Haitians expelled over OAP killings
Published 25/11/2013 | 03:21
The Dominican Republic has thrown out at least 244 Haitians after an elderly couple were murdered in an apparent burglary near the border between the two countries and a mob retaliated by killing a Haitian man.
The Rev Antoine Lissaint of Haiti's Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Organisation said a group of Dominicans killed the man because they blamed people of Haitian descent for the fatal stabbing of the couple.
Jose Mendez Diaz and Luja Encarnacion Diaz, both 70, were killed during a suspected break-in which the killers escaped with two sacks of coffee. Detectives found a knife and stick at the scene.
There was no comment from the Dominican government.
A group of Haitians who had been living in the south-western Dominican town of Neiba for the past few years sought refuge at a police station because they feared further reprisals, Mr Lissaint said. Police handed the group over to soldiers who drove them to the border and expelled them to Haiti.
Migrant advocates said some of the expelled people were eager to leave because they feared more mob violence.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic have a long history of acrimony as neighbours on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. But relations between the two have worsened since a Dominican court decision in September threatened to revoke citizenship for residents of the Dominican Republic with Haitian descent.
Jean-Baptiste Azolin, deputy co-ordinator for the Support Group for Repatriates and Refugees, said not all the people repatriated were picked up at the police station. "Some of them were caught in the streets, with their children, and were sent to Haiti - like that, without anything," he said.
Staff with the Haitian government's National Office of Migration greeted the expelled people, many of them mothers with their children, including a three-day-old boy. They were taken to a shelter north of the capital Port-au-Prince, where they received food and about £13.50 to help them return to their former Haitian towns.
"Some people (here) have their children in the Dominican Republic, and they don't know where they are," Fritz Jimani, one of the deported people, said.
Mr Azolin said the true number of people who were deported and those eager to leave could be more than the 244 initially reported. He said 252 people had arrived up at the shelter claiming to be among those expelled and there was a report that a Dominican bus carrying 75 more deportees was on its way to the border.
Salim Succar, an adviser to Haiti's prime minister Laurent Lamothe, said: "We have taken certain measures to welcome these people and disapprove of the way this repatriation was done."
Human rights advocates say the Dominican citizenship ruling could disenfranchise more than 200,000 people, many of whom have lived there for years or decades, stripping them of the documents they need to work and attend school and denying them passports needed to travel overseas.
The Dominican government says it has developed a plan to resolve the legal status of people who could lose their citizenship because of the ruling and details will be released once a decree is signed and takes effect in the coming days.