Access to Justice & Human Rights
Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, in September 2014, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) launched a program to boost legal assistance and protection for stateless persons in the DominicanRepublic. ABA ROLI partnered with a civil society organization (CSO), Centro de Formación y Acción Social y Agraria (CEFASA), to help enhance the pro bono legal aid available to this marginalized population. Through its network of lawyers, paralegals and community leaders, CEFASA increased access to justice by providing trainings on human rights, case management, litigation and grassroots advocacy techniques.
Through the program, we strove to enhance legal professionals’ and local organizations’ capacity to provide legal assistance, conduct outreach activities to inform stateless persons of their rights and help to expand access to free legal services. Alongside local partners such as CEFASA our program worked to establish sustainable advocacy and humanitarian initiatives on the issue. CEFASA conducted 28 mobile legal clinic visits serving stateless personsfocusing on the northern Cibao region of the island, targeting the cities of Santiago and Puerto Plata, with an emphasis on legal representation. We provided technical assistance to broaden CEFASA’s ability to offer such services to the stateless residing in both urban centers and rural communities. Activities included enhancing outreach to beneficiaries, improving case-management and case-tracking processes, as well as more systematic monitoring and evaluation approaches. A mobile legal aid clinic improved access to justice for those residing in rural areas, where the most vulnerable often live in abandoned sugar mill communities—often in cement barracks or tin and cardboard shacks—that lack potable water or indoor plumbing. The stateless and undocumented of these communities lack access to identity cards so as to access healthcare, education and other basic services.
ABA ROLI and partners also conducted an outreach campaign to educate stateless persons about their legal rights and to encourage the target population to seek assistance. Activities helped to promote understanding ofbasic rights and illustrate everyday situations where discrimination is most prevalent. The campaign featured those CSOs that offer key services to the stateless. This program concluded its activities in September 2015.