The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights has announced that Wyclef Jean and Bono will receive the organization's 2009 Ripple of Hope Award. The award, which will be presented at the Center's annual dinner on November 18th, recognizes bold leadership demonstrated by the two honorees on humanitarian issues.
RFK Memorial Center
Kerry 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.
Imagine being born in a country that doesn't recognize you and the possibility of being deported to one that you don't even know. This is a very real possibility for individuals of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic. Being denied the right to nationality has serious implications ranging from denial of health care, the right to vote, or even the right to work and own property. Human rights activists in the DR such as Sonia Pierre have put their lives on the line to make things better. The issue is, thankfully, receiving more publicity than it ever has before. Below is an article by the New York Times which describes what statelessness is as well as a piece by Refugees International and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center which explains what can be done to remedy this situation.