PORT-AU-PRINCE–CMC – The Dominican Republic will present new legislation to Parliament on February 27 to address the Constitutional court ruling that denies citizenship to children of Haitian migrants in the Spanish-speaking country.
A joint statement issued at the end of the latest round of talks Monday between Dominican Republic and Haitian officials in the Dominican town of Jimani, indicated that progress had been made on some of the contentious issues between the two countries.
“The Dominican Republic confirmed its commitment to submit to Congress, as of February 27, 2014, at the beginning of the new legislature, a special law to address the situation of those born in the Dominican Republic and who, currently, do not have any documentation,” the joint statement stated.
Last September, the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court ruled that the children of undocumented migrants, who have been in the Dominican Republic and registered as Dominicans as far back as 1929, cannot have Dominican nationality as their parents are considered to be “in transit”.
The decision has been strongly condemned by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the United Nations, with UN the human rights office in Geneva calling on the Dominican Republic to take all necessary measures to ensure that citizens of Haitian origin were not deprived of their right to nationality.
CARICOM has since suspended talks on the Dominican Republic’s application to join the 15-member regional integration grouping to which Haiti belongs.
The Haitian delegation to the meeting, which was headed by Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, has reaffirmed its commitment to expedite the issuance of passports and civil documentation to Haitian nationals in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic authorities say they would grant a one-year work visa to Haitian workers in the country, with possibility for renewal, while Haitian students will be issued a multiple one-year student visa, free of charge.
The students would be allowed to go back and forth through the border without any additional fees.
“Both countries were particularly pleased to have, for the first time, reached an agreement to allow the coordination and exchange of information between the customs authorities and the interconnection of the SIGA-SYDONIA systems,” the joint statement said.
It said both sides have also agreed to a cooperation plan involving law enforcement officials from both countries to combat criminal activities including drug trafficking.
The two countries also agreed as well to integrate both their private sectors in the discussions, in a move to deepen the dialogue between different bi-national sectors. Civil society groups in both countries, with the support of the European Union, will also be able to join the dialogue.