OAS General Assembly: Race and Equality to dialogue with civil society and experts on racial discrimination, gender-based violence and hemispheric security

OAS General Assembly: Race and Equality to dialogue with civil society and experts on racial discrimination, gender-based violence and hemispheric security

Washington D.C., June 14, 2024 – Ahead of the 54th session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race & Equality) is reaffirming its commitment to the defense of human rights in the region by holding three parallel events. The first event, the Inter-American Forum against Discrimination, which has been part of the institutional calendar since 2005, will bring together leaders from different countries for a dialogue on reparations and the main demands of the Afro-descendant, indigenous and LGBTI+ population. The second event will address the human rights crisis in Nicaragua and international financial support; and the third event, coordinated by the Latin American Human Rights Consortium, will bring together key actors from different countries to discuss human rights as a pillar of hemispheric security in the Americas. 

The OAS General Assembly will be held from June 26 to 28 at Conmebol, located in the city of Asuncion, Paraguay, under the theme “Integration and Security for the Sustainable Development of the Region”. For Raza e Igualdad, the OAS General Assembly is a space for broad dialogue and exchange of best practices of civil society in the region, as well as an opportunity to strengthen its demands by listening to delegations from Member States and its Secretariat. In this way, the parallel events achieve the purpose of effective political advocacy before this international human rights mechanism. 

Inter-American Forum against Discrimination

This year, the Inter-American Forum against Discrimination will be held on Tuesday, June 25, and will consist of four sections with the following themes: “The role of human rights protection systems in the reparation of different groups discriminated against in the region”; “Experiences of reparation in the region and its scope in relation to racialized, mobile or displaced groups, sexual, religious, linguistic, political minorities, among others”; “Reparation in the context of gender”; and, finally, the section “The ethnic population and the 54th Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly”.

The opening panel of the Forum will feature Gloria De Mees, OAS Rapporteur on the Rights of People of African Descent and against Racial Discrimination. In the following panels, leaders from the region will join the debate with information about their contexts and their struggles for reparations, restitution and guarantees of non-repetition. In addition, in the context of gender reparations, several activists will present and discuss the implications of the general recommendation of the Follow-up Mechanism of the Belém do Pará Convention (MESECVI) on Afro-descendant women. 

The annual Forum will also discuss the strengthening of the Afrodescendant Coalition of the Americas and the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI). 

To participate, register here: https://tinyurl.com/2fx7uc29  

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International financial support to Nicaragua despite democratic and human rights crisis

On Tuesday afternoon, June 25, Raza e Igualdad will bring together experts from the OAS, academia and civil society to discuss the responsibility of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) in relation to crimes against humanity and human rights violations in Nicaragua. It will also analyze the strategic relevance of these institutions in the use of human rights due diligence to address the negative impacts of their development projects. 

In a regime historically marked by systematic human rights violations, the continuity of international financial support brings to light several questions from civil society. From 2018 to the present, the authoritarian regime of Daniel Ortega, Rosario Murillo and their followers have carried out widespread and systematic attacks against the Nicaraguan civilian population in opposition for political reasons. Since 2021, the democratic and human rights crisis has significantly worsened. On February 9, 2023, 222 people were released from prison, then banished to the United States and arbitrarily stripped of their nationality and citizenship rights. Among the most vulnerable groups are human rights defenders, journalists, religious leaders, women, indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples, and LGBTI+ people.

However, the abundant evidence of the democratic and human rights crisis in Nicaragua was not enough for the International Financial Institutions to decide to change their strategy towards the country, strengthen their human rights due diligence, or suspend and/or cancel the implementation of their projects in the country. In February 2024, the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank Group and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration supported 97 projects in the execution phase in Nicaragua, with the approval of US$5,082.43 million, according to information available on their websites. Of these, 57 projects were approved for a total of US$2,784.43 million, following the onset of the crisis in 2018.

To participate, register here: https://tinyurl.com/57r4b22m

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Human Rights as a Pillar of Hemispheric Security in the Americas

The Latin American Human Rights Consortium – formed by Race & Equality, Freedom House and the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) – will hold the event “Human Rights as a Pillar of Hemispheric Security in the Americas” on Wednesday, June 26. This event aims to highlight human rights violations in Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Venezuela as a driver of the debate on security in the region. In these countries with insecure and repressive contexts, inequalities are generated in terms of freedom and security with a differential effect on the most vulnerable groups, such as Afro-descendants, women, children, LGBTI+ population and people deprived of liberty for political reasons.

Thus, new concerns and challenges, including the political, social, economic, environmental and human rights situation of OAS Member States, have led this organization to redefine its understanding of hemispheric security. Thus, on October 28, 2003, the States of the Americas promulgated the “Declaration on Security in the Americas”, proposing a new concept of multidimensional security that recognizes that the objective of hemispheric security is the “protection of human beings”.

In its declaration, the OAS considered that “representative democracy is an indispensable condition for the stability, peace and development of the States of the Hemisphere” and that it is “the responsibility of the specialized forums of the OAS, as well as inter-American and international forums, to develop cooperation mechanisms to confront these new threats on the basis of the applicable instruments”. 

In this context, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR, Pedro Vaca; the Deputy Director of the Program for Latin America and the Caribbean of Freedom House, Alejandra Argueta; the lawyer of the organization Cubalex, Alain Espinoza; the legal professional of the Legal Defense Unit of Nicaragua, Arlette Serrano; the Venezuelan journalist from Voces de la Memoria, Victor Navarro; and the co-founder of the association Tracoda (Transparency, Social Controllership, Open Data) from El Salvador, Luis Villatoro, will discuss strategies to strengthen the security and protection of the population and human rights defenders, among the current challenges faced by authoritarian regimes in the Americas. 

To participate, register here: https://tinyurl.com/537cdu3w  

 

More information about the events 

Inter-American Forum against Discrimination

Date and time: Tuesday, June 25, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Asunción and Washington D.C.) / 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (Brasilia time)

Location: Dazzler Hotel, Aviadores del Chaco avenue

Live broadcast via Zoom and Facebook Live @RaceandEquality

Registration: https://tinyurl.com/2fx7uc29  

Simultaneous interpretation in Spanish, Portuguese and English.

 

International financial support to Nicaragua despite democratic and human rights crisis

Date and time: Tuesday, June 25th, 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (Asuncion and Washington D.C.) / 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (Brasilia time)

Location: Dazzler Hotel, Avenida Aviadores del Chaco

Live broadcast via Zoom and Facebook Live @RaceandEquality

Registration: https://tinyurl.com/57r4b22m  

Simultaneous interpretation in Spanish, Portuguese and English.

