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Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Updated: 1 hour 45 min ago
Un autre exemple de l’impunité de la MINUSTAH. Cet article raconte l’histoire de Widerson Gena, un garçon Haïtien qui a été abattu par la MINUSTAH lors d’une manifestation de l’école et est maintenant confinée à un fauteuil roulant pour le reste de sa vie. Il dit MINUSTAH a tué son rêve de devenir ingénieur agronome et demande des réparations pour lui et ses parents.Des balles tirées par des soldats argentins de l’ONU tuent le rêve d’un garçon haïtien
Joseph Guyler Delva HCNN, Le Nouvelliste
2 decembre 2013
Un jeune garçon haïtien, âgé de 16 ans, Widerson Gena, a accusé les soldats argentins de l’ONU en Haïti d’avoir tué son rêve de devenir ingénieur-agronome, après qu’il eut été atteint de cinq balles, paralysé, condamné à une chaise roulante que l’ organisation mondiale lui a en outre refusé tout soutien, plus de 2 ans plus tard.
Le 12 mai 2011, Gena, qui n’avait que 14 ans, a reçu 5 balles lorsque des soldats argentins de la mission de maintien de la paix des Nations unies en Haïti auraient ouvert le feu sur des écoliers et d’autres adolescents qui manifestaient au lycée Jacques Stephen Alexis, dans la ville des Verrettes, à 112 km au nord de Port -au- Prince.
« Les soldats argentins sont ceux qui ont tiré sur moi, parce que je pouvais reconnaître le drapeau argentin sur leur uniforme », a déclaré Gena à HCNN dans une interview.
« Je pleure parfois parce que, suite à ce qui m’est arrivé, je ne serai plus en mesure de réaliser mon rêve de devenir agronome », a déclaré Gena d’une voix tremblante, alors qu’il était assis dans son fauteuil roulant, dans un hôpital de la commune provinciale méridionale de Fond-des-Blancs où il a été transféré pour continuer à recevoir des soins.
La victime de 16 ans a appelé les Nations unies à verser une indemnisation à ses parents pour leur permettre de prendre soin de lui, étant donné que les médecins disent qu’il sera paralysé pour le reste de sa vie.
«Je veux que l’ONU paye une compensation, en réparation de ce qu’ils m’ont fait, afin que mes parents aient les moyens financiers pour me soutenir », a déclaré Gena.
Plusieurs centaines d’élèves du lycée de Verrettes, rejoints par des adolescents d’autres écoles, ont organisé la manifestation ce jour-là pour protester contre une décision du ministère de l’Éducation de nommer un nouvel enseignant en remplacement d’un professeur de physique qu’ ils tenaient en haute estime.
L’enseignant, André Pierre, accusé par la direction locale du système éducatif d’avoir incité les étudiants à l’émeute, a été arrêté par la police haïtienne, ce qui a eu pour effet de jeter de l’huile sur le feu.
Dans un rapport publié le jour même de l’incident, le service d’alerte d’information de l’ONU a fait état de troubles et a souligné qu’une patrouille conjointe de la police haïtienne et onusienne et des militaires de l’ONU ont été dépêchés pour rétablir l’ordre.
« Aucun blessé signalé », lit-on dans ce rapport éclair des Nations unies, daté du 12 mai 2011, qui a toutefois omis de mentionner un incident antérieur au cours duquel au moins Gena et un autre plus jeune écolier avaient été blessés par balle.
HCNN a contacté trois porte-parole de l’ONU en Haïti, Marcos Dos Santos Cardoso et son adjoint Edward Early et Sophie Boutaud de la Combe, pour essayer d’obtenir la version officielle onusienne des évènements, mais aucun d’entre eux n’est parvenu à fournir une réponse après avoir promis à plusieurs reprises de le faire pendant plus de 2 semaines. D
es sources proches de la composante militaire de l’ONU ont suggéré que les coups de feu qui ont grièvement blessé Gena auraient été tirés par la police haïtienne , parce que les soldats de l’ONU utilisent généralement des balles en caoutchouc quand il s’agit de contrôler des foules.
Toutefois, le chef de la police haïtienne à Verrettes au moment de l’incident, le commissaire Seme Calixte, a indiqué à HCNN que la police haïtienne n’était pas du tout sur les lieux lors de l’incident dans lequel Gena a été touché par balle.
«Nous avions eu la patrouille conjointe par la suite, parce que les protestations se poursuivaient et devenaient plus chaotiques », a fait savoir Calixte . «Mais l’incident impliquant Gena a eu lieu quelque temps auparavant lorsqu’une patrouille de l’ONU se heurta à une barricade érigée par les élèves qui ont lancé des pierres sur eux », a déclaré à HCNN le commissaire de police Calixte.
« Il n’y avait absolument aucun membre de la police haïtienne en compagnie des troupes onusiennes quand Gena a été touché par balle, c’est-à-dire au cours du premier incident», a insisté Calixte.
Les élèves étaient à l’extérieur du lycée et lançaient des pierres sur une patrouille de l’ONU quand les Casques bleus argentins ont ouvert le feu, selon plusieurs témoins.
«Je suis celui qui a transporté Widerson à l’hôpital après qu’il avait reçu les balles tirées par des soldats argentins de l’ONU», a indiqué à HCNN Ronald Théodile. «J’ai vu ça de mes propres yeux , et la police haïtienne n’était pas là à ce moment-là », a-t-il dit.
«Quand Widerson a reçu les projectiles, il est tombé, et quand je me suis précipité pour le ramasser, il a dit qu’il était en train de mourir et puis il s’est évanoui », a déclaré Théodile, expliquant que Gena a repris conscience pendant qu’il était à l’hôpital.
