As Haiti recalled its ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Dominican human rights activists Tuesday announced planned demonstrations across the country in coming days to protest a court ruling that effectively strips citizenship rights from Dominican-born children of Haitian immigrants.
According to the Miami Herald, the announcement came after Haiti on Monday recalled its ambassador to the country, Dr. Fritz Cineas, for consultation on what Foreign Minister Pierre-Richard Casimir called a worrying decision by Dominican authorities on the fate of up to 300,000 people born in the country since 1929, most of whom are descendants of Haitians. The ruling from the nation’s top court cannot be appealed.
Dominican 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.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, “The ruling comes amid a deteriorating relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Relations seemed bound for better days after a 2010 earthquake destroyed parts of Haiti and drew the sympathy and support of Dominicans. But recently there’s been a trade row over chicken and egg exports to Haiti.
Late last week, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a scathing evaluation of the Dominican sugar cane industry, finding appalling conditions for workers, who are mostly Haitian. The report, which came in response to a complaint brought under a trade pact between the countries, also found that the government failed to uphold its labor laws.
The Haitian government had long steered clear of commenting on the citizenship controversy, save for a vague mention of the issue by President Michel Martelly during a state visit last year.
The Haitian Foreign Ministry said Monday it was “very concerned by the decision,” but many are doubtful the ruling will become the basis for a larger spat, according to the Herald report.
“Unfortunately, the government of Haiti has in recent years taken a rather equivocal and ineffective line [in terms of being] an advocate for the rights of the Haitian-ancestry minority,” says Samuel Martinez, a University of Connecticut professor and anthropologist who studies Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic. “So I doubt that this measure will add much if any lasting tension. … In the long run they will shrug this off.”