|"What it is happening is heart-rending. We have seen authorities not only arrest people, but also humiliate them, dragging them half-dressed from their houses, stripping them of their property, and sending carting them off to DAjabon and Jimani [the border points in the south and north]."|
(Santiago, Dominican Republic) April 15, 2011 — The General Directorate of Migration in the Dominican Republic carried out raids, detentions and repatriations of Haitians and persons of Haitian descent during the last week, citing the need to bow to the demands of citizen groups who had demanded the removal of the Haitians.
Yaira Portes, of Jesuit Refugee Service — Santiago's Social Action and Agrarian Center, known as CEFASA, documented indiscriminate arrests and expulsions of persons suspected of Haitian identity by authorities.
JRS—Santiago denounces the round-ups, citing that it has documented massive rights violations including the deportation of persons with legal work permits, confiscation of documents, extortion attempts by arresting immigration officers, the separation of families during deportations, and the clear lack of due process to confirm that those arrested and deported were actually legally subject to deportation.
Of the 650 detained and removed since Migration began its operation on April 12, the majority were impoverished children who beg and seek subsistence on the main streets of Santiago. Deportations are often carried out in a violent manner. On April 14, in one Santiago barrio, officials detained 150 suspected Haitians, holding them for only one hour before transporting the detained over the border. Detained individuals were not allowed to use cell phones to contact legal counsel or family members and thus had no opportunity to prove their legal status in the country.
Yaira Portes of JRS—Santigao/CEFASA, said "What it is happening is heart-rending. We have seen authorities not only arrest people, but also humiliate them, dragging them half-dressed from their houses, stripping them of their property, and sending carting them off to Dajabon and Jimani [the border points in the south and north]."
In some cases JRS staff monitoring the mass round-ups in Santiago this week were assaulted by immigration authorities as they sought to document and monitor the raids.
The operations have failed to meet the most basic safeguards to avoid violation of the 1999 Bilateral Protocol on deportations with that the Dominican government signed with the Government of Haiti. JRS further notes that the raids and other violations of the right to personal liberty are prohibited by the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Constitution of the Dominican Republic. The raids and deportations clearly violate the Dominican constitutional principle of presumption of innocence, freedom of movement and non-discrimination.
202-462-0400 ext. 5946