Les parents réclament réparation
Le père de la victime, Rémy Gena, a déclaré que son fils est très intelligent et travaillait exceptionnellement bien à l’école et a confirmé que l’écolier avait toujours fait part de son objectif rêvé de devenir ingénieur-agronome dans la communauté rurale des Verrettes, dans l’Artibonite qui est considéré comme le grenier à riz d’Haïti.
« Les soldats de l’ONU ont tiré sur mon fils et ils ont refusé jusqu’ici de donner une indemnité ou de le soutenir en aucune manière », a confié Gena (senior) à HCNN. «J’ai dépensé tout ce que j’avais pour soutenir Widerson au cours des deux dernières années et demi, mais maintenant je n’ai plus rien», a-t-il expliqué.
Des médecins qui ont examiné l’ancien élèveà l’hôpital Bernard Mevs dans la capitale, Port -au-Prince, ont déclaré que la vie de Widerson aura irréversiblement changé à la suite de ses blessures.
« Il devra utiliser le fauteuil roulant pour le reste de sa vie et a été forcé de vivre avec les complications de la paralysie dont des blessures à ses extrémités inférieures, blessures subies secondairement à la perte de sensation dans ses membres inférieurs et une incapacité d’avoir une vessie et des intestins qui fonctionnent», a déclaré à HCNN le docteur Joanna Cherry, de nationalité britannique.
Gena a raté plusieurs années d’études et l’interaction sociale en raison de son état et sa famille et lui ont physiquement , émotionnellement et financièrement souffert suite à ses blessures.
Gena a encore une balle dans sa colonne vertébrale, deux ont été extraites et deux l’ont transpercé, selon les médecins.
«Pour moi, la mission des Nations unies a une obligation morale et financière envers Widerson et sa famille qu’elle n’a pas su soutenir », a déclaré le Dr Cherry, qui est en charge de l’Unité de lésions de la moelle épinière à l’hôpital Bernard Mevs.
L’ONU a déjà mené une enquête interne sur cette affaire , mais aucun rapport n’a encore été rendu public.
Cliquez ICI pour l’original.
We’d like to share some exciting news! The Giving Library, an online video archive that connects donors to nonprofits, is kicking off a $100,000 “Share to Give” campaign on #GivingTuesday, the national day of giving, which is December 3 this year. Starting today, you can earn money for justice in Haiti with just a few clicks!
Between now and December 31, just share IJDH’s fantastic (we think) Giving Library video on Facebook or Twitter, and the Giving Library will donate $5 to us as part of their $100,000 “Share to Give” campaign. It’s that simple!
We think the video does a great job of explaining why fighting for justice is essential to building stability and prosperity in Haiti. If you agree, please tell your friends and followers and help us spread the word!
How to Share:
1. Go to IJDH’s Giving Library page, here.
2. Click the “Share Now” button.
3. Create an account (uses your Facebook or email), if you don’t already have one.
4. Click “Share on Facebook” or “Share on Twitter.”
5. Share either the default message or a message of your own.
Remember, IJDH will receive $5 only when you share our video through this link. Only your first share will count for $5 but feel free to share as often as you like! If your friends decide to participate, they also need share through IJDH’s Giving Library page for IJDH to get $5.
Haiti’s minimum wage is set to increase marginally on January 1st. The increase is not only much less than factory workers have asked for, it also doesn’t include many of them because they’re said to receive more than the new wage. Factory workers are known to receive much less than their official wages.Wage Hike in Haiti Doesn’t Address Factory Abuses
Jane Regan, Inter Press Service
December 3, 2013
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Dec 3 2013 (IPS) - Haiti’s minimum wage will nudge up 12 percent on Jan. 1, from 4.65 to 5.23 dollars (or 200 to 225 gourdes) per day. Calculated hourly, it will go from 58 cents to 65 cents per hour, before taxes.
But the raise will not affect Haiti’s 30,000 assembly factory workers, who are supposed to already be receiving about seven dollars for an eight-hour day – about 87 cents per hour. Recent studies have found rampant wage theft at almost two dozen of the factories that stitch clothing for companies like Gap and Walmart.
The wage hike comes almost five years after the Haitian parliament asked for a 200-gourde minimum wage, then worth 4.96 dollars a day, but failed to overcome Washington-backed industry opposition [see sidebar].
Agreed to on Nov. 29 by a government-convened Council on Salaries (CSS) – made up of labour, business and government representatives – the raise falls far short of the minimum wage of 11.63 dollars (500 gourdes) that factory worker unions and others were demanding.
Last month, in the capital and in Haiti’s north, the Collective of Textile Factory Unions federation (KOSIT), which represents workers in three industrial parks, mobilised for the 500-gourde wage.
On Nov. 7, to chants of “500 gourdes! 500 gourdes!,” over 5,000 workers and supporters marched outside the gates of a free trade zone on the border of the Dominican Republic in Ouanaminthe. Hundreds of others marched on Nov. 26 in the capital.
The factory owners countered late last week with an open letter which pled to “keep Haiti competitive” with what they identified as their “big rivals” – Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam, countries all known for harsh conditions and abuse.Union members, other workers and their supporters demonstrate to demand a 500-gourde minimum wage in Port-au-Prince on Nov. 26, 2013. Credit: Batay Ouvriye
“We recognise that the clothing and assembly sectors are not ends in and of themselves, but they can be a very important stimulus and can serve as a motor to help Haiti open up and present itself as a country that is changing and modernising,” said the 23 Haitian, Dominican and South Korean factory owners and industrialists from the Association of Haitian Industries (ADIH).
