U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging legislators in the Dominican Republic to find a humanitarian solution to a fiercely debated court decision that could render thousands of people of Haitian descent stateless.
Ban spoke to the Caribbean country’s bicameral legislature a day after meeting with President Danilo Medina.
The Dominican Republic recently passed a law that would create a path to Dominican citizenship for the descendants of tens of thousands of migrants who came from neighboring Haiti. But human rights groups have said the law will likely exclude the majority of people born in the Dominican Republic to migrants, leaving them essentially stateless.
Ban asked that legislators keep working to protect the rights of all people and prevent what he called the “privatization of nationality.”
Senate President Reinaldo Pared objected to Ban’s statements, saying the Dominican government is trying to control a serious migration problem.
“It’s not true that we discriminate against Haitian citizens because of their race or color, and because of nationality issues,” Pared said.
He said the United Nations should help strengthen security at the Dominican Republic’s border with Haiti.
Ban is in the Dominican Republic following a visit to Haiti, where he launched a rural sanitation program to combat cholera. Some people in Haiti criticized Ban’s visit, pointing out that U.N. peacekeepers are widely considered responsible for introducing the disease that has killed more than 8,500 people and sickened about 700,000 in the impoverished country.