PHILIPSBURG:--- In a heartfelt appeal letter addressed to the Minister of Justice Anna Richardson, and co-copied by the council of ministers and the Parliament of Sint Maarten, Fabio Doralice, Interim President of the Haitian Association of Sint Maarten (HASMA), is urging the Government of Sint Maarten to temporarily halt the forced returns of Haitian nationals a midst the dire humanitarian crisis currently engulfing Haiti. This initiative has garnered widespread support from members of parliament, union leaders, religious leaders, and concerned citizens. An online petition has been launched to further emphasize the pressing need for compassionate action.
Haiti is presently facing a complex crisis marked by rampant gang violence, political instability, and severe shortages of basic necessities. Millions of Haitians find themselves in desperate circumstances, uncontrolled gang violence, kidnapping, torture, and lack of access to food, clean water, and shelter. International organizations, including the United Nations, have called upon nations to suspend forced returns of Haitian nationals and implement measures to protect their well-being. The urgency of this appeal is underscored by the recent statement from the UN Acting Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and other international bodies.
In a recent statement, Fabio Doralice underscored the pressing urgency of this appeal, emphasizing that while he wholeheartedly respects and encourages adherence to immigration laws, there are instances where compassion and the fundamental principles of human rights must take precedence. The current crisis engulfing Haiti, which has directly affected our own community, calls for a more considerate, compassionate, and tailored approach to deportations. Mr. Doralice also drew attention to a tragic incident involving a born and raised Sint Maartener who was deported to Haiti, a country he never knew, and subsequently lost his life in the midst of the rampant violence plaguing Haiti. This heart-wrenching event highlights the very real dangers facing deportees in Haiti. Additionally, HASMA, [the association] is diligently working to verify reports concerning two more individuals who were recently deported and, tragically, met untimely fates while en route to their respective villages. These distressing incidents serve as poignant reminders of the critical necessity for immediate compassionate action.
Mr. Doralice's words resonate with a profound sense of moral duty, echoing the deep interconnection between the Americas and the broader Caribbean region. Haiti holds a significant place in history as the first independent black nation. Its legacy of breaking the chains of colonialism and then moving on to physically helping and inspiring countless other nations toward freedom emphasizes the call for solidarity during these times of dire need.
The appeal emphasizes the legal, humanitarian, and regional obligations that bind Sint Maarten, as a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, to protect the rights and well-being of all individuals, regardless of their origin. In addition to the legal framework, the interconnectedness of Sint Maarten with the Caribbean region underscores the importance of collective support during times of crisis.
Mr. Doralice's impassioned plea to halt the forced return of Haitian nationals transcends mere humanitarian concern, it aligns closely with the recommendations and warnings issued by reputable international organizations. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and others like the Organization of American States (OAS), The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) have all underlined the urgency of preventing forced returns under the current dire circumstances. These authoritative voices have issued statements and even resolutions to underscore the critical need for action. In adhering to these global standards and respecting the principles of human rights, Sint Maarten has the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to a compassionate and responsible approach during this humanitarian crisis.
The petition has garnered letters of support from various factions within and outside of parliament. Both the Democratic Party and the Party for Progress, along with Independent Members of Parliament MP Solange Ludminda Duncan, have officially issued letters of endorsement for the petition.
It is also crucial to recognize that Haitian migrants residing in Sint Maarten have established themselves as diligent, law-abiding members of our community. They are known for their strong work ethic, minimal involvement in criminal activities, and peaceful coexistence as good neighbours and fellow residents. Their presence has been a source of enrichment and positive contribution to our society.
By temporarily suspending the deportation of Haitian nationals, Sint Maarten can contribute to safeguarding the basic rights and dignity of individuals who have found a new home within its borders. This compassionate response aligns with international commitments, shared history, and the enduring spirit of solidarity that binds the Americas and the wider Caribbean region.
HASMA and Mr. Doralice trust that the Government of Sint Maarten will recognize the urgency of this matter and respond with the compassion and humanity that the current humanitarian crisis in Haiti demands.