 

Human Rights as a Pillar of Hemispheric Security in the Americas

Date and time: Wednesday, June 26th, 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (Asunción and Washington, D.C.) / 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (Brasilia time)

Location: Hotel Esplendor, Avenida Aviadores del Chaco

Live broadcast via Zoom and Facebook Live @RaceandEquality

Registration: https://tinyurl.com/537cdu3w 

Simultaneous interpretation in Spanish, Portuguese and English.

On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, We Make an Urgent Call to Combat Religious Discrimination and Racism in the Americas

Washington DC, March 21, 2024.– As we commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) urgently calls on States to adopt measures to combat growing manifestations of religious discrimination and racism in the Americas, which significantly affect racialized population groups, such as Afro-descendants and Indigenous peoples.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, these groups face persistent challenges in expressing their sacred, ancestral, and cultural traditions without facing restrictions, stigma, repudiation, or violence. These reprisals include the persecution of members, as well as violence against places of worship and religious symbols associated with these traditions. Religious discrimination and racism can also manifest itself through stereotypes and prejudices that denigrate the beliefs and practices of these people, thus perpetuating their exclusion and marginalization.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) states that, in the case of the Afro-descendant population, their cultural identity encompasses the preservation of ancestral knowledge and the conservation of their historical legacy, so that traditions and beliefs such as the religions Lumbalú, Candomblé, Abakuá, Umbanda, Hoodoo, among others, which have their roots in Africa, are an intangible part of the heritage of the African diaspora and are part of the social process of resistance developed by enslaved people in the Americas.

In the case of Indigenous peoples, in terms of the right to freedom of religion or belief, the United Nations refers to a more diverse and complex spectrum of cultures and beliefs, since in line with their right to self-determination, Indigenous peoples are free to define and determine their own spiritual identity, according to the report “Indigenous Peoples and the Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief”, presented in October 2022 by the then-Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed.

“Many conceptualize spirituality as a ‘way of life’: the shaping of distinctive emotions, habits, practices or virtues, the modeling of distinct beliefs and ways of thinking, and a particular way of living and communicating. Spirituality is therefore related to the transcendent and is intrinsic to the everyday experiences and practices of Indigenous peoples. Beyond its uniqueness, Indigenous spirituality and culture are often based on community, identity, and relationships with traditional lands,” the report details.

A Growing Problem Rooted in Racial Discrimination

The fact that Afro-descendant and Indigenous populations are the most affected by religious discrimination and racism is intrinsically related to the racial discrimination and systemic racism that persists in the Americas. 

In the recent webinar “The Legacy of African Religious Practices and the Social Biases and Prejudices They Face”—organized by the Secretariat for Access to Rights and Equity of the Organization of American States (OAS) in the framework of the VII Week of People of African Descent in the Americas—representatives of civil society associated the rejection, persecution, and even criminalization of these practices to historical processes loaded with ignorance, stigmatization, and prejudice as they are not considered “civilized”.

The IACHR reports repeated denunciations of persecution and attacks against the life and integrity of leaders and practitioners of religions of African origin in different states of the region, as well as complaints of the destruction of temples and sacred spaces of Afro-descendant communities. In Brazil, Race and Equality is aware of cases of religious intolerance against religions of African origin that have triggered legal conflicts, with the disturbing result that practitioners have lost custody of their children.

In Bahia, the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Racial Equality registered 19 cases of religious racism between January and July 21, 2021, representing 65% of the total cases reported in 2020. Similarly, in Rio de Janeiro, the Commission to Combat Religious Intolerance (CCIR) received reports of 19 cases against religions of African origin, including two involving children, as of May of the same year.

On the other hand, in Mexico, a report by the organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reveals that Indigenous women in this country suffer more religious discrimination than their male relatives. Women who refuse to join the majority Roman Catholic faith face harassment and exclusion from the justice system, government benefit programs and services, and prenatal health care.

The report notes that although the Mexican Constitution guarantees freedom of religion or belief and other human rights to all its citizens, in practice, violations are common in certain regions: in particular, for Indigenous communities governed by the Law of Uses and Customs.

Standards in the Framework of International Law

Within the Inter-American System, the right to freedom of religion and belief is enshrined in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (Article III) and the American Convention on Human Rights (Article 12). Within the Universal Human Rights System, it is stipulated in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and has been further developed in the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, in 1981.

One of the most noteworthy Inter-American instruments on the subject is the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI), which states that States must prevent, prohibit, and punish any restriction or limitation on the use of people’s language, traditions, customs, and culture in public or private activities.

The “Study on Freedom of Religion and Belief: Inter-American Standards,” by the IACHR, unveils a broad framework for the protection of this right, where it also highlights instruments and jurisprudence applicable to Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples. It also points out the vulnerability of some groups, such as LGBTI persons, children and adolescents, human rights defenders, and persons deprived of liberty, and therefore provides an additional set of aspects of the right to freedom of religion and belief in relation to them.

A Call to Action

Race and Equality has integrated the fight against religious discrimination and racism into its lines of work. Since 2021, in Brazil, we have been developing a project aimed at promoting religious tolerance and the reduction of violence and discrimination against practitioners of Afro-descendant religions, through the strengthening of Afro-Brazilian organizations so that they can document cases of violence based on religious beliefs, prepare them for strategic international litigation, and foster a culture of respect for religious freedom, in addition to training entities so that they can provide legal support to victims of this scourge. Meanwhile, in Cuba, we are supporting the preparation of the report “Obstacles Faced by Leaders and Members of Afro-Cuban Religions in Cuba.”

Based on human rights principles, and considering that discrimination and religious racism are growing problems in the region, Race and Equality calls on the States of the Americas to adopt measures to address and contain it, one of the most vital being the ratification and implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance. In terms of monitoring, it is important to have statistics and qualitative information on the religious and cultural practices of people of African descent and Indigenous peoples. It is also important to promote information free of prejudices and stigmas regarding these practices and, of course, to sanction any action that hinders them and implies a violation of the human rights of their followers.

8M: Anti-racist force in the struggle for the rights of all women

Washington D.C., 8 March 2024.– Since its beginnings, the movement for the rights of women has been nutured by different perspectives, amplifying it’s vision and mission in different spheres of society. One of these is the anti-racist perspective the, despite encountering a series of obstacles to its full incorporation, it has been the basis for important contributions to the struggle.

This March 8, International Women’s Day, we at the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) want to highlight the anti-racist perspective, taking into account that sexism and racism are forms of oppression that are intertwined and uniquely affect women of different ethnic and racial backgrounds, and in the case of the Americas, Afro-descendant and indigenous women in particular.

We spoke with women leaders and activists from different parts of Latin America to hear from them about the importance of the anti-racist perspective in the struggle for women’s rights, their contributions to the feminist movement, and the challenges that persist at different levels to fully incorporate this vision into the work of defending and promoting women’s rights.

