EDITORIAL: Puzzling politicking with Caricom
LAST WEDNESDAY, there came a most interesting news report out of Haiti that the government of the Dominican Republic (DR) had decided to present “new legislation” to its parliament on February 27 to address the controversial issue of a constitutional court’s ruling last year that has alarmingly had the effect of denying citizenship rights to settled immigrants of Haitian descent.
Considering the outrage expressed at the development over the past four months, disclosure of the promised “new legislation” could be regarded as good news for more than an estimated 200 000 victims currently rendered stateless by the new law.
What, however, remains quite puzzling is the failure by either the government of Haiti or the DR to at least provide an advisory note to CARICOM about the coming initiative.
If the DR government is still too angry with CARICOM for making public its intention to bloc its desire for membership of the Community unless the obnoxious immigration law is changed, then why has the government in Port-au-Prince failed to communicate this proposed new legislation to the CARICOM Secretariat?
After all, Haiti is a member of CARICOM and President Michel Martelly is well aware of the opposition of regional governments, institutions and organisations to the original legislation. While political militancy among CARICOM leaders at times varies on regional and international issues, the DR government was quite aware, since last November, of the expressed interest by the Community in “mediation” efforts to address the obnoxious provisions of the new immigration law. It also knew of CARICOM’s plan to suspend business relations between the European Union and the CARIFORUM group of countries (CARICOM plus the DR).
In the circumstances, if the government in Santo Domingo is too upset over CARICOM’s angry responses to bother to share information on the proposed new immigration law, why then the shocking inaction by the government of Haiti?
In a joint statement released to the media on the latest rounds of talks focused on the implications of the controversial law, the DR confirmed its commitment to new legislation to resolve what was described as “the situation of those born in the Dominican Republic and who currently do not have any documentation . . .”.
Different words from the DR Constitutional Court’s ruling that children born to undocumented migrants since 1929, and registered as Dominicans, cannot be entitled to Dominican nationality as their parents are officially considered to be “in transit”.
A question of relevance is whether the Haitian government considers it appropriate to officially communicate to CARICOM this latest development on the DR’s coming ‘repentance’ (?) for its original degrading immigration law.