Two days later, on Nov. 29, eight of the nine members of the CSS, including all three union representatives, approved the 225-gourde wage. (None of the union representatives were from KOSIT.)
Yannick Etienne of Batay Ouvriye (Workers Struggle), a labour group which supports KOSIT and other textile unions, said her organisation and the unions disagree with the 225-gourde salary.
“We think it is a shame that the CSS union representatives agreed to the miserable wage of 225 gourdes. At a meeting the night before, we requested that they refuse to sign any agreement that was less than 300 gourdes,” Etienne told IPS.
Rampant wage theft
The country’s 30,000 workers – almost two-thirds of them women – in Haiti’s free trade zone assembly factories stitch together clothing for Gap, Gildan Activewear, Hanes, Kohl’s, Levi’s, Russell, Target, VF, and Walmart. Haitian law stipulates that “the price paid per production unit… must be set in a way that permits a worker to earn at least 300 gourdes for an eight-hour day.”
But recent studies by three different international groups, including the U.N.’s International Labour Organisation (ILO), have documented that the vast majority of workers receive the legal minimum only rarely: about 25 percent of the time, according to the ILO.
A 29-year-old mother who works at the Multiwear factory, which makes tee-shirts for Hanes, is one of those being gypped. (Like all workers interviewed for this story, she agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity.)
“I support my four-year-old, and two sisters, and one brother,” she told IPS. “Sometimes I make the quota and get 300 gourdes, but just once in a while.”
In its October 2013 report, the ILO’s Better Work textile factory monitoring programme found all 23 factories surveyed, including Multiwear, to be “non-compliant” with the law. To be “compliant,” Better Work said that “at least 90 percent of experienced workers” should be able to make 300 gourdes in an eight-hour day.
The mother is her family’s sole support.
“I am the oldest,” she continued. “Right now, my husband is not working. We live in one room.”
She wants the minimum wage to be raised, but said “many people won’t even show up to a sit-in, because if the bosses think you support a wage hike, you’ll immediately be fired.”
Workers, KOSIT leaders, several reports and many economists agree that 225 gourdes, and even 300 gourdes, are not living wages.
A 2011 study by the U.S.-based AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Centre held that a factory worker living in the capital and supporting two children would need to earn about 29 dollars per day (1,152 gourdes), six days a week, to support his or her family.
A 54-year-old worker from One World Apparel, owned by former presidential candidate Charles Henri Baker, also rarely earns 300 gourdes, she told IPS.
“When the boss started to hear talk about the minimum wage going up, he clamped down on us,” said the mother of three, who said she has worked at One World for eight years.
“You have to do 75 dozen pieces, but not every job is the same. Sometimes you can make the quota, but sometimes you can’t. No matter what the job is, the number is the same. Once in a while, if I work really hard, I can at least make 225 gourdes,” she added.
Both Gildan and Fruit of the Loom recently released statements promising to ensure their subcontractors respected the 300-gourde minimum.
“It is our view that the clear intent of Haiti’s minimum wage law is for production rates to be set in such a manner as to allow workers to earn at least 300 gourdes for eight hours of work in a day,” Fruit of the Loom said in a statement. “Based on our independent investigation, we concur with the WRC that the garment industry in Haiti generally falls short of that standard.”
In addition to denying most workers the 300-gourde minimum, bosses were regularly cheating labourers out of overtime and making them work essentially for free, according to a report from the Washington-based Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), issued Oct. 15, 2013.
In Stealing from the Poor, based on worker interviews and pay stubs from five factories (four in the capital and SAE-A at the Caracol Industrial Park), the WRC found repeated cases of employers paying workers the incorrect amount for overtime hours. (The ILO reported only nine percent of factories cheating workers out of overtime.)
In the capital, WRC maintains that at the four factories surveyed – One World, Genesis, Premium and GMC – workers were “being cheated of an average of seven weeks’ pay per year.” Workers sometimes willingly work “off the clock” in order to make the quotas necessary to be paid 300 gourdes, the group reported.
Economist Camille Chalmers, director of the Haitian Platform Advocating an Alternative Development (PAPDA), is highly critical of the Haitian government for, among other things, not enforcing the 300-gourde minimum. He has called for a 560-gourde minimum wage.
“The government does not play the role of arbiter, as it should,” said the university professor while speaking at a Nov. 18 meeting on the wage issue. “Government authorities instead tend to listen to the embassies, to ADIH… Our government is really tied to the upper class, the oligarchy.”
The current government – whose slogan is “Haiti is Open for Business!” – has pushed Haiti’s low wages at numerous national and international conferences.
The mother of three agrees that the minimum wage needs to go up to at least 500 gourdes.
“If I hear there is going to be a demonstration, I’ll be there,” she told IPS. “I cannot make it with this pocket change. The bosses know that. They are just cruel.”
The recent ILO/Better Work report is the seventh Better Work report to document shortfalls and violations.
Additional reporting by Patrick St. Pré.
Click HERE for original.
After increasing tensions between Haiti and Dominican Republic and increasing pressure from other groups for on Caricom to act against DR in support of Haiti, Caricom has suspended DR’s application to join the community. They’ve also formally denounced the Dominican high court ruling at the core of these issues.Caribbean leaders defend Haiti, denounce Dominican decision
Jacqueline Charles, The Miami Herald
November 26, 2013
Declaring that it can no longer be business as usual, the Caribbean Community on Tuesday suspended the Dominican Republic’s application to join its regional economic bloc and called on the country’s leaders to urgently “take immediate, credible steps” to stave off a potential humanitarian crisis triggered by a citizenship ruling.