Racism as a detonator of multiple violence

“The anti-racist perspective in the struggle for women’s rights is necessary if we conceive of racism as a violence that permeates the system, state and social structures, the family, our bodies, and that causes violence to increase; that is, racism recognized as structural violence also replicates and reproduces multiple forms of violence,” reflects Patricia Torres Sandoval, an indigenous P’urhépecha woman and member of the general coordination of the National Coordinating Committee of Indigenous Women (CONAMI) of Mexico.

The anti-racist perspective within feminisms is essential because it understands that the category of women is much broader or more complex than just identifying ourselves as women, it encompasses everything that would be the visibilization of the situation and experiences of Afro-descendant women, indigenous women, trans women, brings the intersectional analysis that is to think of the multiple forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, class, migratory processes, etc.,” said Gilma Vieira da Silva, regional coordinator of the Afro-descendant Youth Network of Latin America and the Caribbean (REDJUAFRO).

Vieira da Silva adds that intersectionality cannot be thought of without an ethnic-racial context, and recalls that the concept was formulated by a woman of African descent: the American lawyer and academic Kimberly Crenshaw, who devoted much of her work to understanding structural gender inequality.

Gender-based violence is not individual

Torres Sandoval points out that indigenous women have contributed to the recognition of collective violence. She explains that the phrase “My body, my territory”-which has been appropriated as a slogan by the feminist movement-emerges from indigenous women as a way of saying that violating their bodies also violates the land and the territory. “As indigenous peoples and women we recognize ourselves as an integral part of the territory and of Mother Earth, contrary to the Western perspective where we are owners of the land,” she says.

For Gahela Cari, a trans indigenous feminist from the National Federation of Peasant, Artisan, Indigenous, Native and Salaried Women of Peru, feminism is essential for processes of change; however, she points out that it is not enough if it is not anti-racist. In her words, anti-racist feminism “takes a stand in the midst of a society with so many inequalities” and shows that, in addition to gender, other systems of oppression make it impossible to live with dignity.

“We have to open processes of listening, dialogue, collective construction. Even when we do not fully understand what the other person brings to the table,” she says about a necessary task in the feminist struggle to work from an anti-racist approach. In this sense, she highlights the importance of closing the way to authoritarian processes in the country, such as what is happening with the current political regime in Peru.

Educating in an anti-racist perspective, a dual task

In this sense, Fernanda Gomes, a social worker and member of Articulação Brasileira de Lésbica (ABL), from Brazil, questions the fact that they must constantly educate about the anti-racist perspective to people and groups that do not have this vision or even exclude it.

“It’s a big challenge because we waste time thinking about public policy, writing a manifesto, to educate these people. We have to constantly be saying ‘oh so-and-so, I’m not your teacher, Google it, ask a white friend of yours.’ The black women’s, lesbian and feminist movement is also an education movement. We’re educating white people all the time and it’s exhausting,” she asserts.

Contributions and challenges

Brisa Bucardo, a journalist from the Miskito people of Nicaragua, highlights the role that women’s movements have played in the context of the country’s Caribbean Coast, as they have not only provided fundamental support to women victims of violence, but have also led citizen complaints and strengthened women’s capacities both individually and collectively. In addition, they have dismantled ingrained concepts of violence historically justified under the label of “culture”.

In terms of contributions to the struggle for women’s rights, Dunia Medina Moreno, a woman of African descent and member of the Women’s Network of Cuba, highlights the role played by women of African descent in the promotion and defense of human rights, which has resulted in a more comprehensive protection of the rights of all people in their diversity of identities.

“We must create a feminism where all women fit, an intersectional feminism where all women fit and where we can cover all the dimensions of discrimination we experience,” said Leticia Dandre Pie, a human rights activist in the Dominican Republic and member of the Movement of Dominican-Haitian Women (MUDHA).

Despite the progress made in introducing an anti-racist perspective in the struggle for women’s rights, challenges persist for real integration that translates not only into more inclusive activism, but also into the formulation of more comprehensive public policies. “We know that militancy today has to be recognized as a job, our time that we put into the struggle has to be recognized, but many times Afro-descendant women receive very few resources, trans women, women with disabilities, indigenous women are also included,” says Gilma Vieira da Silva, from REDJUAFRO.

“There are many challenges to consider the anti-racist perspective in the State, in academia and in society in general. There is a general imaginary that still places Eurocentrism as the idea of the best, of aspiring to be this hegemonic white stereotype aimed at certain parameters of aesthetic beauty, but it not only exists in the general imaginary but also permeates institutions,” says Patricia Torres Sandoval, of CONAMI Mexico.

From “white feminism” to intersectionality

One of the great criticisms of early feminism, or what we can call “white feminism,” is that it universalized the experience of white women[1]. That is to say, that in the beginning the struggle of feminism was reduced only to the needs of women who, in one way or another, were in a situation of privilege.

The anti-racist perspective in feminism is crucial because it challenges that Eurocentric and androcentric vision that has permeated many academic fields and social movements through white feminism[2]. The racialized women who came to contest these standards have provided critical analyses from their situated experiences, questioning power structures and advocating for a fuller understanding of the intersections of race, gender, and class in the struggle against oppression.

In particular, they have challenged the homogenization of the category “woman” in feminist movements, pointing out that women’s experiences vary significantly according to their race, ethnicity, class and sexual orientation[3]. This intersectional approach has enriched understanding of the interconnections between different systems of oppression.

Did you know…?

There are instruments for the protection and promotion of rights with an anti-racist approach or with a gender-race perspective. Some of them are:

  1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): this is the international document that establishes the fundamental rights of all people without any discrimination based on race or gender, among others.
  2. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW): this is the international instrument that specifically addresses gender discrimination and takes into account the dimensions of race and other factors. It recognizes the intersectionality of discrimination faced by women.
  3. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD): this UN treaty prohibits racial discrimination in all its forms and promotes racial equality. Although it does not focus exclusively on the gender perspective, it recognizes the intersectionality of discrimination.
  4. Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: this convention, which was adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, highlights intersectionality and recognizes the importance of addressing discrimination based on gender and race.
  5. Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (Convention of Belém do Pará): this is the inter-American regional treaty that focuses on gender-based violence and recognizes the intersectionality of the forms of discrimination faced by women, including racism.
  6. ILO Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries: this is the convention that addresses the rights of indigenous peoples and recognizes the importance of addressing discrimination based on race.
  7. American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: it recognizes the right of indigenous women to the recognition, protection and enjoyment of all human rights without discrimination, establishing the duty of States to eradicate all forms of violence against indigenous women.
Recommendations

In order to achieve the effective integration of a racial perspective in policies and resolutions concerning women’s rights, States and human rights bodies should:

  • Formulate gender equality policies that explicitly include the intersectional perspective in the formulation of gender equality policies.
  • Promote diversity at all levels of leadership to reflect different experiences.
  • Implement educational programs that highlight the importance of understanding the complexities of intersectionality. In particular, promote awareness of the importance of intersectionality at all levels of government, as well as in judicial decision-making bodies, so that this perspective is replicated in their decisions.
  • Support and promote organizations working on the intersection of gender and race.
  • Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of policies, making sure to address multiple layers of discrimination.

