Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Discrimination in the Dominican Republic

Did you know that discrimination against people of Haitian descent (Dominico-Haitians) is hindering the lives and rights of thousands in the Dominican Republic? What if I told you the Dominican government isn’t doing anything to stop it, but rather, is promoting policies that would strip these individuals of their citizenship…

Hi there, it’s Carlos Quesada, Global Rights’ Racial and Ethnic Equality Program director, with some important news to share.  

Over the past decade, legal Haitian immigrants have been the backbone of the sugarcane, construction and service industries in the Dominican Republic. However, deep rooted racism has denied Dominicans of Haitian descent basic economic and social rights such as legal employment, education, access to social services and even marriage.  Most recently, this racism has been fueled by the Dominican government’s efforts to deny Dominican nationality to individuals of Haitian descent.  This process violates the American Convention on Human Rights, to which the government of the Dominican Republic is a party.

Last week, I accompanied our partner, the Jacques Viau Network—a group of organizations that advocates for the rights of Haitians and Dominico-Haitians in the Dominican Republic– to the  82nd Session of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD) in Geneva, Switzerland. There, I worked with members Maria Martinez and Manuel Dandre from the Movimiento Socio-Cultural de Trabajadores Haitianos and William Charpantier from Fundacion Etnica Integral preparing their brief to committee members on the situation of Dominico-Haitians.

Maria Martinez at UN CERD
Our partners presented the following recommendations to the committee for their official report to the Dominican government to address this serious human rights violation:
  • Recognize the existence of racial discrimination in the country
  • Stop the denationalization  process of Dominico-Haitians
  • Include specific data in the census on race and gender
  • Stop mass expulsions of Haitians and Dominico-Haitians
  • Appoint a human rights official in the country to investigate human rights concerns
We urge the UN CERD to consider these recommendations in their final report to the Dominican government, which must be held accountable to their duty to protect the human rights of all their citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity. Input and pressure from the UN CERD are critical steps in ensuring this accountability.
I look forward to keeping you updated on the process.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Rise Up for Women

It comes as no surprise that the rights of women are a significant focus of our activities. At Global Rights, we believe that all women, regardless of race, class or nationality deserve the same opportunities—and the same protection from violence. We know that true societal change only occurs when everyone’s rights are addressed, defended and insured.

That is why we work to empower women in some of the toughest places it is to be a woman.

  • In Afghanistan, where opportunities are far and few, we are committed to ensuring that women are safe from violence. Through our Legal Advice Bureaus  run by our Afghan partners, we are showing women how to access the justice system in five Afghan provinces. Global Rights has created an environment in which even the most marginalized women can ask questions and voice concerns about their rights, and file cases to defend those rights.

Legal assistance training workshop in Morocco
with our partner, Association Amal
  • For the past 12 years, Global Rights has also been working alongside 10 Moroccan women’s organizations, providing them with the tools and skills they need to teach women about their human and legal rights, and developing strategies to articulate and demand those rights. Currently, our Moroccan partners are spearheading efforts to push their government to adopt a specific violence against women (VAW) law. Domestic violence is pervasive in Morocco and a specific VAW law would legally grant women proper protection. If passed, it would be the first of its kind in the Arab world.
  • In some of the most underserved regions of Nigeria and Uganda, Global Rights works alongside local human rights and women’s organizations to ensure that women are protected from human rights violations under the law. Click here to hear our Nigerian partner, the Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative, discuss how they are putting a stop to violence against women and children.  
  • In the first program of its kind in Burundi, Global Rights is coordinating an effort with our Burundian partners to bring high-impact strategic litigation to the courts for victims of gender-based violence.  In Burundi, there is currently no movement to promote the legal rights of victims of violence and to help them secure justice in court. Through strategic litigation, a change in the practice and policy of Burundi’s prosecutors in weighing evidence of gender-based violence is designed to increased prosecution of these crimes in the future.

  • In Brazil, Colombia and Peru, we know that women of African descent are more susceptible to discrimination and human rights violations, and particularly, violence. We’re working alongside some of the most dedicated Afro-descendant organizations in South America to help them with their struggle for equal rights. Click here to read more about the recent work of our Brazilian partner, Articulação de Mulheres Negras do Brasil (AMNB). 

As you can see, Global Rights continues to grow our network of advocates and activists to help women assert and defend their inherent rights around the world— a world in which we strive for all, regardless of gender, ethnicity or background, to achieve their full potential.


Posted by Susan M. Farnsworth