The decision came with a formal condemnation of the Dominican Republic’s constitutional court ruling of Sept. 23 stripping citizenship from anyone born in the country to parents who were illegal. And it happened despite a last minute assurance by Dominican President Danilo Medina that persons — the majority of them of Haitian descent — affected by the ruling would not be deported.
Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, chairwoman of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), said she received word from Medina on Tuesday morning that “the government of the DR will not deport any of the persons affected by the ruling of the constitution court and measures are to be taken to ensure that no one is deported.”
“Caricom expects these assurances by the Dominican Republic will be honored,” Persad-Bissessar said at a news conference after a special meeting by Caricom’s leaders on the court decision. “Caricom is prepared to engage the DR, but the government of the DR must be prepared to show good faith by immediate, credible steps as part of an overall plan to resolve this nationality and attendant issues in the shortest possible time.”
Persad-Bissessar, incoming Caricom chairman St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and former chairman Haitian President Michel Martelly spent several hours discussing the issue Tuesday. They also heard from members of civil society who denounced the measures and presented a Caribbean-wide petition condemning the decision. Among the points made during the discussions: the court ruling violates the Dominican Republic’s international human rights obligations.
“It is especially repugnant that the ruling ignores the 2005 judgment made by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) that the Dominican Republic adapt its immigration laws and practices in accordance with the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Tuesday’s meeting came as new tensions between Haiti and the Dominican Republic escalated. In recent days, hundreds of Haitians have been expelled by Dominican authorities — and many continued to leave voluntarily Monday — after violence broke out in the southwestern Dominican border town of Neiba in response to the fatal stabbing of an elderly couple in an apparent home burglary. Residents later killed a Haitian man, Haitian officials said.
Haiti’s Foreign Ministry late Saturday demanded an explanation from Dominican authorities, whose soldiers reportedly drove Haitians across the border into Haiti. As of Monday, no formal explanation had been given, Foreign Minister Pierre-Richard Casimir said.
Martelly spoke of the recent deportations, which came after Haiti and the Dominican Republic began diplomatic talks over the weekend in Venezuela, to address the issue. Instead of the Dominican Republic showing good faith actions, Martelly said, “this weekend about 300 Haitians were repatriated.”
Click HERE for original.
The situation of Dominicans of Haitian descent remains extremely uncertain ever since the September 2013 high court ruling that denies citizenship to ancestors of immigrants born in 1929 or later. The faith-based community has had a large impact in Haiti and they feel that now, more than ever, it’s important for the voice of churches to be heard in the US and DR as well.Statement of communities of faith on the ruling of the Dominican Constitutional Court denying citizenship to four generations of Dominicans of Haitian descent
November 26, 2013
“Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” — Proverbs 31:8, 9
We represent churches, interdenominational groups and faith-based organizations with long presence and ties in the Dominican Republic. As communities of faith, we express profound concern at the September 23 ruling of the Constitutional Court that the children of all persons “in transit” in the country since 1929 are not Dominican. The decision particularly affects Dominicans of Haitian descent, potentially stripping them of their nationality, and putting them at risk of being stateless and/or subject to deportation.
Dominican citizens of Haitian descent are often among the poorest of the poor. They are the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Haitians who crossed the border in search of a better life, and of migrant workers contracted by the Dominican government to help harvest sugarcane and other crops. They have helped build the wealth of communities, labored at the most difficult jobs, and contributed tremendously to Dominican society and economy. These Dominican citizens for generations have been fully integrated into Dominican society and have long since lost ties to Haiti.
As churches and faith based organizations working and living in the country and accompanying this population directly, or those who serve them, we have directly observed the impact on them of increasing hostility:
• We have seen the discrimination and neglect experienced by Dominicans of Haitian ancestry, witnessed their economic and social marginalization in the bateyes, and observed racial discrimination in their personal lives and the public domain.
• We have noted the impact on this population of the Dominican government’s failure to comply with the 2005 ruling of the Inter-American Court which called for the restitution of birth documents withheld from Dominicans of Haitian descent. This inertia has emboldened some elements to be more vocal in their anti-Dominco-Haitian sentiments, causing Dominicans of Haitian descent to live in fear of xenophobia and racism in their own country.
• We have noted that since 2005, further rulings of the Dominican Central Electoral Board have authorized civil registry offices to withhold birth certificates, and confiscate ID cards and passports from Dominicans of Haitian descent, simply because of their ancestry. Hundreds of Dominicans have lived in limbo since then, as without their documents they are unable to go to school, access medical services, open bank accounts, get married, or make needed purchases. Many of these denationalized Dominicans of Haitian descent are young people awaiting their documentation to rebuild their lives.
• We have heard the stories of Dominican citizens who have been deported to Haiti because of their dark skin.
• We have witnessed the attempt made by institutions of the Dominican government to strip Sonia Pierre, human rights advocate and leader of the Movement of Dominico-Haitian Women, of her citizenship as she courageously fought for the nationality and citizenship rights of the Dominico- Haitian population to be respected.
This latest ruling of the Dominican Constitutional Court will dramatically worsen the already unjust situation of discrimination and economic marginalization. Retroactive application is illegal under international law and also violates several articles of the Dominican constitution itself. UNCHR, UNICEF and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission have deplored this Court decision, and called upon the government of the Dominican Republic to ensure that the fundamental human right to nationality is respected.
We urge the Dominican government to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to safeguard the nationality and citizenship rights of Dominico-Haitians. This includes ensuring that relevant ministries expedite processing the backlog for issuing of birth certificates and national I.D. cards to Dominicans of Haitian descent born prior to January 2010, whose Dominican nationality is protected by Dominican law as well conventions signed by government.