 

 

[1]Parra, Fabiana (2021). Feminism will be anti-racist or it will not be. Joselito Bembé. Revista Político Cultural, nro. 2, p. 42, available in: https://www.memoria.fahce.unlp.edu.ar/art_revistas/pr.12875/pr.12875.pdf

[2] Curiel, Ochy (2007). Postcolonial critique from the political practices of anti-racist feminism. Nómadas, ISSN 0121-7550, ISSN-e 2539-4762, No. 26, p. 93, available in: https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=3997720

[3] Boddenberg, Sophia (2018). Indigenous and Afro-descendant women, intersectionality and decolonial feminism in Latin America.Búsquedas Políticas Magazine, University of Alberto Hurtado, available at: https://politicaygobierno.uahurtado.cl/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2018/06/sophia_boddenberg_mujeres_indigenas.pdf

Dominican Republic: Civil Society Delegation Present at The UPR Pre-Session

Geneva, March 4, 2024 – A Dominican civil society delegation participated in the Pre-session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) held on Friday, February 16, 2024, in Geneva, Switzerland, with the technical support of the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality). The delegation was composed of Maria Martinez (Movimiento Socio Cultural de Trabajadores Haiti, MOSCTHA), Manuel Dandre (Red de Encuentro Dominicano-Haitiano Jacques Viau, Jacques Viau Network), Rosalba Diaz (Comunidad de Lesbianas Inclusivas Dominicanas, COLESDOM), Roberto Acevedo (Observatorio de Derechos Humanos para Grupos Vulnerabilizados, ODH-GV) and Jenny Morón (Movimiento de Mujeres Domínico-Haitianas, MUDHA), who were accompanied by Elvia Duque, Senior Race and Ethnicity Program Officer at Race and Equality.

During a week in the Swiss city, the delegation also had the opportunity to conduct advocacy by meeting with representatives of United Nations agencies and representatives of diplomatic missions, where they shared information about discrimination faced by some population groups in the Dominican Republic, in violation of their human rights.

Jenny Morón, of MUDHA, explained the situation of statelessness which, according to civil society estimates, affects more than 209,000 people and which has worsened as a result of Law 169-14, to the point that there are currently four groups whose human rights are affected in one way or another: 1) those who due to their surname and phenotypical characteristics are not associated with the Haitian population and have all their rights; 2) people who initially belonged to Group 1 but the State took away their nationality in 2013 for identifying some link with the Haitian population; 3) those who have been registered in the so-called Special Book (Registration Book for children of non-resident foreign mothers); and 4) those born in Dominican territory but who do not have any documentation or designation of nationality.

Activist Manuel Dandre, of the Jacques Viau Network, shared his experience as a person affected by Constitutional Tribunal ruling 168-13, because despite being born in the Dominican Republic, at the age of 55 the State changed his documents after identifying links with the Haitian population. “Those of us who find ourselves in Groups 2 and 3 have partial or no access to basic rights such as education, employment, transit, etc., and we are afraid of legislative changes that continue to diminish our rights,” he said.

Human rights defender María Martínez, of MOSCTHA, emphasized the crisis faced by the Dominican State in the labor area, with women and the stateless population being the most affected. According to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, more than 95% of women in the country identify their workplaces as places of violence or harassment.

Likewise, activist Rosalba Diaz, from COLESDOM, highlighted that “the lack of legislation that guarantees protection to the LGBTI+ population has generated a great vulnerability of this population” emphasizing in her presentation “the constant cases of mutilation, stigma, and other cases of human rights violations faced by the intersex population even from a very young age, as well as the judicial patterns that undermine the custody rights of lesbian mothers in the Dominican Republic.”

Meanwhile, Roberto Acevedo, of ODH-GV, exposed the lack of access to employment and discrimination suffered by people with HIV/AIDS, because despite the existence of Law 135-11 – which provides for the privacy of information on HIV diagnosis – public institutions perform laboratory tests as part of the process of pre-selection of candidates for jobs, resulting in not employing people who test positive even if they have the necessary skills.

The delegation made a positive balance of the visit because in addition to making visible the crisis that the country is experiencing due to racist, xenophobic, and discriminatory policies, as well as positioning its recommendations, it served to warn about Law 1/2024, which creates a centralized body of the State, with the aim of protecting the interests of the nation and assessing internal and external threats against it. Civil society considers that this law generates the necessary tools to support the State in its work of criminalizing activists and human rights defenders, therefore, the delegation made a strong call to demand its repeal.

In addition, upon the return of the delegation to the Dominican Republic, the approval of Resolution No. 13, dated February 17, 2024, on the processing of birth registration of children of foreigners born in the Dominican Republic, was announced. After a few days of evaluation of this Resolution, at first glance it appears to be a possible solution to several of the issues addressed by this delegation in Geneva regarding the situation of statelessness, but upon a deeper analysis it generates concern because it does not benefit the population in condition of statelessness as it establishes the presentation of documents that they do not possess.

Below, we highlight some of the recommendations presented by this delegation during its advocacy tour at the UPR pre-session in Geneva:

  • Promote the creation of a technical roundtable to accompany, review, and implement the recommendations made in the UPR, with the participation of civil society, a member state of the Council, international organizations, and the Dominican State.
  • Promote a national law on equality and non-discrimination that prosecutes, criminalizes, and punishes racism and discrimination in all its forms.
  • Motivate the State to modify and/or eliminate any legislation, sentence, or provision that is not aligned with international treaties and agreements for the protection of human rights.
  • Motivate the State to sign, ratify, and implement the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI).
  • Prevent statelessness by creating clear, free, and expeditious mechanisms to benefit the victims of Judgment 168.13, given that Law 169.14 has not solved the problem caused by Judgment 168.13. In addition, ratify the 1954 Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
  • Sensitize the authorities to avoid the criminalization of migration and to eliminate the policy of arrest, deportation, and expulsion based on racial profiling. In addition, take the necessary measures to ensure that no Dominican person is expelled from the national territory because of his or her skin color or descent.
  • Promote interculturality in the field of education and in the media.
  • Promote the protection of the human rights of women and girls in vulnerable situations.
  • Create legislation that integrates the benefits of Conventions 156, 190, and 189.
  • Promote and encourage the social integration of vulnerable groups (people living with HIV/AIDS, drug users) so that they can contribute to their community.
  • Motivate the elaboration and promulgation of the regulations for the application of Law 135-11 on HIV/AIDS, which 12 years later still does not have this important legal instrument.
  • Promote the strengthening of the role of the Ombudsman to promote and defend human rights regardless of gender, nationality, and creed.

