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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03SANTODOMINGO5786 2003-10-20 11:21:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Santo Domingo
Cable title:  

MFA LEGAL ADVISER ON REFUGEES, SOFA WITH KUWAIT,

Tags:   DR IZ KU MARR PREF PREL 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SANTO DOMINGO 005786 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR AND PRM; GENEVA FOR REFUGEE OFFICER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/09/2013
TAGS: DR IZ KU MARR PREF PREL
SUBJECT: MFA LEGAL ADVISER ON REFUGEES, SOFA WITH KUWAIT,
ARTICLE 98

Classified By: DCM Lisa Kubiske for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: MFA Legal Adviser Jorge Santiago told DCM
(then-Charge) Kubiske October 9 that his office will begin
full-time processing of a refugee case backlog before the end
of the year and will soon submit to UNHCR a list of needed
technical assistance and training for refugee contingency
planning. He also asked about any assistance the USG might
provide. DCM pressed Santiago for speedy conclusion of a
SOFA with Kuwait, in connection with Dominican troops
deployed in Iraq, but he expressed reservations about the
Kuwaiti-proposed text. Embassy followed up with further
explanation of the SOFA provisions. DCM also urged
ratification of the GODR-USG Article 98 agreement, which
Santiago said is awaiting receipt of comments from other
government branches and civil society. End summary.

Refugee Planning and Processing
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



2. (C) The MFA legal adviser, Ambassador Jorge Santiago, in a
meeting with DCM Kubiske (who was then Charge) and emboffs
October 9, said he has "reactivated" the interagency National
Commission on Refugees (CONARE), which he chairs. CONARE had
been "inoperative" under the previous administration
(1996-2000). He said UNHCR has recently agreed to provide
technical assistance and training for contingency planning
for potential massive refugee flows (Note: From Haiti or
Cuba. End note.). CONARE plans to meet "in a few days" to
agree on priorities for specific assistance/training
requirements to submit to UNHCR. (Note: In a previous
meeting with UNHCR reps, CONARE -- after strong urging --
agreed to submit this request by October 15. End note.)



3. (C) Santiago said his office has "three or four" lawyers
to deal with international legal issues in the MFA, the
presidency, and other agencies and is swamped with cases.
Nonetheless, he plans to hire a "qualified" person to review
refugee petitions full time and is currently recruiting. His
goal is to process 200 cases by the end of CY 2003. (Note:
Local UNHCR rep Sandrine Desamours had told us previously
there are "at least 100 cases" awaiting a CONARE decision.
End note.)



4. (C) The legal adviser said that in addition to UNHCR
assistance, CONARE would be interested in any USG support
that might be available. He said he had discussed this at
the Department during a recent visit to Washington, when he
also met with UNHCR. (Comment: Embassy will explore
possibilities. End comment.)

SOFA with Kuwait
- - - - - - - - -



5. (C) With regard to the proposed status of forces agreement
(SOFA) between Kuwait and the Dominican Republic in
connection with the approximately 300 Dominican troops
participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Santiago said
that Kuwaiti comments on the GODR's proposed revisions to the
draft text had been sent to the Dominican armed forces for
their consideration. Santiago posed several objections to
the Kuwaiti-proposed text. He also expressed interest in
more U.S. input to the negotiation. (Note: Embassy's
Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) chief, at a
follow-up meeting with Santiago on October 10, further
explained the SOFA provisions. End note.)



6. (C) DCM urged that the SOFA be concluded within days to
facilitate planned troop rotations, transit of TDY Dominican
personnel through Kuwait, and any casualties. She noted that
the three other Latin American nations participating in OIF
had already signed similar SOFAs. She emphasized that the
SOFA is a bilateral issue between Kuwait and the Dominican
Republic and strongly encouraged the GODR to accept the
Kuwaiti text.

Article 98 Agreement
- - - - - - - - - - -



7. (C) DCM urged prompt ratification of the Dominican
Republic's already-signed Article 98 agreement with the
United States. Santiago said he had advised President Mejia
to submit the agreement to Congress for ratification only
after comments on the text were received from the Supreme
Court, Congress, the Dominican Red Cross, and NGOs. These
opinions would then be attached to the agreement and sent to
the President, with a recommendation regarding ratification.
Santiago offered to send us a copy of a GODR interim internal
report on the agreement. DCM reiterated U.S. interest in
timely ratification. (Comment: We will follow up as
necessary to ensure this happens. End comment.)
HERTELL