A soldier from the Dominican Republic speaks from behind a cutout in the door of the DR's embassy with a Haitian demonstrator protesting the DR's new law that denies citizenship to the children of Haitian migrants living in the Dominican Republic, in Petion-Ville, Haiti, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. In September, the Dominican Republic's Constitutional Court ruled that it will block citizenship for thousands of people born to immigrants without residency permits since 1929. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
GEORGETOWN, Guyana – A grouping of 15 Caribbean nations is criticizing a court ruling in the Dominican Republic that strips citizenship from the children of migrant workers.
Last month, the Dominican Republic's Constitutional Court ruled that it will block citizenship for people born to immigrants without residency permits since 1929. Activists say it would affect more than 200,000 people, nearly all of them Dominican-born people of Haitian descent.
Late Thursday, the Guyana-based secretariat of the Caribbean Community said the ruling renders tens of thousands of people "stateless in violation of international human rights obligations." It calls on the Dominican government to protect the rights of "those made vulnerable by this ruling and its grievous effects."
Haiti is a member of the Caribbean Community. The Dominican Republic has declared its intention to join.
The Haitian government had been mostly silent on the court decision that threatens to render hundreds of thousands of people stateless but announced this week that it was recalling its ambassador to the Dominican Republic.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs deeply regrets that Haitians and their Dominican descendants who have contributed significantly to the current progress of the Dominican Republic for their work and sacrifice are now treated as foreigners in transit," the statement said.
Haiti's foreign affairs ministry claimed that the court decision violates several international laws and agreements, including a 2005 decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
It also urged Dominican authorities to address in an "objective and fair manner" the role of Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic.
The court ruling has aggravated already uneasy relations between the two countries, which share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Tensions between the neighbors worsened this summer when the Haitian government imposed a ban on Dominican chicken and eggs, citing a false report that the Dominican Republic had avian flu.
Haitian officials acknowledged the error but have kept the ban in place for reasons they haven't fully explained.
Dominican officials have promised to create a path to legal residency for those whose birth certificates are voided, but have provided no details on how that might work.