Race and Equality thanks MUDHA, COLESDOM, and ODH-GV for obtaining their resources and joining the delegation initially composed of MOSCTHA and the Jacques Viau Network, and invites them to continue building together strategies to counteract the harsh reality that some populations live in the Dominican Republic. We also reiterate our commitment to fight against the different discriminations existing in this country hand in hand with the member organizations of the Jacques Viau Network and the NGO coalition CODHAJUR.

 

Pictured (from left to right): Elvia Duque (Race and Equality), María Martínez (MOSCTHA), Manuel Dandre (Jacques Viau Network), Rosalba Díaz (COLESDOM), Roberto Acevedo (ODH-GV), and Jenny Morón (MUDHA), in Room XXII, Building E of the United Nations. Geneva, Switzerland.

Race and Equality and Colombian Congress Members Join Efforts to Promote the Ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against Racism

Colombia, november 16, 2023. The Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race and Equality) organized a breakfast meeting to discuss the Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) with representatives from the Afro-Colombian Legal Commission and the Office of the Vice President of the Republic. During the activity, the Afro-Colombian Legal Commission committed to making all necessary efforts to promote the ratification of the Convention in the country. Race and Equality, in turn, pledged to provide technical assistance to promote the ratification of the international instrument by the Colombian state. 

The discussion addressed the current political context in Colombia, with a special emphasis on the significant representation of Afro-descendant individuals in the Congress of the Republic. Additionally, it highlighted the historic milestone of having the first Afro-descendant vice president in the country, underscoring the need to reach consensus on the adoption of normative instruments to eradicate racial discrimination and all forms of intolerance. 

 Moreover, a comprehensive analysis was conducted regarding the presence of racism in all sectors of society, including the Congress of the Republic and racialized communities. The need to undertake efforts leading to the eradication of systemic and structural racism was emphasized.
 

Among the identified points to promote the ratification and implementation of the CIRDI, the need for the Afro-Colombian Legal Commission to join forces to jointly drive this initiative was highlighted. It is important to invite all relevant stakeholders, such as the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to participate in the discussion. 

The event featured the participation of Cristóbal Caicedo Ángulo, President of the Afro-Colombian Legal Commission, James Hermenegildo Mosquera Torres, Representative to the Chamber from Chocó-Antioquia, Dorina Hernández Palomino, Representative to the Chamber for the department of Bolívar, Gerson Lisimaco Montaño Arizala, Representative to the Chamber for the department of Nariño, etc.
 

The ratification of the CIRDI is a fundamental step to strengthen the commitment of the Colombian Government to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as the fight against structural racism and racial discrimination. 

 

 

LGBTI+ Rights in Brazil: Impressions After the Visit of Roberta Clarke, IACHR Rapporteur

Brazil, October 9th, 2023 – In a promotional visit to Brazil facilitated by the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality), Roberta Clarke, Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI People of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), had the opportunity to dialogue with civil society organizations and LGBTI+ activists from Brasília, Fortaleza, and Rio de Janeiro. During the visit, which took place from September 18th to 22nd, the IACHR Rapporteur was able to closely monitor the reality of the Brazilian LGBTI+ population, which, between advances and setbacks, remains united as a social movement and in the struggle for the preservation of the rights achieved thus far.

The trajectory of Roberta Clarke’s visit beyond the Rio-São Paulo axis was a strategy adopted by Race and Equality after several hearings with civil society, which constantly demanded attention to the different realities of the LGBTI+ population in other parts of the country. Thus, together with the support of the Ministry of Human Rights, through the National Secretary for the Rights of LGBTQIA+ People, Symmy Larrat, the city of Brasília was crucial for meetings with ministerial offices and meetings with the LGBTI+ movement in the Federal District. It is worth mentioning that the state of Ceará, with one of the highest rates of murders of LGBTI+ people, especially trans people, according to the dossier released by the National Association of Travestis and Transgenders (ANTRA), was also part of the script for active listening with activists from the northeast region, and for having the ‘Sister Imelda Lima Pontes Prison Unit’,  aimed exclusively at the LGBTI+ prison population.

Acknowledging that it is still too early to draw opinions and conclusions on the LGBTI+ Rapporteur’s visit to the country, Race and Equality brings to its audience an overview of the impressions shared by Roberta Clarke after talking to more than 15 organizations of the LGBTI+ movement in the visited cities. The Rapporteur’s impressions about the LGBTI+ population in the country were also reported during the public event held in Rio de Janeiro; “Building Bridges: LGBTI+ People’s Rights in an Intersectional Perspective”, hosted by Race and Equality.

During the week in which the Commissioner was in Brazil, two issues concerning LGBTI+ rights – which have already been achieved – were under discussion at the national level. One of them refers to equal civil marriage, which, due to the advance of extreme right-wing politicians in the Brazilian Congress, has once again been questioned as to its validity. Since 2011 and 2013, the Supreme Court (STF) and the National Council of Justice (CNJ) have equalized same-sex civil unions with heterosexual civil unions; however, Bill No. 5,167/2009 aims to annul this right. Although it has been postponed twice due to pressure from LGBTI+ deputies, and the vote remains suspended, it may return to the agenda in Congress. The other agenda that was under discussion refers to a manipulation also orchestrated by the growing anti-trans ideology that created a movement to attack the use of unisex bathrooms. The fomentation of intolerance on the part of conservative political actors has created a false idea that this was an urgent agenda item to be voted on.

These facts, for the Commissioner, reflected another Brazilian reality, since among the countries in the region, Brazil stands out among those that have made the most progress on LGBTI+ rights. In this regard, Roberta Clarke expressed concern about what is happening in the country and, particularly, about the issue of gender-based political violence, a topic that has been repeatedly denounced before the IACHR. For her, the spread of hate speech and the growth of the anti-trans movement has led to the need for reflection and the need to work together between social movements and LGBTI+ leaders. That is, to organize strategically to understand when it is worth expending efforts to the attacks of conservatives who aim only to spread fake news to dismantle civil society and interrupt the progress of the LGBTI+ political agenda.

