Human Rights

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Human Rights Advocate Sonia Pierre Dead at 48

  • Posted on: 5 December 2011
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Sonia Pierre, Dominican human rights activist of Haitian descent, has died of heart failure at the age of 48.  She was a passionate advocate for Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic – many of whom are stateless, not being recognized by the Dominican Republic or Haiti.  She will be missed.  The organization which she founded, El Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitiana or MUDHA, continues her work.  An article on her passing follows below.

Stranded: The Stateless Haitians

  • Posted on: 14 July 2011
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Imagine being born in a country that does not recognize you and the possibility of being deported to a country that you do not know.  This is the reality for many Dominicans of Haitian descent throughout the Dominican Republic.  Steve Sapienza’s documentary “Stranded: The Stateless Haitians” explores how Dominicans of Haitian descent struggle with government discrimination in the only country they have ever known.  Earlier blogs on statelessness in the Dominican Republic and on the complicated relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic are also available.  

U.S. State Department Releases 2010 Human Rights Report for Haiti

  • Posted on: 11 April 2011
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Each year, the U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor  is mandated to release country specific human rights reports that address individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2010 Human Rights Report for Haiti, attached and copied below, indicates much remains to be done.  Protecting human rights is a critical element of governance and one which the new administration must take on as institutions and infrastructure are reformed and reconstructed.   Protecting human rights will help Haiti become a country that is more fair and just for the whole population, not just the rich and powerful.

Interaction Releases Reports on Improving Protection and Preventing GBV in Haiti

  • Posted on: 3 November 2010
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Most agree that efforts to protect the safety, dignity and rights of the most vulnerable populations (women, children, the disabled, the elderly, etc.) in post earthquake Haiti could and should have been more effective. Women and children are still vulnerable to a range of protection threats including sexual abuse/exploitation and human trafficking.  Interaction, an advocacy group for American non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has released two reports, on improving protection and on preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV) respectively.  Both are thorough, well thought out, and are copied below.      

Haiti Water Challenge Launched at Clinton Global Initiative

  • Posted on: 23 September 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

At the opening plenary of the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, Water.org co-founders Matt Damon and Gary White announced a $2 million commitment to provide 50,000 people in Haiti with safe water and sanitation over the next three years. Water.org has also launched a social media campaign so that anyone can participate in meeting the water challenge in Haiti.  Click here to learn how you can become involved with either your time, financial support, or both.  

Child Slavery in Haiti: CNN Covers Jean Robert Cadet Foundation

  • Posted on: 16 July 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

"Timoun se moun" (children are people too).  In Haiti, far too many children are treated as less than people.  CNN's Sanjay Gupta recently travelled to Haiti to learn more about the restavek practice.  His blog is below.  All social problems have solutions, and while the attention of foreigners to this issue is welcome, lasting change must come from within.  One person fighting to bring about this change is Jean Robert Cadet, who was himself a restavek fourty years ago.  He has gone on to found the Jean Robert Cadet Foundation and has devoted his life to ensuring no one else experiences what he did.  Far from a victim, he is a hero and a change agent.

RFK Center Completes Advocacy Trip to the Dominican Republic

  • Posted on: 6 July 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Stateless in the DRKerry Kennedy of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Justice and Human Rights recently completed an advocacy mission to the Dominican Republic.  The racism against those with darker skin can be so intense that travelling there feels like going back in time.  Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent are routinely denied citizenship, making them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.  While meeting with government officials, Kennedy urged them to work with local human rights defenders such as Sonia Pierre, who despite winning the 2006 RFK Human Rights Award, has been treated not as a hero, but a threat.  Her trip summary is copied blow.  

State Department Releases 2009 TIP Report: Haiti and the DR

  • Posted on: 22 June 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Human trafficking is a global problem that affects every country in the world.  Last week, the U.S. State Department released its 2009 annual report on how well partner governments are preventing and responding to human trafficking. Understanding trafficking in Haiti requires understanding the situation in the Dominican Republic.  Neither country complies with minimum standards for eliminating trafficking, although both governments acknowledge the need to do more. This is an issue that clearly requires cross-border collaboration.

The Long Wait: Reproductive Health Care in Haiti

  • Posted on: 26 May 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. is a health research/consulting firm dedicated to improving the health of individuals and communities worldwide.  JSI visited Haiti in January 2009 to identify gaps in the availability and accessibility of reproductive health (RH) services and to assess community responses for strengthening quality, accessibility and availability.  Reproductive health is a social issue, a public health issue, a human rights issue, a security issue, and one that is important for countries that are fragile, stable, or in Haiti's case, teetering in between.  The report is attached and deserves to be widely read.

Stay with Me: An Evening of Hope for Haiti’s Restaveks (Friday, June 5)

  • Posted on: 23 May 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

It is a sad irony that child slavery still exists in the only country to have led a successful slave rebellion.  On June 5th, Beyond Borders and the Calvary Baptist Church in Washington DC will host an event to raise awareness (and possible solutions) for the restavek crisis in Haiti.  Sociologist and Pastor Dr. Tony Compolo will speak as well Alina Cajuste and Helia Lajeunesse.  Alina and Helia are former restaveks who went on to become members of grassroots movements against child exploitation.  Below are Alina and Helia's stories and a schedule for the event which is free and open to the public.  If you can participate, please register online

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