The Open Society Justice Initiative expresses its deep condolences with the family, friends and colleagues of Sonia Pierre, the Dominican human rights defender who died suddenly on Sunday.
James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative said: “Sonia was a brilliant and courageous advocate. She campaigned tirelessly on behalf of Dominicans of Haitian descent, who face both continuing discrimination and economic hardship in the country of their birth.“
“Her warmth and energy in pursuit of justice for her community will be sorely missed. But the movement that she helped build will continue to pursue her vision: of a future in which the Dominican Republic ensures full rights for all its people.”
Sonia Pierre, who died of a heart attack at the age of 48, worked closely with the Open Society Justice Initiative on behalf of Dominicans of Haitian descent.
The organization she founded, the Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitianas (MUDHA) played a leading role in the historic ruling Yean and Bosico v. Dominic Republic by the Inter-American Court in 2005. The case was brought on behalf of two mothers of girls of Haitian descent who were unable to go to school because they had not been granted the required official documents.
The government of the Dominican Republic has yet to implement properly the court’s requirement that it end racial discrimination in the application of citizenship law, in accordance with international human rights law. Instead, it has for the past few years been refusing to issue birth certificates and national identity cards to people of Haitian descent, an issue which was the focus of Sonia Pierre's work in the days before her death.