In the face of these setbacks, the Commissioner demonstrated her solidarity and highlighted that the opportunity of having experienced different perspectives from across the country made her understand, in an intersectional way, the various types of violence that differentially affect the LGBTI+ community. While acknowledging the progress achieved through the historic struggle for visibility and rights, listening carefully to activists revealed that there is still much to be done. The country’s current situation has shown that there is strong pressure from the far right to destroy the progress made through gender equality policies and the recognition of LGBTI+ rights, and how through the spread of hate speech, trans people feel increasingly threatened and forced to live without access to basic rights.

Thus, Roberta affirmed the IACHR’s commitment to pay close attention to what happens in the country in the coming months, given that Brazil is a country of continental dimension and what happens in its territory has political influence on the entire region.

In her dialogue with the LGBTI+ social movement, the Rapporteur expressed concern about the difficulties reported in the documentation required for the process of civil rectification of name and gender; the various forms of violence against lesbian women; and the gap in the provision of public policies that meet their specificities, from the lack of data collection to the absence of health policies. In addition, lesbian women strongly emphasized the social exclusion they experience when they show affection in public, corrective rape practices, and conversion therapies, in addition to being expelled from their homes when they openly embrace their sexual orientation.

From the conversation with transmasculine people, the Commissioner was able to perceive how the violence they face is crossed mainly by issues of race, class, and territory, especially with regard to police violence. In Ceará, the theme of education was a major motto among LGBTI+ activists, highlighting the need for school inclusion policies since many LGBTI+ students abandon their educational institutions, either due to LGBTIphobia, bullying, disrespect for gender identity, among other forms of discrimination, and some do not even complete elementary school. In this context, on September 19th, the National Council for the Rights of the LGBTQIA+ Population published a resolution establishing guidelines to ensure inclusion and respect for gender identity in educational institutions.

In Brasilia, in addition to meetings with ministerial offices, Roberta Clarke met with the board of directors of the National LGBTQIA+ Council and had the opportunity to learn about the current demands of the LGBTI+ political agenda, in view of the democratic resumption in the country. The meeting with activists from the region took place in the Drag District with a round table that discussed topics such as the need for social assistance policies for the LGBTI+ population, such as the promotion of shelters and access to healthcare for the trans population.

During her visit to Rio de Janeiro, the Commissioner received a report from the Brazilian Lesbian Articulation (ABL) about lesbian women in the country; and received the ‘Dossier on Lesbocide’, after talking to one of the authors. In addition, she was given the dossiers on murder and violence against Brazilian travestis and transgender people in 2022; and the ‘Trans Brasil’ dossier, on their situation in the prison system, both documents being produced by ANTRA.

Finally, Race and Equality is deeply grateful to the Brazilian LGBTI+ movement that mobilized activists from different regions of the country so that they could convey to the IACHR Rapporteur their life experiences and their trajectories of struggles for rights in a country where being and existing as an LGBTI+ person is an act of courage. We also thank the IACHR for accepting our invitation and engaging in dialogue with the Brazilian LGBTI+ civil society movement. In view of our mission, encouraging visits by rapporteurs and experts from international mechanisms is another step in ensuring visibility, non-discrimination, and the full realization of human rights. Therefore, we ask the IACHR to consider the following recommendations for the Brazilian State:

1 – Creation of a National Council to confront hate speech and the dissemination of fake news with an intersectional perspective, in view of the violence and attacks suffered by the LGBTI+ population in the country.

2 – Establishment of policies and bills that constitutionally guarantee same-sex equal marriage, in addition to guaranteeing the safety of trans people in public bathrooms according to their gender identities and the plurality of unisex bathrooms.

3 – Collection of disaggregated data regarding the LGBTI+ population, either through the National Census or through surveys that foster the creation of specific public policies for this population.

4 – Training and education policies aimed at public security forces so that they can ensure the safety of Brazilian LGBTI+ people.

5 – Construction of a policy to confront gender-based political violence, with the provision of measures to protect LGBTI+ members of Congress.

 

International Day for People of African Descent: A Path Towards Reparation for Victims of Racism in the Region

Washington D.C., 31 August 2023.- In Latin America and the Caribbean, a region in which one in four people identify as Afro-descendent, structural racism and racial discrimination are reflected in the unequal access to quality education, unemployment, and a higher rate of poverty. According to the report Afrodescendientes en Latinoamérica, Afro-descendent Latin Americans are 2.5 times more likely to live in chronic poverty.

On the International Day for People of African Descent, the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) reaffirms its commitment to guaranteeing and protecting the human rights and fundamental liberties of Afro-descendent people, as outlined in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), and the Plan for the Decade for People of African Descent in the Americas (2016-2025).

Our Work in the Region

Race and Equality works with partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to promote documentation, denunciation, and advocacy processes before the Inter-American System and the Universal System for the protection of human rights, including recently created spaces such as the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD) and the Expert Mechanism to Promote Justice and Racial Equality in Law Enforcement (EMLER). The organization is also recognized for bringing our counterparts to participate in high-level events such as the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS). All of this to support their full and equal participation in all aspects of society, and to promote comprehensive reparation for victims.

In Brazil, where 56% of the population self-identifies as Afro-descendent, Race and Equality works with Brazilian civil society organizations from an intersectional perspective, understanding that racial issues are crossed by gender, territorial, economic, and social vulnerability.

With its racial justice project, Race and Equality and its counterpart Selo Juristas Negras work in the search for justice for women, particularly black women in situations of deprivation of liberty, taking measures for their release from detention centers and their subsequent social, familial, and professional reintegration. In this regard, during our advocacy tour this year in Washington, DC, we arranged meetings of Selo Juristas Negras with African American members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

In Colombia, 599,580 black women have suffered the consequences of the armed conflict, being the most affected population group. Currently, these women have gathered in the Coordinación de Mujeres Afrocolombianas Desplazadas en Resistencia “La COMADRE” and Race and Equality accompanies them in international litigation actions for the process of their recognition as subjects of collective ethnic reparation and their respective reparation as victims of the armed conflict.

This long process began in 2014 and continues without resolution, therefore, Race and Equality has conducted advocacy actions before the Inter-American System of Human Rights (IASHR) that have resulted in precautionary measures that guarantee the protection of the life and personal integrity of La COMADRE. Moreover, we have also conducted international advocacy through the participation of a leader of La COMADRE in the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent; and investigatory and documentary actions of the violations of rights of Afro-Colombian women that show a pattern of systematic violations of their rights.

In Mexico, where the Afro-descendant population is the second largest that faces the most acts of discrimination based on certain conditions or characteristics of human diversity, Race and Equality promoted the “Capacity Building Strategy for the Mexico 2020 Census Campaign,” that generated a nationwide media project focused on strengthening Afro-descendant self-identification with the ethnonyms included in the 2020 Census and resulted in more than 2.5 million people self-identifying as Afro-descendant.

