The following letter-to-the-editor originally appeared in the New York Times. Indira Goris is program officer for the Equality and Citizenship Program of the Open Society Justice Initiative; Julia Harrington is senior legal officer for the Equality and Citizenship Program of the Open Society Justice Initiative.
To the Editor:
Re: "A Rights Advocate Whose Work Divides Dominicans" (The Saturday Profile, Sept. 29, 2007):
Your timely coverage of Sonia Pierre's story underscores the need for the United States and the United Nations to do more to end the Dominican government's racist discrimination against Dominicans of Haitian descent.
We have just returned from a fact-finding trip and can attest to the tens of thousands of Dominicans like Ms. Pierre who are being denied citizenship by their own country because their ancestors came from Haiti.
Effectively stateless, these people are systematically barred from schools, denied health care, prevented from voting, and refused official documents like birth certificates and driver's licenses.
The Inter-American Court for Human Rights has ruled that Dominicans of Haitian descent must be given the full rights of Dominican citizenship, yet the Dominican government refuses to comply. The international community must put pressure on the Dominican government to end its racist policies.