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Suriname to draw attention to DR ruling on Hatians


PARAMARIBO–Winston Lackin, Suriname’s Minister of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday announced that he will draw attention regionally and internationally to the plight of people from Haitian origin that stand to become stateless in the Dominican Republic (DR), which is planning to strip citizenship from anyone born to migrants who entered illegally.

Lackin made the announcement in a press release issued after a brief meeting Sunday with Haitian Foreign Minister Pierre-Richard Casimir.

Spanish-speaking Dominicans and Creole-speaking Haitians share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola and have a long history of troubles. The latest hitch in their relationship came last week when the DR’s Constitutional Court passed a decree to withdraw citizenship from anyone born to illegal migrants. The decree from the country’s highest court cannot be appealed and it affects up to 300,000 people of Haitian descent born since 1929, many of whom are descendants of Haitians who were brought in to work on farms.

Advocacy groups for immigrants in the DR have expressed anger over the ruling, saying it ignored the rights of those affected and was based on bigotry against predominantly black Haitians. DR officials defended the ruling, saying it ends uncertainty for children of immigrants and opens the door for them to apply for residency and eventually citizenship but no plan is currently in place.

Haiti’s Government has meanwhile recalled its ambassador to the DR for consultation and Foreign Minister Pierre-Richard Casimir has taken off on a tour of the region to collect support. In Suriname he presented Foreign Minister Lackin with an outline of Haiti’s formal response. Casimir urged Suriname’s Government to express its solidarity with Haiti and its concern about the far reaching effects the new DR legislation will have economically and socially.

He has also called for the support of Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar -who is currently the chair of the Caribbean Community- and Guyana’s Foreign MInister Carolyne Rodriques and planned to meet with other South American leaders to plead the plight of his displaced countrymen.

Minister Lackin promised to bring the matter to the attention of the Union of South American States UNASUR, of which Suriname currently holds the chairmanship.

Suriname and Haiti have strengthened their relationship this year, both opening diplomatic stations in each other’s capitals. President Desi Bouterse visited Haiti in July and President Michel Martelly even showed off his singing skills when he led a Haitian delegation to Carifesta XI in Suriname last August.