Additionally, in the years 2018 and 2019 we accompanied Afro-Mexican activists in the first and second thematic hearing on the Afro-descendant population before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and the session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). These key spaces have shown that the Mexican state must “redouble efforts and guarantee Afro-descendant people full access to protection and effective resources in national tribunals and other institutions of the state against any act of discrimination and racism, and adopt all legal and effective measures to combat them,” according to activist Gina Diédhiuo of the organization Afrodescendencias.

In Cuba, Race and Equality trains Afro-descendant activists from independent civil society organizations on the Island. Through these diverse training workshops, we have promoted strategies for Afro-Cubans to make racism, the racial discrimination they face, and the obligations the Cuban state has assumed under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination visible.

In Uruguay, we support organizations from Afro-descendant civil society in the elaboration of alternative reports before the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). These documents address ethno-racial inequalities, barriers to access to justice in cases of racial discrimination, the criminalization of religious racism, the concern about the significant percentage of the Afro-descendant population deprived of liberty, and the demand for full reparation for the forced displacements suffered by the Afro-descendant community in times of state terrorism.

Additionally, we have promoted the participation of Afro-Uruguayan organizations in the last session of CERD, in which the state of Uruguay was examined at the beginning of August. At this moment, Race and Equality supported the members of the Organización Social Salvador to hold working meetings and dialogue with representatives of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and with members of CERD in Geneva.

In the Dominican Republic the state has approved laws that endorse the arbitrary deportation and other violations against the rights of migrant Haitian populations and Dominico-Haitians. Race and Equality works with the Movimiento Socio Cultural de Trabajadores Haitianos (MOSCTHA) providing technical support for the promotion of racial justice through trainings, documentation, and the strengthening of the racial litigation work of a network of attorneys.

This year, we supported MOSCTHA in its active participation in the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent and in an advocacy tour in Washington, DC, hosting visits at the United States Congress. For María Martínez, an attorney with MOSCTHA, it is also important to note that, thanks to our joint work “we are part of UNAR -which works on racial justice- and RegionaR, two coalitions formed to -among other things- promote reparation for Afro-descendant victims of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and structural discrimination.”

Our Campaign for a Region Free From Racism

Since 2021, with the campaign CIRDI 2024, Towards a Region Free From Racial Discrimination”, Race and Equality adopted a regional commitment to promoting on a larger scale the ratification and implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI). In the framework of this campaign, we have trained local organizations to overcome the particular challenges that stand in the way of ratification and full implementation of CIRDI, such as resource gaps, lack of human capacity, and technical expertise.

Furthermore, this year we celebrated the 10th anniversary of CIRDI with representatives from the United States and Brazil, experts, and Afro-descendant, indigenous, and LGBTI+ leaders from the region, in a parallel event to the General Assembly of the OAS; and gave several workshops, such as the webinar “Key tools for monitoring the implementation of an Inter-American Convention,” in which specialists in international human rights law from Brazil and Mexico participated in the company of Paul Spencer, who serves as Senior Advisor for Caribbean Affairs at the IACHR.

These actions, together with advocacy actions by our counterparts, have impelled more than three countries of the region to begin strongly debating the ratification of this important instrument.

Pronouncement

Today, August 31st, from Race and Equality, we insist that states adopt concrete measures and practices through the approval and effective application of national and international juridical frameworks and policies against racism, racial discrimination, and other related forms of intolerance. It is imperative that the States of the Americas sign, ratify, and implement CIRDI, as a show of true commitment to facing down these scourges.

Finally, in preparation for the United Nations General Assembly to be held in September, Race and Equality urgently calls for the proclamation of a second International Decade for People of African Descent for the period of 2025-2034, that will contribute to the adoption of new methods to combat structural discrimination and historical inequality faced by the population, to achieve full recognition, justice, and development for Afro-descendant peoples all over the world. Likewise, we call for their active and effective participation in the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD).

25J: Afro-Latina, Afro-Caribbean, and Diaspora Women in Spaces for the Protection and Defense of the Rights of the Afro-descendant Population

Washington D.C., July 25, 2023- The creation of new international mechanisms for the protection and promotion of the rights of people of African descent marks a key and historic opportunity to overcome the racism and discrimination faced by this population. Therefore, this International Day of Afro-Latina, Afro-Caribbean, and Diaspora Women, from the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) we call for the gender and intersectional perspectives to be taken into account in these spaces, so that they mark the work of monitoring the situation and making recommendations to the States.

July 25 and the Struggle for Racial Justice

July 25 was established as International Afro-Latina, Afro-Caribbean, and Diaspora Women’s Day during the First Meeting of Afro-Latina, Afro-Caribbean, and Diaspora Women, which was held on a day like today, but in 1992, in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), in recognition of the work of women of African descent in the fight against racial discrimination, sexism, poverty, and marginalization.

In our line of work on racial equality, we have been incorporating gender and intersectional approaches in all the actions we carry out (strategic litigation, capacity building, and documentation), as we believe that through these perspectives, we can guarantee the inclusion of women and all those with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity.

Likewise, in view of the creation of international mechanisms on Afro-descendant populations, we have supported the participation of Afro-descendant women in new spaces such as the International Mechanism of Independent Experts to Promote Racial Justice and Equality in the Context of Law Enforcement (EMLER) and the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD), as well as in other long-standing spaces such as the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Afro-descendant Women Setting the Agenda in New Mechanisms

At the second session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, which took place from May 30 to June 2 in New York, Afro-descendant women’s organizations from Brazil, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic formed a Racial Justice Delegation to denounce racial and gender-based violence in Latin America. With the support of Race and Equality and the Black Alliance to End Violence (Fundo Elas), the delegation also raised the need to build agendas and projects to combat, through an intersectional perspective, the different ways in which racist violence affects the lives of women in the region.

“The important thing about being present in this space was that I was able to bring the voices of several silenced women. Grada Kilomba, a black artist, writer, and intellectual says that the white man is at the top of the social pyramid, then comes the white woman, then the black man, and the black woman is invisible at the bottom of the pyramid. And we want to change that,” says Monique Damas, lawyer and Executive Director of Selo Juristas Negras, one of the organizations that made up the delegation.

Erlendy Cuero, Vice-President of the Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES) and who was also part of the Racial Justice Delegation to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Afro-descendants, believes that guaranteeing a gender perspective in these spaces is essential due to the persistence of racist and discriminatory actions aimed at harming their integrity not only because they are women, but also because they are Afro-descendant women.

“We are the ones who suffer the disproportionate impact of the armed conflict, when our bodies continue to be sexually abused as strategies for banishment and uprooting from our territories, when we cannot access education, employment, decent housing, health, etc.,” she says.

