Tension grows at the Haitian-Dominican border

CESFRONT is a military body deployed in 2007 along the north-south Dominican border. One of the goals it aimed at when it was created was to secure the Dominican border against Haitians who try to cross to the other side by illicit means. Among those illicit means we could name the "services" of Haitian "buscones" (people traffickers) who, in collusion with their Dominican counterparts, wait for migrants on the other side of the border to show them to their destinations. 

Another reason to place this military body on the border was to fight corruption, an evil that affects a huge part of Dominican society, civil servants for the most part, particularly soldiers who were on duty before the inception of CESFRONT (and some civilian customs and migration officers). However, ever since its arrival in Dajabon, CESFRONT has never stopped taking random measures which were reported straight away. Thanks to this reports certain irregularities stopped, although things haven't fundamentally changed. 

Haitians suffer extortion from some members of CESSFRONT who frequently demand or accept money to let them through into the Dominican Republic. They coerce and violate the rights of Haitians who visit Dajabón Dominica market, of those who try to find a job in the Dominican Republic and even of students who cross the border legally. Coercions vary from psychological violence (insults) and physical violence (beatings, blows with the butt of a rifle, slapping, etc.) to sexual abuse and homicide. 

After the arrival of CESFRONT there has been an increase in random detentions at the border and the rights of Haitian citizens have been subsequently violated. 

Life is worth nothing at the border. Anything can happen any time, since a huge part of the Dominican authorities shows no respect for Haitians. The actions of CESFRONT make this point clear. They are intolerant towards Haitians and don't hesitate to beat or even shoot them to take their money. 

Army members are trained to defend their country. Therefore, it is reasonable to think that one of the reasons behind the disproportionate actions of those securing the border is the fact that this task has been entrusted to the military instead of the Migration Office, who in turn should be protected by a body of properly trained border policemen. Borders may be secured, but no one has the right to shoot an unarmed civilian, no matter what his/her nationality may be. 

Ouanaminthe (Haiti) and Dajabón civilian societies should get together to say NO to disproportionate military measures, NO to corruption within CESFRONT members and other officers and they should make sure justice is applied. 

The Jesuit Refugee Service, also known as Border Solidarity (SFW/SJRM) demands that a rigorous investigation is carried out on the actions of CSFRONT agents since its arrival to this date. SFW/SJRM estimates that the suffering and humiliations Haitians in the Dominican Republic have to endure are a consequence of the Haitian State's shortcomings on binational relationships, migration policies and the lack of a society project focused on sustainable development, education, health and work  among other factors , so that Haitians can contribute to the development of their own country, and are satisfied with their way of life. 

We hope the Haitian State as well as the Dominican State, in cooperation with civilian organizations and  citizens of the two neighbouring countries can work together to achieve good binational relationships and the development of both countries and their inhabitants. 

Source: JRSM Dominica Republic