As people of faith, we cannot remain silent as one entire section of the community is dehumanized simply because of the color of their skin and their cultural heritage. Jesus Christ welcomed all into the beloved community, and we cannot honor and follow our Lord and Savior by remaining silent in the face of such extreme injustice.
AG Missions Inc, (AMI)
Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College
Community of Christ
Christian Haitian Entrepreneurial Society, Inc.
Church World Service
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC)
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Our Lady of Grace- Chelsea/Everett Haiti Committee
Pax Christi Ayiti
Pax Christi USA
Presbyterian Church USA
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
United Methodist Women
November 26, 2013
Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action on behalf of Kouraj, an LGBTI rights group in Haiti, because their office in Port-au-Prince was attacked last Thursday. Many of their members whose personal information was stolen remain at great risk. Please take a moment to take action to help keep these human rights defenders safe.
Some of the background information is pasted below. Click HERE to learn how to help.
LGBTI ORGANIZATION’S OFFICE ATTACKED IN HAITI
The office of Kouraj, a Haitian organization which raises awareness about LGBTI rights and creates public debate about the stigma surrounding same-sex relationships in Haiti was attacked by armed men on 21 November. At around 1pm, three men armed with machetes and handguns forced their way into Kouraj’s office based in Port-au-Prince. They said that that office must not operate here and made homophobic insults against the two members of Kouraj who were in the office at the time, whom they then beat and tied up. The attackers then proceeded to ransack the office and stole office equipment including two laptops and personal belongings. Kouraj staff are concerned that these men also took files containing contact information of the organization’s members, including personal addresses, email addresses and telephone numbers. It is not clear how many files were stolen and therefore how many members could be at risk of further attacks.
A few days before the attack, Kouraj activists heard people making threats outside the office, saying that the office was an office of homosexuals, and that they would attack them soon. Since the attack, Kouraj activists have received several anonymous calls with homophobic insults and threats of further attacks. Kouraj’s office has been closed since the attack occurred. A justice of the peace (juge de paix) has been to the office to make a report on the incident and Kouraj have reported it to the police.
Click HERE to learn how to help.
This Foreign Policy Association article discusses the UN’s apparent lack of humanity and morality in its responses to cholera in Haiti, citing Mario Joseph and mentioning IJDH.The U.N. Lacks Moral Authority to Dictate Morale in Haiti
Chris Celius, Foreign Policy Association
November 25, 2013
It is a volcano jumping between dormant and active stages and last month, it erupted again, spitting a litany of condemning editorials across global opinion pages that set ablaze United Nations’ inexcusable, uncompromising policy in Haiti, where the cholera epidemic, now entering its fourth year, killed more than 8,300 people and sickened another 650,000. An advocacy group representing the victims provoked the latest upsurge of Haiti’s cholera fiasco when it filed a lawsuit against the U.N. in a Manhattan Federal District Court, demanding reparations.
Although an Everest of evidence only indexed U.N. peacekeepers, particularly a Nepalese contingent caught dumping human waste into the Artibonite River near its base that numerous studies pinned at the origin of the outbreak, the global organization refused to accept responsibility for its man-made disaster. However, lead counsel Mario Joseph hopes this eruption will spew enough lava to overwhelm U.N. officials’ deniability and compel them to pay financial reparations to its victims.
The U.N.’s response to the lawsuit varied little from its persisting refrain; a confluence of circumstances, including the country’s dearth of clean water and good sanitation facilitated the spread of cholera. Beyond its dismissive, dehumanizing response however, the global entity failed to provide a shred of scientific evidence, challenging the slew of academic research that traced the cholera strain to Nepal that experienced an outbreak in the months preceding its peacekeepers’ deployment to Haiti.
Rather than taking necessary safety measures to protect hundreds of thousands of lives, the U.N. neglected to properly screen its troops, failed to maintain proper sanitation facilities, and take immediate, appropriate actions following the outbreak. It therefore carelessly allowed Haitians to become infected with cholera, unheard of in the Caribbean nation since 1867. Instead, organizational leaders hid behind the 1946 Convention of the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, claiming absolute immunity from prosecution, spitting on the graves and faces of its victims.
Asked about an official response to the lawsuit, “it is not the United Nations practice to discuss in public claims filed against the Organization,” answered a U.N. spokesperson. Yet, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon telephoned President Michel Martelly in February 2013 and told him that the U.N. would not compensate any of the 5,000 claimants the Institute for Justice and Democracy (IJDH) represented in a similar November 2011 lawsuit. As Joseph argued, “The United Nations can’t have humanity and impunity at the same time,” which was a pivotal conclusion researchers from Yale Law School reached last July, after examining the cholera debacle. The report noted the United Nations’ immunity clause does not confer absolute impunity, especially when the world organization blatantly violated its contractual obligations to Haiti and its responsibilities under international human rights law. In its signed-agreement with the Haitian government when it established a peacekeeping force there in 2004, the U.N. promised to create a commission to review claims related to complaints about its troops. Such a commission has never been established, noted the report.
U.N.’s degrading response to its victims’ public outcry constituted not only an attack on human dignity and decency, but also a violation of fundamental accountability principles that has govern society for millennia. As such, we must stop punishing poorly behaving children; intervene in countries where totalitarian regimes use chemical weapons on their own people; or, for that fact, administer justice to individuals that, through criminal negligence, allow others to die.
