two-fold, one is an immigration issue, and the other is a basic human rights issue.”
Reflecting on the issue of undocumented Haitians in the Dominican Republic, Prime Minister Harris said, “St. Kitts and Nevis respects a country’s enforcement of its immigration policies, however, given the socio-economic vulnerability of Haiti, we urge that the enforcement be done in collaboration with Haiti.”
Prime Minister Harris also spoke to the possible deportation of persons born in the Dominican Republic of Haitian descent, “The denial of citizenship to persons born in the Dominican Republic of Haitian descent would be a breach of international law. International law would require that they be considered citizens in the land of their birth. Any effort to deport them would be in our view, a violation of international law and best practices.”
“The matter of citizenship is a fundamental human rights issue and we are urging not only the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), but the Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN), to speak out against the prospect of this Human Rights violation,” stressed Prime Minister Harris.
In this regard, Dr. Harris has been in conversation with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, Chairman of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Prime Minister Perry Christie, Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).