Monday, June 3, 2013

Death of Haitian Migrant Denounced in Dominican Republic

Immigration agents in the Dominican Republic have been accused of savagely assaulting and killing a Haitian migrant last month.

Thirty-one-year old carpenter Jean Robert Lors died in hospital on the 23rd of May, nine days after he was reportedly beaten up during an immigration raid in the Dominican Republic.

According to Meles Lors, brother of the deceased, the operation was carried out in a “violent” manner in the predawn hours.  Meles claimed that Jean Robert was beaten up by “immigration agents along with the Dominican police” using the butt of their rifles and kicking him while he lay defenseless on the ground.

“When I saw my brother on the floor all swollen with bruises I asked the agents to let me take him to the hospital.  They instead put me in handcuffs,” said Meles.

Onil Ruiz, spokesman for the Coalition of Haitian Migrants in the Dominican Republic (CHMDR), claimed that other detainees during the raid interceded and were able to convince officers to take Jean Robert to the hospital.  Doctors diagnosed Jean Robert with numerous cranial and spinal injuries before he died of a heat attack.

The tragic case of Jean Robert Lors comes days after Marlene Antoine, a Haitian woman married to a Dominican man, alleged that her son “slipped and split his head open while guards threatened” them at the Haina Detention Center.

The CHMDR have called on Dominican authorities to investigate the circumstances surrounding Lors’ death and urged the immigration officials to enforce the proper protocol during raids and repatriation of undocumented Haitians.

A representative for Amnesty International in the Dominican Republic also called on a thorough investigation:

“It is necessary for those responsible for (Jean Robert’s) death to be submitted to justice so that these situations will never be repeated, said Javier Zúñiga Mejía Borja.
“Dominican NGOs, who work for the rights of Haitian migrants, constantly denounce the mass deportations of Haitian migrants since they are against international human rights norms and because detainees have no right to appeal,” added Borja.
The migration of Haitians across the border into the Dominican Republic has long been a sensitive issue between both countries, especially after a major earthquake in January 2010 rocked areas of Haiti. 

Authorities estimate some 800,000 undocumented Haitians live in the Dominican Republic with most of them believed to have left due to crushing poverty.

Several South American countries such as Brazil have faced an influx of thousands of Haitian migrants since the deadly 2010 tremor devastated areas such as Port-au-Prince.

Video Source– YouTube via PBS (Uploaded on Apr 11, 2011).

Online Sources – Noticias SIN; LAHT; People’s Daily Online;; El Dia; Jamaica Observer

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