The Yale report correctly stated, the U.N. “risks losing its moral ground by refusing to comply with the very law it demands states and other international actors to respect,” and I could not agree more, especially when the rising tide of anti-Martelly demonstrations inhibiting the country could necessitate peacekeepers’ intervention. Granted, the United Nations played a pivotal role, helping save and/or improve lives in Haiti, particularly in the country’s post-quake struggles; nevertheless, human lives must supersede self-serving bureaucratic, political or policy maneuvers.
Click HERE for original.
Haitian president Martelly and St. Vincent Prime Minister Gonsalves went to Trinidad to meet the chair of Caricom and discuss possible repercussions for the Dominican Republic high court ruling that denies citizenship to Dominicans with Haitian ancestry. This comes after increasing tensions between Haiti and DR and increasing pressure on Caricom to support Haiti in this matter.Caribbean leaders consider sanction against the Dominican Republic
Jacqueline Charles, The Miami Herald
November 25, 2013
As new tensions mount between Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic, the top brass of the Caribbean Community will decide Tuesday whether to impose sanctions against the Dominican Republic over a high court ruling denying citizenship to tens of thousands of Haitian descendants
Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and incoming chairman of Caricom, flew to Trinidad on Monday, as did Haitian President Michel Martelly, the immediate past chair. On Tuesday, the two will meet with current chairwoman and Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for a special meeting to discuss a range of sanctions that include freezing the Dominican Republic’s application to join their grouping.
In July, Dominican President Danilo Medina flew to oil-rich Trinidad hoping to charm Martelly and other Caribbean leaders over his country’s long-standing request to join the 15-member mostly English-speaking political and economic bloc.
Gonsalves, whose tiny nation recently led the charge against the Dominican Republic at an Organization of American States meeting, said Santo Domingo needs “to correct an egregious wrong.”
“This is the 21st century in our hemisphere, and we are having this kind of ethnic barbarism. It’s absurd, and unacceptable among civilized people,” Gonsalves said told the Miami Herald. “You can’t use national law and sovereignty to take away people’s rights.”
The court’s decision has reverberated in enclaves where Haitians and Dominicans live in the United States, as well as in the Caribbean where pressure has been building for Caricom to take a tough stand in support of Haiti, one of its weakest members. Among those denouncing the decision in the Caribbean: The Justice & Peace Commission of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston, as well as the Caribbean Conference of Churches and the Caribbean Civil Society Organizations.
Tuesday’s meeting comes as new tensions between Haiti and the Dominican Republic continued to escalate. In recent days, hundreds of Haitians have been expelled by Dominican authorities — and many continued to leave voluntarily Monday — after violence broke out in a southwestern Dominican border town of Neiba after an elderly couple was fatally stabbed in an apparent home burglary. Residents killed a Haitian man in retaliation, Haitian officials said.
Dismayed by the incident, Haiti’s Foreign Ministry late Saturday demanded an explanation from Dominican authorities whose soldiers reportedly drove Haitians across the border into Haiti. As of Monday, no formal explanation had been given, Foreign Minister Pierre-Richard Casimir said from the Port-au-Prince international airport as he and Haitian President Michel Martelly left for Trinidad.
The latest deportations underscore the ongoing hostility toward Haitians in the Dominican Republic where there has long been a debate over undocumented workers — mostly Haitian — and their children.
On Sept. 23, the Dominican Constitutional Court issued a ruling that human rights and immigration advocates say strips citizenships from as many as 300,000 Haitians. Retroactive to 1929, the court denied citizenship to anyone whose parents was not legally in the Dominican Republic.
Dominican officials have defended the decision saying it ends the uncertainty for children of immigrants and opens the door for them to apply for residency and eventually citizenship. Last week, after widespread international condemnation, officials announced they had come up with a plan to address the legal status of those impacted by the ruling, and would announce it in coming days.
The Foreign Ministry also released a statement saying the country was involved in a diplomatic outreach “to avoid distortions and misinterpretations” of its position.
Gonsalves said the Caricom leaders on Tuesday plan to consider formally condemning the ruling and adopt the position taken Friday by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. Eastern Caribbean leaders described the constitutional court decision as “repulsive and discriminatory,” and expressed “collective abhorrence.”
The leaders also called on Caricom to suspend the Dominican Republic’s application to join their community until corrective measures are taken and for the country’s membership in CARIFORUM, a grouping of former European colonies that get preferential trade terms from the European Union, to be reviewed.
Caribbean leaders also said they want countries such as Venezuela, which recently brokered talks between Haiti and the Dominican Republic over the issue, and members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), to condemn the ruling.
“We want CELAC to make a statement,” Gonsalves said, adding that Venezuela should considering dropping the Dominican Republic from the Petrocaribe oil subsidy program.
While Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe have been criticized for not taking a more public position on the ruling, Gonsalves defended the Haitian leaders. He said they are “being very measured and careful. They have criticized the decision, but said this is a matter for the Dominican Republic to solve. They don’t want to get involved in the Dominican Republic internally.”
Still, he said, Medina has a decision to make.
“He has to decide which side of history he’s going to end up on,” Gonsalves said. “The backward side or the side of progress.”
Click HERE for original.
The illegality of abortions in Haiti is leading to a crisis, with high rates of unintended pregnancies leading to high rates of illegal and dangerous abortions. Often, these risky abortions lead to loss of the uterus or even death.Unsafe abortions: Haiti’s abortion crisis
Jacqueline Charles, The Miami Herald
November 23, 2013
PORT-AU-PRINCE – After one clinic failed to remove the 16-week-old fetus growing inside her, the desperate high school student turned to the “doctor” known to her only as Little Old Father, Ti Le Pè.
Standing in her sparse bedroom, the bearded man with a baseball cap first prepared a special bath — a mixture of Haitian moonshine, essential oil and a “special soap.” He then put her in bed, strapped her swollen stomach and disappeared. At 5 the next morning, he returned with a cold, murky herbal concoction.
