Sonia Pierre was 13 years old when she was first arrested and threatened with deportation, for organizing a protest for the rights of sugar cane workers. She continued her struggle for the rights of marginalized people in the Dominican Republic (DR) right up until her sad and untimely death yesterday from a heart attack, at age 48.
Wednesday’s conference on statelessness and the right to nationality in the Dominican Republic (DR) saw presenters from many countries and fields of work join in a constructive dialogue.
This example of statelessness, caused by the retroactive loss of nationality rights for Dominicans of Haitian descent in the DR’s new constitution, has been a major source of civil strife. It has left many without access to their rights, and has shaken their most basic sense of who they are and where they belong.
Today, leaders from government, civil society, and the UN gathered at the US Institute of Peace to explore statelessness and its impact on women worldwide. The Institute's sparkling new headquarters played host to an insightful and inspiring discussion - a fitting kick-off for a week full of stateless advocacy here at RI.
“My son heard my husband knocking some nails into the wall and he actually thought this noise was me killing his father,” a Kuwaiti woman, whom I will call Mona, told me. I am currently in Kuwait with my Refugees International colleague, assessing the needs of this country’s stateless population.
“You’re in Sweden now,” the asylum seeker was told as he was dropped in a Latvian forest. The news marked yet another phase in one refugee’s search for safety. Latvia has been historically resistant to inbound migration. Although the country began receiving small numbers of asylum seekers in the late 1990s one human rights worker reminded me, “As a country we’re fairly new to this. Our asylum law meets minimum standards of the EU. The problem is how it is implemented.”