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7469: UNHRC hearing on DR - Haitian expulsions (fwd)

From: Merrie Archer <MArcher@nchr.org>

For second time this month, an international human rights body will examine
the Dominican Republic's abusive and illegal policy of expelling Haitians
and Dominicans of Haitian descent. On Thursday, March 22, Columbia Law
School's Human Rights Clinic and Amnesty International will brief the U.N.
Human Rights Committee (HRC) members about abuses by Dominican authorities,
in preparation for a hearing the following day in which the Committee will
consider the Dominican government's compliance with the International
Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Every five years government
parties must report on their compliance with the treaty, which went into
force 25 years ago on March 23, 1976. In a hearing before the Organization
of American States=92 Inter-American Human Rights Commission earlier this
month, the Columbia Clinic presented evidence that the illegal mass
expulsions of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent has not only
continued, but has actually increased under the Dominican Republic=92s new
President Hip=F3lito Mej=EDa. At the upcoming briefing before the HRC, the
Columbia Clinic will focus on the their recent fact-finding trips to the
Dominican Republic and Haiti, and will feature a video documenting the
abuses inherent in the practice of mass expulsions. The video, produced by
the Columbia Clinic and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights Witness
project (www.witness.org), will detail specific violations of international
norms by focusing on the individual stories of typical mass expulsion
victims. The students have also provided Committee members with a report on
the government's ongoing violations of international laws prohibiting racial
discrimination, deprivation of due process, and collective expulsions. In
its response to the last report by the Dominican Republic, the Committee
expressed concern about =93the lack of protection afforded to Haitians
living or working in the country from such serious human rights abuses as
forced labour and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.=94 It noted that
mass expulsions of Haitians represented a =93serious violation= =94 of
explicit human rights recognized in the ICCPR and stressed the importance of
ending the =93slave-like exploitation=94 of Haitian workers. The upcoming
meeting provides another opportunity to increase pressure on Dominican
officials to curb abuses. On March 23, HRC members will question
representatives of the State about the period under review and about steps
the government is taking to address continuing areas of concern. By the
close of the session, on April 16, the HRC will issue official comments on
the Dominican Republic=92s implementation of human rights. In the
Inter-American Commission proceeding, the Columbia Clinic is representing a
number of petitioners before the Inter-American Commission and the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR case 12.271). In a formal
pleading to be filed in late March, the Columbia Clinic, together with
co-counsel, will petition the Inter-American Commission for substantial
relief reaching all Haitian and Dominican workers who are at risk of being
arbitrarily expelled. Specifically, the advocates seek to have international
human rights bodies address the following concerns: * The Dominican
Republic=92s expulsion practice is inherently discriminatory, targeting
black persons and those presumed to be Haitian, which amounts to racial
profiling. * The mass expulsions of suspected Haitians are carried out
arbitrarily, with no advance warning, hearing, or opportunity for victims to
contact family members, collect their belongings, or prove their legal
status. * The practice of summarily expelling suspected Haitians on a mass
scale impacts cruelly upon the individual victims, especially women and
children, and often leads to the separation of entire families. Founded in
1998, Columbia=92s Human Rights Clinic represents a variety of human rights
victims around the world. In its case concerning the Dominican Republic, the
clinic works with co-counsel at the International Human Rights Law Clinic at
Berkeley (Boalt Hall), the Center for International Law and Justice in
Washington, D.C. (CEJIL), and the National Coalition for Haitian Rights
(NCHR) in New York. For further information contact Professor Catherine
Powell (212-854-5705) or Arturo Carrillo (212-854-5709) of the Human Rights
Clinic at Columbia Law School. 

Merrie Archer
Associate Director for
Programs and Development
National Coalition for Haitian Rights
275 Seventh Ave, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10001
(212) 337-0005, ext. 18
(212) 741-8749 fax