Regarding what is expected with the participation of Afro-descendant women in these new mechanisms, as well as in others that have been in operation for several decades such as CERD and the CEDAW Committee, Cecilia Ramirez, Executive Director of the Center for the Development of Peruvian Black Women (CEDEMUNEP), says: “More just, egalitarian, and equitable societies guarantee the autonomy of Afro-descendant women; also, increase the capacities of young Afro-descendant women and provide them with the necessary opportunities to develop their full potential”.

“We hope that our states can generate affirmative actions and public policies with budgets that guarantee the closing of the inequality gaps that we face not only because of our gender condition but also because of our ethnicity,” adds Ramírez. It is worth noting that during the review of the CEDAW Committee in Peru in 2022, Afro-Peruvian activists participated for the first time, through CEDEMUNEP with the support of Race and Equality.

From Cuba, Marthadela Tamayo, from the Citizens’ Committee for Racial Integration (CIR), highlights the gender approach and intersectionality as key tools in spaces on the Afro-descendant population. “Because they are necessary spaces for these populations to explain or narrate the realities they live from all the intersections they go through in their daily lives in their neighborhoods or communities,” she says.

“In addition, these spaces can be very positive scenarios for women to articulate, develop, and participate in the political and public life of a country,” she adds.

Race and Equality will continue to promote the participation of Afro-descendant women in existing regional and international mechanisms for the protection and promotion of the rights of Afro-descendant people. It is essential that the gender and intersectional perspective be taken into account in data collection, situation analysis, and the formulation of recommendations to the States.

Tragedy Announced: Anti-Democratic Movements Must Be Investigated by the Brazilian State

Brazil, 10th January, 2023 – The action of Bolsonaro protesters that culminated in the dispossession of the Brazilian public and historical patrimony in the federal capital, in a vile attempt of an anti-democratic coup, is marked as a tragedy. The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) calls on the Brazilian state to prioritize, in its public security plan, the investigation and containment of anti-democratic acts on the rise in the country. As such, we urge accountability and justice of all those involved in acts of vandalism at the headquarters of the three branches of power, as well as the identification of the financiers of this criminal articulation.

Since the establishment of the Democratic State of Law, for the first time, this insurgent act threatens Brazilian democracy at the national and international level. The events of January 8, 2023 are worrying not only because they undermine the popular sovereign will established in the 2022 electoral process, but also for seeking to legitimize hate crimes and escalating violence under the cover of freedom of expression. Thus, we align ourselves with the international repudiation and call for haste and rigid investigations with the observation of due process.

The omission of the military police and the convenience of the army resonate as a warning to those currently in the administrative office that the worst can happen. Therefore, Brazil needs to prioritize, at the national level, the agenda of democratic security to face such situations of sharp polarization especially with the victory of President Lula. The nearly 150 buses that arrived in Brasilia with Bolsonaro protesters were known to the state and the security forces. Thus, the deliberate omission of the invasion of public buildings besides representing an affront to Brazilian democracy, reveals the country’s impunity dressed as a political tonic of forgetfulness and privilege. The caricature of the ‘Capitol Bolsonarista’ is elitist, racist, sexist, and LGBTIphobic.

Thus, Race and Equality as a human rights organization, repudiates the attacks against the three branches of power, and hopes that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva can reestablish the defense of peace and democracy. It is also essential to foster a policy of confrontation and monitoring of anti-democratic movements that, motivated by the Bolsonaro agenda, will not cease during the next four years of office. Therefore, it is urgent that any possibility of amnesty is out of the question for the Republic of Brazil to move towards equity and social justice.

Permanent Forum on People of African Descent of the UN: Race and Equality and Brazilian CSOs Reaffirm their Commitment to Combat Systemic Racism

Brazil, December 23th, 2022 – Between December 5th and 8th, the first session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent took place in Geneva, Switzerland. Created through Resolution 75/314 of the United Nations General Assembly in 2021, the purpose of this consultative mechanism is to contribute to the fight against racism and to promote the rights of the black population, collaborating with the Human Rights Council and other UN mechanisms. The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) was present at the Forum with Brazilian partner organizations including NGO Criola, Ilê Axé Omiojuaro, Geledés – Institute of Black Women, and the National Association of Travestis and Transsexuals (ANTRA).

The creation of this Forum emerged through the activities implemented by the International Decade of Afro-descendants. The event was attended by Epsy Campbell Bar, President of the Permanent Forum, and former Vice President of Costa Rica; Francia Marquez, Vice President of Colombia; and Federico Villegas, President of the UN Human Rights Council. Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), oversaw the opening table ceremony. The Forum had more than 900 people (virtual and face-to-face), with almost 700 people present during four days of intense debates, including human rights activists, United Nations experts, and civil society of several countries whose work center around racial justice.

The convention was held through thematic panels, meetings, and featured 27 parallel events. Notable themes were identified in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and other forms of intolerance, including shared strategies of good practice among civil society. The main debates centered on the fight against systemic racism and police brutality; the inclusion of Afro-descendants in the sustainable development agenda – climate justice; the right to redress; the drafting of the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Afro-descendant Peoples; the need for equity for all, and the need for intersectionality to understand the various forms of racial discrimination, with emphasis on the right of women, young people, the LGBTI+ community, and migrants.

On the last day, the meeting ended with conversations concerning the future of the Permanent Forum. All panels included the participation of civil society leaders with statements on the proposed themes. It should be noted that the Durban Declaration and its Plan of Action were mentioned continuously by all who were present. In addition, approximately 300 people were able to present their contributions to collaborate with the construction of the Forum. The event also featured a cultural activity through the presentation of the group, “Escuelita del Ritmo,” from Panama, and the group Ubufakazi Besoweto from South Africa.

Several Brazilian civil society organizations participated in the debates, including Race and Equality’s CSO partners in Brazil. These partners had the opportunity to condemn racism among cis and trans women, denounce maternal mortality, criticize systemic racism in the justice system, articulate the importance of combating religious racism, and expressed the need of the Forum’s commitment to support trans black women. From Race and Equality, the Executive Director, Carlos Quesada, and Race and Gender Officer in Brazil, Leilane Reis, were present. In her statement, Leilane Reis highlighted the importance of the interaction of the future United Nations Declaration with the Inter-American Convention against Racism, emphasizing that the present States that have committed themselves to ratify and implement the document must fulfill this promise in pursuit of the effective fight against racism.

To close the four intense days of dialogue and work, following the listening process, Rapporteur Michael Eachrane made a few preliminary remarks to the Forum’s Work Plan for the next three years, and expressed the need to extend the Decade of Afro-descendants to 2034. The next meeting will take place in May 2023 in New York. Race and Equality celebrates the implementation of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, and intends to contribute to all opportunities of collective construction by encouraging the participation of civil society and Afro-descendant activists in the fight for human rights.

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