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UN alerted to Dominican ‘de-Haitianization’ policy

22 August 2005

United Nations human rights bodies have been alerted to a deteriorating situation of violence and discrimination against Haitian nationals and their mass deportations by the Dominican Republic. Minority Rights Group International (MRG) has warned the Dominican government that continued systematic deportations and its failure to protect the rights of Haitians could result in a charge of ethnic cleansing. Dominican public officials including the Secretary of State for Labour have commented in the media that the Dominican government is preparing a plan to ‘de-Haitianize’ the country.

In the latest incident in August more than 3,000 Haitians have been detained with over 1,000 deported. Haitian media and human rights groups have reported increasing violent attacks against Haitians including three who were burnt alive by a gang and are in a serious condition in hospital. Violence against Haitians has been used to justify deportations on the grounds of protecting their safety. Elements of the Dominican media have been accused by the Forum for the Preservation of Peace and Haitian-Dominican Friendship of an anti-Haitian campaign contributing to an upsurge in discrimination and violence.

MRG has received information that shows that Haitians are being arbitrarily detained and deported with no consideration given to their status, family situation or welfare. Those with legal right to remain and Dominicans of Haitian origin have had their papers confiscated and have been deported alongside undocumented migrants. Such acts are illegal under international law relating to both citizens and non-citizens, to which the Dominican Republic is a party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

A request for urgent communication with the government of the Dominican Republic has been made to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has also been notified of the situation and MRG’s concerns over widespread and institutional discrimination against Haitians.

Minority Rights Group International raised its concern over discrimination and a pattern of mass deportations in a 2003 report, Migration in the Caribbean: Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Beyond1. MRG calls on the Dominican government to immediately cease mass deportations and put in place measures to ensure the security of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian origin. The government should prevent public officials and the media from making statements and using language that may incite racial hatred.

Notes for editors

  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 13 states that: ‘An alien lawfully in the territory of a State Party to the present Covenant may be expelled therefrom only in pursuance of a decision reached in accordance with law and shall, except where compelling reasons of national security otherwise require, be allowed to submit the reasons against his expulsion and to have his case reviewed by, and be represented for the purpose before, the competent authority or a person or persons especially designated by the competent authority.’
  • CERD General Recommendation 30 (4th May 2005) calls upon states to protect the rights of non-citizens, and to: 25. Ensure that laws concerning deportation or other forms of removal of non-citizens from the jurisdiction of the State party do not discriminate in purpose or effect among non-citizens on the basis of race, colour or ethnic or national origin, and that non-citizens have equal access to effective remedies, including the right to challenge expulsion orders, and are allowed effectively to pursue such remedies; 26. Ensure that non-citizens are not subject to collective expulsion, in particular in situations where there are insufficient guarantees that the personal circumstances of each of the persons concerned have been taken into account; 27. Ensure that non-citizens are not returned or removed to a country or territory where they are at risk of being subject to serious human rights abuses, including torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; 28. Avoid expulsions of non-citizens, especially of long-term residents, that would result in disproportionate interference with the right to family life.
  • Download MRG’s report ‘Migration in the Caribbean: Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Beyond