OAS Permanent Council Receives the Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic

Michael J. Fitzpatrick, Interim Permanent Representative of the United States, addresses the OAS Permanent Council, June 30, 2015.
Michael J. Fitzpatrick, Interim Permanent Representative of the United States, addresses the OAS Permanent Council, June 30, 2015.

Interim Permanent Representative Fitzpatrick addressed a Special Meeting of the OAS Permanent Council to receive the Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic, Andres Navarro Garcia, June 30, 2015.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  Mr. Secretary-General, Permanent Representatives: Good afternoon — y muy buenas tardes a todas y a todos.  The United States would like to take this opportunity to thank His Excellency, Foreign Minister Navarro for his presentation to the Member States.

We very much appreciate the information and would like to offer a few observations, several of which no doubt complement or echo comments already expressed by some of my colleagues here today.

As an initial matter, the United States continues to stress the importance of transparent communication, clear protocols, and adequate time and resources for the processing of individuals during the regularization and naturalization processes, and for any related deportations.

As you know, we are monitoring the situation closely and are actively engaging with the government of the Dominican Republic, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the larger international community to stress that any actions should be conducted in a manner consistent with the Dominican Republic’s international legal obligations and commitments. We appreciate the Minister’s coming here today and reaffirming his nation’s willingness – indeed, stated desire – to do so.

We urge the government of the Dominican Republic to work with the government of Haiti to enact a transparent and regularized migration policy that upholds the rights of all individuals.

With regard to involuntary deportations, we encourage the government to share its screening processes and protocols with the public to reduce the possibility for abuse of returnees and deportees, their families, or others, including Dominicans of Haitian descent, and to reduce uncertainty or added vulnerability that may exist within the affected populations and communities, including those that qualify under the naturalization and regularization plans.  This will also help reduce the potential for violence or threats of violence against migrants in the Dominican Republic.

We also hope that the government continues to train police, immigration, and military personnel to effectively follow processes and protocols to screen individually potential involuntary deportees to prevent erroneous deportations of those with valid or pending claims to Dominican citizenship or humanitarian protection and to treat all persons humanely and in accordance with Dominican law and international obligations.

Next, we encourage the government to continue its coordination with the Government of Haiti on deportations, providing advance notice on the number of deportees and biographic information on deportees prior to their arrival at border crossings.

We also hope the Dominican Republic will continue its efforts to work with Haiti on the documentation requirements of deportees as well as border reception issues so large outflows of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent does not lead to a risk of instability and violence on the border.

To this end, we strongly encourage the finalization of your negotiations on the border crossing discussions and come to agreement on the number of border crossings and provide advance notice on deportees to allow the Government of Haiti time to accommodate and screen individuals to determine their citizenship and provide assistance.

We understand the government had been working with the Haitian government to update the bilateral 1999 Agreement on Repatriation Protocols.  The United States believes it is important that deportation protocols be completed now to reassure the international community that both countries can humanely and efficiently process deportees, while simultaneously reducing the risk of statelessness.

We congratulate the Secretary-General for the announcement of an OAS Mission to determine the framework for OAS assistance and cooperation on migration issues in accordance with international law.  And we thank the governments of the Dominican Republic and Haiti in advance for their assistance to this Mission and ensuring its success as well.

And again, we thank the distinguished Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic for the presentation and look forward to hearing even more about what the government is already doing, and will be doing in the future, especially following the many constructive suggestions proffered here today by so many Member States.

Thank you very much.