Human Rights Vigil: Stop State Sponsored Racism & Ethnic Cleansing in the Dominican Republic
An Open Letter to the American Sugar Refining Group
To the American Sugar Refining Group (ASR Group):
We are a group of citizens from many parts of the world who are concerned about the recent Dominican Court ruling which arbitrarily strips citizenship from thousands of families who previously lived and worked under the protection of the laws and of the Constitution of the Dominican state. We bring this issue to your attention because many of the families affected are employees or former employees of the American Sugar Refining Group.
On September 23, 2013, the Constitutional Tribunal of the Dominican Republic issued ruling TC168-13 which redefines Dominican citizenship as a privilege to be conferred to those with at least one parent born in the Dominican Republic prior to 1929. Immigrants and the descendants of immigrants born in the Dominican Republic after 1929 are no longer to be regarded as citizens.
As a result of this ruling, an unimaginable atmosphere of fear, exclusion, and intolerance pervades in many communities across the Dominican Republic, with citizens fearing being deported, being killed, or being labeled traitors to the state. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has documented many of these sentiments in a recent visit to the Dominican Republic in early December.
Other international organizations concerned with violations of human rights have condemned the ruling, among them, the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the Caribbean Community, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Robert Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. In an unprecedented act of solidarity, the world community has come together to hold elected officials of the Dominican Republic accountable and to request that the ruling be repealed so that all Dominicans can once again enjoy their unalienable rights of citizenship.
We urge the ASR Group, to add its voice to the assemblage of voices worldwide calling for an end to this conscienceless assault on human rights and human dignity. We are certain that the decision taken by the Dominican Tribunal is an affront to the core values outlined in your company's website:
“ASR Group was built on traditional family values. While we have grown and prospered, we still maintain a strong sense of those founding beliefs. They are the guiding principles behind our dedication to the communities where we work and live.”
We are confident that you will not betray your core values and continue to operate silently in an environment which makes a mockery of those values. Furthermore, there is the possibility that the situation will deteriorate to a point where your reputation and growth as a company can be compromised. Since your company acquired the land holdings in the Dominican Republic which previously belonged to Gulf and Western, there has been notable improvements in the working conditions of the laborers on the sugar cane plantations. We commend your company's efforts to implement your stated goals of corporate social responsibility:
ASR Group is committed to understanding the health and safety, environmental, labor, and human rights issues associated with our supply chains.
ASR Group’s policy is to purchase goods and services that:
are produced and delivered under conditions that uphold fundamental human rights;
do not involve the abuse or exploitation of any persons;
are grown, produced, manufactured and sold in accordance with the laws of the country of origin; and
minimize negative impacts on the environment.
We urge you to continue to fulfill your stated commitments. We also urge you to consider issuing a public condemnation of the Constitutional Tribunal's ruling. As one of the largest employers in the Dominican Republic, your actions and your opinions weigh heavily. You have considerable leverage on matters pertaining to public policy and the upholding of the rights of others. Please exercise your influence to assure a more humane workplace for your employees and a less discriminatory environment for all citizens of the Dominican Republic.
A Group of Concerned Citizens of the World 12/18/2013