Victory in Matter of L-R Learn more...
Reverse Matter of A-T- and defend women's rights
On September 27, 2007, the Board of Immigration Appeals (Board), the highest immigration court in the country, denied protection to Alima Traore, a 28 year-old woman from Mali who was subjected to female genital cutting (FGC) as a child, and who fears a forced marriage should she be sent back to her home country. Learn more...
Justice for Pepe ~ Justice for Guatemala
On Friday, August 17, 2007, 28 year-old José Emanuel “Pepe” Méndez Dardón was assassinated on his way home from work in Guatemala City. Pepe, the married father of seven year-old twins, was the son of Amílcar Méndez, who has been internationally recognized for his human rights work. Learn more...
Femicides in Guatemala
In just the past six years, over 2,500 young Guatemalan women have been murdered, 665 in 2005 alone. What local activists are calling "femicide" is spreading in Guatemala and throughout Latin America. Learn more...
Legal update and Documents relating to Matter of R- A-
See this page for more information on our campaign to defend Rody Alvarado and win asylum for women fleeing gender persecution.
Rody Alvarado's Story Learn more...
Gender-Based Violence in Haiti
CGRS has long been involved in the struggle for human rights in Haiti and fair treatment of Haitian refugees in the United States. Most recently, CGRS has established a partnership with the U.S.-based women's rights organization, MADRE, and the Haiti-based grassroots women's organization, KOFAVIV, among others, to combat gender-based violence endemic in Haiti's displacement camps. In October 2011, a CGRS attorney participated in the UN Human Rights Council's human rights review of Haiti and, in November 2011, the organizations, along with the Glogal Justice Clinic at NYU School of Law, will be conducting a fact-finding investigation into the issue of sexual exploitation to lay the foundation for the advocacy and litigation. Stay tuned for updates.
CGRS Submits a Joint Statement to the UN Commission on the Status of Women Regarding Violence Against Women in Haiti
On November 21, 2011, CGRS submitted a joint statement to the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in collaboration with MADRE, KOFAVIV, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), L'École Supérieure Catholique de Droit Jérémie (ESCDROJ), Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen Bureau of Abricots (SOFA de Abricots) and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). The submission emphasizes that violence against women in Haiti presents the greatest challenge to the empowerment and participation of women in Haitian society. Thus, the statement argues, the broader agenda for women's empowerment (the focus of the upcoming CSW session) must integrate and prioritize efforts to combat violence against women. In particular, the statement urges the CSW to recommend that the Government of Haiti undertake measures to promote economic empowerment that will allow women to overcome patriarchal hierarchies that facilitate and encourage violence and legal empowerment that will increase access to justice to combat impunity, which has reinforced aggressors' perception that they can inflict violence without punishment. Aptly timed, the statement was submitted the same week that KOFAVIV and others participated in the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Download a copy of the statement here.
UN Working Group Asks the Government of Haiti to Combat Gender-Based Violence
On October 17, 2011, in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council concluded its review of Haiti’s human rights record. CGRS Attorney Blaine Bookey attended the review where she spoke with country representatives regarding gender-based violence in Haiti’s displacement camps. CGRS also co-sponsored two panel events in Geneva, the first discussing how to utilize Security Council Resolution 1325, in particular the principle of full participation of women in decision-making roles, to combat gender-based violence in Haiti, and the second providing a debrief of the Universal Periodic Review process and next steps for realizing human rights in Haiti. In addition to country representatives from key stakeholders such as Canada and the United States, the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, Michel Forst, attended one of the events. CGRS is glad that UN actors were able to hear the voices of attorneys and advocates working on the ground in Haiti, as their voices are often excluded from high level discussions.
The efforts of CGRS, and our partners at MADRE, IJDH, and the BAI, paid off – 23 of the approximately 50 countries who intervened during the review drew attention to pervasive discrimination and violence against women and girls. Yet others addressed related issues such as rampant impunity and limited access to justice, which have posed barriers to progress on eliminating gender-based violence. The Council’s Working Group’s report including these and other recommendations is available here, and videos of the review, including remarks by the Haitian government, can be viewed here. CGRS will continue to work to ensure that the full Council adopts the Working Group’s recommendations next spring and that the Government of Haiti work towards implementation. Moreover, CGRS will help facilitate site visits to Haiti for Council representatives who seek our assistance.
In the meantime, in November, CGRS will travel to Haiti to debrief and plan next steps with grassroots women’s organizations who participated in the drafting of a submission to the Council in advance of Haiti’s review.
CGRS Attends Human Rights Council Review of Human Rights in Haiti
CGRS Attorney Blaine Bookey is in Geneva to attend Haiti's review by the UN Human Rights Council. Although our clients, Haitian grassroots women leaders with KOFAVIV, were unable to obtain visas in time to attend the event, we are happy to note that gender-based violence will be central to the review. Six out of the seven countries that submitted advance questions for Haiti specifically addressed gender-based violence - a result of the lobbying and advocacy efforts of our collaborators including MADRE and Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. www.upr-info.org/-Haiti-.html.
Combating Gender-Based Violence and Advancing Women’s Rights in Haiti
CGRS has long been involved in the struggle for human rights in Haiti and fair treatment of Haitian refugees in the United States. Most recently, CGRS has established a partnership with the U.S.-based women’s rights organization, MADRE, and the Haiti-based grassroots women’s organization, KOFAVIV, to combat gender-based violence endemic in Haiti’s displacement camps. On October 13, a CGRS attorney will accompany members of KOFAVIV to testify before the United Nations in Geneva for Haiti’s first ever Universal Periodic Review. You can read the groups’ submission to the UN regarding gender-based violence in Haiti including recommendations here. We also urge our supporters to sign this petition calling on the Government of Haiti, with the support of the international community, to end sexual violence in Haiti. The Petition will be circulated to key stakeholders next week in Geneva.
Upon return from Geneva, CGRS will carry this momentum and continue to work with our partners to implement the ground-breaking decision by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) requesting that the Haitian government take urgent “precautionary measures” to protect women and girls living in displacement camps from sexual violence. These measures include, among other things, improved legal accountability, the provision of enhanced security, and the inclusion of grassroots women’s voices in decision-making. Please check back for updates and ways to get involved. In addition to the international advocacy campaign, CGRS will also be collaborating with attorneys at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) providing direct representation to victims of sexual violence in Haitian courts.
CGRS’s work in Haiti builds on the Center’s work combating violence against women in Guatemala and elsewhere in the Americas. You can read more about the campaign to end femicides in Guatemala and download our reports here.