The young woman, who had been secretly hiding her pregnancy, sipped the herbal remedy and waited for her contractions to finally expel the embryo.
After three days of vomiting, heavy bleeding and agonizing pain, she stumbled into a maternity hospital. Doctors rushed her into surgery where they stopped the bleeding, and repaired her perforated uterus, botched in the first abortion attempt.
“I thought everything would be OK,” said Marie, 20, her voice, like her emaciated body, devoid of strength a month into her two-month hospitalization. “If I knew things would end up like this, I wouldn’t have done it. I nearly died.”
Abortion is illegal in Haiti but women and girls are losing their uteruses and their lives as they turn to clandestine, increasingly deadly ways to terminate their pregnancies. These unsafe abortions are leading to a public health crisis in a region with one of the world’s highest rates of unintended pregnancies, experts say.
The long hidden crisis has started to emerge publicly as women’s groups, physicians and human rights advocates push for changes in Haiti’s strict ban on interrupting a pregnancy. The push comes as reports of rape and sexual violence increased after the devastating January 2010 earthquake, and as the country’s moribund economy and adolescent pregnancies make taboo practices such as abortion no longer unthinkable.
“A woman or girl who has decided she cannot keep a pregnancy will find a way, and will accept the health risks that go with an unsafe abortion,” said Catrin Schulte-Hillen, a reproductive health advisor with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Geneva, Switzerland. “There is a huge gap between the reality and legality of abortion. The price we pay … is the lives of women.”
At MSF’s emergency maternity hospital in Delmas where Marie was admitted, women suffering post-abortion complications account for nearly 12 percent of the 560 pregnancy-related admissions the facility averages monthly, staff said. Access to safe abortion care for women is a serious medical-humanitarian issue, the aid group argues, especially in a country like Haiti where more women die from pregnancy-related causes than anywhere in the region.
“We know in countries where there has been a legalization or liberalization, as they call it in South Africa, of abortion on request, immediately they have seen an impact on maternal mortality,” Schulte-Hillen said. “And we know that in countries where the legal frame around abortion is restricted, maternal mortality related to unsafe abortion is the highest.”
When a 7.0 earthquake buckled the ground nearly four years ago, it unearthed many of this nation’s buried social ills. Tent cities exploded, and so did pregnancies. As Human Rights Watch and other groups documented the alarming “tent babies” crisis, doctors and nurses quietly noted the increased cases of incomplete abortions and premature bleeding by women, said Amanda Klasing of Human Rights Watch.
The troubling diagnosis eventually prompted an investigation by the Haitian Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (SHOG) that found widespread use of the drug misoprostol in camps. Sold without a prescription under the brand name Cytotec, the anti-ulcer drug also induces abortion, experts said.
While the small pill has been linked to saving women’s lives in places where abortion is highly restricted or illegal, in Haiti’s unregulated pharmacy-on-foot environment, incorrect doses also lead to death and suffering.
Haiti’s health ministry, which has sought to take charge of the abortion debate, has estimated that unsafe abortions account for 20 percent to 30 percent of maternal mortality. But the reality is, the annual number of abortion-related deaths is unknown.
Fearful of criminal prosecution, health facilities don’t always register cases like Marie’s. Even an attempt by the health ministry to track abortion in its most recent nationwide survey came with a disclaimer: it’s difficult to accurately measure incidents of abortion because of its legal ban, and cultural, social and religious stigmatization, the report said.
Like many women seeking care from a failed abortion, Marie didn’t tell MSF doctors what she had done when she arrived on Sept. 5. Her pregnancy and the perforated uterus were later detected with an ultrasound, said Dr. Rodnie Senat-Delva, the hospital’s medical director.
“Her condition was very bad,” Senat-Delva said.
Marie later told the Miami Herald that a clinic in the Cité Soleil slum had attempted to remove the fetus by shoving an unknown object inside her.
Uterine perforation, Senat-Delva said, is a common complication among Haitian women under 20 years old. Sometimes the goal isn’t even to successfully abort the fetus but to provoke bleeding by using hangers, bicycle spokes or other objects, so that a woman can see a qualified doctor.
“When they come to the hospital, we have to do something because it’s life-saving,” Senat-Delva said. “They have to go to surgery and more often, they lose their uterus very young. They have to live all of their lives without having the possibility of becoming pregnant again. This is really the reality.”
Marie said she was forced to wait until her 16th week to abort because she didn’t have the $20 the “doctor” charged. If Marie had the money, she could have spared herself the punishing ordeal. Qualified doctors charge at least $300 to secretly do the procedures in their private clinics, or even a hospital.
In an overwhelmingly poor Haiti, where seven out of 10 people live on less than $2 a day, it is poor women who suffer the most from the abortion ban, said Danièle Magloire, who helped conduct one of the few abortion studies in Haiti.
“Women with means have abortions under good conditions. The majority don’t have means and they have abortions under bad conditions,” she said. “This is a social injustice because it’s all based on your means. A lot of women are dying because a lot of abortions are taking place under bad conditions.”
Magloire said abortion came close to being legalized in Haiti in 1998 after she and other feminists presented a proposed law to the Haitian parliament. The proposal, however, never made it out of the Haitian Senate. Despite her ongoing legalization push, Magloire concedes that getting Haiti’s abortion ban lifted could be much tougher this time around because current parliamentarians are much more conservative. Some human rights advocates, meanwhile, have lobbied a presidential commission charged with overhauling Haiti’s archaic criminal laws, which are based on Napoleonic code, to do away with the ban entirely.
