Dominican Republic creates new spaces for freedom of religion or belief

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“The formation of national groups in countries such as the Dominican Republic gives IPPFoRB the opportunity to focus on local understandings and explanations of freedom of religion or belief’’

David Anderson, MP Canada and Chair of the IPPFoRB Steering Committee

Deputy Graciela Fermin Nuesi, Coordinator IPPFoRB Dominican Republic. Image    Source   .

Deputy Graciela Fermin Nuesi, Coordinator IPPFoRB Dominican Republic. Image Source.

With the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights being celebrated last week, the world is once again reminded of its commitment to promote, protect and respect fundamental human rights of all.

It is amongst this that parliamentarians in the Dominican Republic decided to establish their own national group that would fight to protect and advocate freedom of religion or belief for everyone, everywhere.

Deputy Graciela Fermin Nuesi, Coordinator of the newly launched IPPFoRB Dominican Republic proudly said, ‘‘in the year that we celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration, our group wants to contribute to make the Dominican Republic an important player in the defense of religious freedom.’’

With 25 parliamentarians, IPPFoRB Dominican Republic is one of the four national groups within the region of Latin America. Other national groups are in Brazil, Honduras and Chile. The national group in Chile was launched in October 2018.

Anderson adds, ‘for IPPFoRB it is vital to form national and regional groups across political, religious and geographical divides. This is one of the ways dialogue and efforts on freedom of religion or belief can be improved globally.’

To new beginnings

The foundation of IPPFoRB Dominican Republic were laid in a special session within the Parliament on 29th October 2018, which saw the presence of Dr. Uziel Santana, Secretariat of IPPFoRB Latin America along with Deputy Garciela Fermin Nuesi and several parliamentarians from Dominican Republic.

Dr. Santana, who also spoke at the special session on the issue of human rights, especially on freedom of religion or belief said, ‘the group wants to contribute to make Dominican Republican an influential actor in defense of freedom of religion or belief in the region and to raise global awareness on current freedom of religion or belief violations.’

Dr. Uziel Santana, Secretariat IPPFoRB Latin America in Santiago, Chile with memberS of IPPFoRB Chile.

Dr. Uziel Santana, Secretariat IPPFoRB Latin America in Santiago, Chile with memberS of IPPFoRB Chile.

Eager to share good practices, IPPFoRB Dominican Republic aims to provide training and support to parliamentarians, advocate for stronger freedom of religion or belief legislations and standards globally and effectively mobilize responses concerning religious persecution, both at home and abroad.

A bright future

In the past, parliamentarians from Dominican Republic have participated within various IPPFoRB events such as the World Meetings held in New York in 2015 and Germany in 2016, the regional consultation on religious freedom in Brazil in 2017 and other capacity building activities conducted by IPPFoRB Latin America.  

"It is extremely important that Parliamentarians be a voice for thousands of people who are facing some persecution or intolerance for their religion or belief. Dominican Republic makes history by joining this global movement, willing to contribute to the promotion and protection of freedom of religion and belief worldwide’, said María Mercedes Fernández, MP Dominican Republic who is one of the 25 parliamentarians to join IPPFoRB Dominican Republic.