Posted: 3:08 am EDT
Nearly 600 former Peace Corps volunteers and three PC country directors who served in the Dominican Republic wrote an open letter to Secretary Kerry urging the suspension of aid to the Dominican Republic due to its treatment of Dominicans of Haitian descent:
It is due to our deep and abiding concern for the most vulnerable members of Dominican society that we are writing to you about the crisis of statelessness among Dominicans of Haitian descent. We urge you to end U.S. involvement in the violation of their human rights: enforce the Leahy Amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act and annual Department of Defense appropriations.
The Leahy laws state that no U.S. assistance shall be furnished to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if there is credible information that such a unit has committed a gross violation of human rights. Given the Dominican government’s disregard for international law with respect to the status of its citizens of Haitian descent; the violent track record of Dominican security forces receiving funding and training from the United States; and the Dominican Armed Forces’ readiness to execute a potentially massive campaign of rights-violating expulsions, we ask that the United States suspend its military aid to the Dominican government.
In 2013, the Dominican Constitutional Court issued a ruling (168-13) that effectively stripped hundreds of thousands of people, primarily those of Haitian descent, of their Dominican citizenship. This ruling stands in direct contravention of international human rights law—specifically the American Convention on Human Rights,which the Dominican government ratified in 1978. This convention enshrines the right to a nationality and prohibits its arbitrary deprivation. Many Dominicans of Haitian ancestry, including those whose families have resided in the
Dominican Republic for generations, were rendered stateless and face forcible deportation to a country where many have no ties whatsoever. A subsequent Dominican law (169-14), which addressed the court’s ruling, further entrenched the negation of the right to citizenship on the basis of one’s place of birth, and retroactively conferred citizenship on the basis of the immigration status of one’s parents.
The volunteers’ letter specifically cites the security forces that “appear poised to carry out mass deportations within the country, including the U.S.-trained border patrol agency, CESFRONT, which has received more than $17.5 million in assistance from the United States since 2013.”
“If the United States is serious about protecting universally recognized human rights, we must no longer abet such actions in the Dominican Republic, much less be complicit in an impending intensification of human rights abuses. In our view, it appears impossible for the Dominican government to move forward with the implementation of its human rights-violating, internationally condemned citizenship laws without involving its security forces in yet more widespread and severe abuses.”
A small group representing the volunteers has requested a meeting with Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Roberta Jacobson.
I’m on CNN… Signature #319… “Ex-Peace Corps volunteers unite for U.S. action on Dominican immigration policies” http://t.co/KF604pM7wZ
— Joseph McElligott (@joegmac) August 10, 2015
Where did the Dominican government get the weapons and training to conduct this type of aggressive campaign? The U.S. http://t.co/cHBB4f4lXg
— French Havana (@FrenchieGlobal) August 10, 2015
Thousands of Haitians fleeing Dominican Republic stuck in camps http://t.co/Al35B4YhtZ
— The Guardian (@guardian) August 5, 2015
— Justice Initiative (@OSFJustice) August 4, 2015
The Dominican Republic has been dismissive of its stateless citizens of Haitian descent for too long http://t.co/IgsNWd0uQ4
— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) July 13, 2015