Haitians protest over Dominican Republic deportations

Thousands march in solidarity with undocumented residents of Haitian descent in Dominican Republic who face deportation.

    Hundreds of thousands of Haitians have emigrated for years to the Dominican Republic for work [AFP/Getty Images]
    Hundreds of thousands of Haitians have emigrated for years to the Dominican Republic for work [AFP/Getty Images]

    Haitians have marched in Port-au-Prince in solidarity with the thousands of undocumented residents of Haitian descent who face deportation from the Dominican Republic.

    Thousands of protesters demanded on Tuesday that the Haitian government ban the import of goods from the neighbouring country.

    The demonstrators presented the relevant petition to Evans Paul, Haiti's prime minister.

    Many protesters wore T-shirts calling for migrants to be respected as they made their way through the capital under police escort.

    Jean Robert Argand, from the Collective of December 4, a civil society group, called on Haitians to back local products that support citizens and build their economy.

    "We urge the Dominican Republic government to respect the rights of Haitians and their dignity. Also, we ask that they start to support our local products," he said.

    The protests came after the application of a 2013 court ruling in the Dominican Republic that denied children of Haitian migrants their birth certificates, identity documents, and stripped them of their nationality, Amnesty International and the UN say.

    While the Dominican government says the legal changes aim to tackle illegal migration from Haiti, human rights groups say the move is rooted in long-standing racism and xenophobia in the Dominican Republic towards darker-skinned Haitians.

    Activists estimate that up to 200,000 people are in legal limbo and stateless - not recognised as a citizen by Haiti or the Dominican Republic.

    A deported Haitian man holds up a document that confirms he handed in paperwork to apply for legal residency in the Dominican Republic [AP]

    Hundreds of thousands of Haitians have emigrated for years to the Dominican Republic for work.

    Last month, Haiti's prime minister said the influx of Haitians returning from the Dominican Republic was causing a humanitarian crisis.

    But authorities in the Dominican Republic have downplayed concerns, saying those in the country can sign up for a regularisation process for undocumented migrants. 

    The Dominican government set up a registration programme that would grant two-year temporary migrant status to those who could meet requirements.

    It says more than 210,000 people have registered under the programme.

    SOURCE: AP And Reuters


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