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#1096: Dominican Republic slows deportations of Haitians (fwd)
Dominican Republic slows deportations of Haitians
02:23 p.m Nov 24, 1999 Eastern By Jennifer Bauduy
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Nov 24 (Reuters) - The flood of Haitian immigrants
summarily deported from the Dominican Republic has slowed to a trickle
since the two countries began talks on the divisive issue, Haitian
officials said on Wednesday. `The deportations have diminished in
intensity, but I can't say they have totally stopped,'' Carol Joseph,
director of Haiti's Office of National Migration (ONM), told Reuters.
Rights groups have estimated anywhere from 8,000 to 20,000 Haitians have
been rounded up and trucked over the Dominican-Haitian border this
month since the Dominican government responded angrily to an
Inter-American Human Rights Commission report criticising the country
for denying citizenship to the children of illegal Haitian immigrants.
But in recent days only scattered small groups have been carried
over the border by Dominican soldiers. ``I was on the frontier of
Anse-a-pitre and we noted that there were no deportations for Monday
and Tuesday,'' one Haitian migration officer said. Only four arrived in
another town. Some of the deported Haitians alleged brutal treatment by
the Dominican soldiers who picked them up. They said they were not given
a chance to contact friends, retrieve belongings or, in some cases,
obtain papers to prove they held Dominican citizenship. Haiti's
government protested the deportations. Haitian Foreign Minister Fritz
Longchamp and Dominican Foreign Minister Eduardo Latorre met in the
Dominican capital, Santo Domingo, on Tuesday to discuss the
deportations. Another meeting was scheduled for next week. Haiti and the
Dominican Republic share the Caribbean island Hispaniola, but have a
long history of cool relations, especially over the divisive immigration
issue. For generations, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have
travelled to the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic seeking work.
They provide a low-paid labour force for the Dominican sugar, coffee
and building industries but also form a reviled lower class.
An estimated 1 million to 1.5 million Haitians live in the Dominican
Republic, a nation of 8 million people.