Dominican government is accused of forcible deportations

Last modified: 7/3/2015 12:52:26 AM
The Dominican Republic’s government is facing new accusations that it has arbitrarily detained and deported people in recent months as part of a crackdown on undocumented Haitian migrants.

Human Rights Watch reported that authorities rounded up and deported people who should have been allowed to stay – people born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian parents. The report cited more than 60 cases of such arbitrary arrest and said that “military and immigration authorities have repeatedly profiled Dominicans of Haitian descent, detaining and forcibly expelling them, even when they possess valid Dominican documentation.”

On Wednesday night, presidential spokesman Roberto Rodríguez Marchena rejected the report, calling it “lies” intended to “damage the Dominican Republic.”

Dominican Foreign Minister Andrés Navarro said earlier this week while visiting Washington that the government had not embarked on a deportation program after the June 17 deadline to register for residency permits and that it “will not deport one single Dominican.” Navarro said that more than 25,000 Haitians have returned voluntarily to their country of origin.

A 2013 ruling by the Dominican supreme court retroactively stripped the citizenship of people born in the country to undocumented Haitian migrants.

The government then set up an immigration system in which people could register to prove their right to stay.

“Dominicans have, at this point, a serious risk of being deported from the Dominican Republic to Haiti,” José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director for Human Rights Watch, said in an interview.

Last month, in the Haitian border town of Ouanaminthe, several returning Haitians said in interviews that they had fled their homes because they were worried about the response of Dominican authorities if they had stayed. Some who were born in the Dominican Republic said the paperwork required to prove their right to stay was too cumbersome and expensive to complete.

“The Dominicans said, ‘You’re not going to come back to this house anymore,’ ” said Margaret Etien, an 18-year-old tomato picker who had been living in the Dominican town of Santiago. “They took our money. They took our clothing. They threw us out.”


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