Amid the daily hustle on the streets of this clogged capital, market women hawk traditional herbs known to provoke bleeding in pregnant women on one side, while men, carrying oversized cone-shaped buckets, hustle on the other. The walking pharmacies are loaded with colorful packets of unregulated antibiotics — and Cytotec. One pill could sell for as much as $3.50.
Not far from the largest public hospital are rows of clinics; some are de facto abortion mills.
One seedy clinic tucked off a crowded street could be easily overlooked. It accepts only referrals. Inside, a receptionist and security guard sitting on tattered fake leather furniture laugh heartily at an American crime movie blaring in French. The receptionist looks away just long enough to ask a visitor, “Who referred you?”
After more than an hour, the wooden door opens and a young woman steps out. She leaves quickly. The doctor motions to step into his cramped office that also doubles as an examination room.
“If you had come here yesterday, you would not have been able to see me. It was nonstop from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” said the doctor, wearing a white coat, who asked for his name to be withheld because his $80 abortions are illegal.
He shows a month’s worth of records. There are nearly 300, including that of a young girl who terminated a pregnancy at five months with her parents’ consent.
“You don’t call that an abortion,’’ he clarified, “you call that a delivery.”
As a small TV fields images of an exterior surveillance camera, the man leans back in his chair. He boasts that doing an “abortion is like cocaine. Once you start, you can’t stop because the money is so good.”
Feminists and human rights activists say unregulated mills and unscrupulous doctors are why Haiti’s ban needs reform, because women’s lives are being put at risk.
“Having abortion that is legal and that is regulated, and allowing health centers to openly provide quality care across the board to women, ensures healthier women and girls,” said Klasing of Human Rights Watch, which supports legalization.
But the crisis isn’t just confined to the capital.
At a rural clinic in Petite Rivière in the Artibonite Valley, at least 20 women a month are admitted for abortion-related complications, said Dr. Eddy Jonas, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the clinic.
The numbers spike, he said, during the abortion peak. Just like the birth peak — it begins with premature births five months after the pre-Lenten carnival — the abortion peak is the two to three months after the festivities.
“The problem has taken on a dimension where it’s screaming to come out of hiding,” said Jonas, who works as women’s health coordinator for Boston-based Partners In Health. Haitian women, he said, are aborting for all kinds of reasons.
“Abortion was something that wasn’t accepted in the Haitian culture,” Jonas said. “But with the changes that have occurred in the people’s economic situation, you start to find people reconsidering values they once held. ”
Shrouded in secrecy, the decision is often motivated by fear and shame in a country where the Roman Catholic Church — it has traditionally opposed abortion — is deeply rooted, and Evangelical Christians are gaining a strong grip post-quake. The faith community voiced its opposition to legalized abortion during a recent health ministry workshop.
“We don’t encourage abortion but recognize that in certain cases, such as the life of the mother being in danger, it may be a consideration. But it’s a decision that should not be solely taken by a doctor,” said the Rev. Sylvain Exantus, president of the Federation of Protestants in Haiti, which along with the Catholic Church, has formed committees to study the issue. “In no case should abortion be used as a method of family planning.”
Exantus said they encourage abstinence for young people and birth control for married people.
“Legalized abortion will encourage prostitution, and irresponsible behavior. We need to educate the population, especially the youth,” he said. “If that education happens, we will have less problems.”
The health ministry has asked religious leaders, physicians, human rights activists and feminists to help craft an abortion bill. It wants consensus for allowing therapeutic abortion in the case of rape, incest, and if the life of the mother or fetus is at risk, said Dr. Reynold Grand’ Pierre, the director of family health for Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population.
“We decided it was time to address things frankly, the way they actually are,” said Grand’ Pierre, who acknowledges that the ministry’s work is slow and difficult.
In Haiti, a doctor or healthcare professional who performs an abortion can face five to 15 years of hard labor, while a woman who self-aborts can face three to nine years in prison. The law governing abortion is based on an 1810 French law, and states that the unborn child is a life. There is disagreement in Haiti about whether a clause in the code allows for termination when the life of the mother is at risk. Some legal experts say it does, but several doctors, including Grand’ Pierre, say it does not.
Grand’ Pierre, an obstetrician-gynecologist, doesn’t think Haiti is ready for legalized abortion. He advocates a measured approach.
“We are living in a hypocritical society,” he said, noting how Haitians often use religion as a barrier. “But even with religion, clandestine abortions are taking place.”
A 2009 study by SHOG, the Haitian physicians group, showed that 41 percent of those surveyed said they had used Cytotec, but most people do not favor legalized abortion. The paradox isn’t lost on Dr. Vladimir Larsen, the head of SHOG. He said while legalization is an issue for Haitians to debate, doctors desperately need termination guidelines.
“There are certain situations where we are medically obligated to intervene. And the law doesn’t authorize us to do it,” said Larsen, advocating “regularization” over legalization. “Even when we do, we put ourselves at risk, where the law requires us to be sanctioned.
“Even in cases of a rape, which can have psychological repercussions, the law doesn’t permit for you to intervene on their behalf,” he said.
The first time Jocelyne, 17, realized she was pregnant after being raped by a relative’s husband, she aborted the pregnancy. She took misoprostol, she said, without complications. But the man continued violating her, she and her lawyer said on a recent Sunday in a rural city south of Haiti’s capital. After the fifth violation, she was pregnant again.
The man offered to give her medication to terminate, she said. “I refused, so people could see,” she said, hoping her growing bump would finally free her of the sexual assaults.
Asked if she could love a baby that results from a rape, Jocelyne, in her child-like voice, said, “I’ll manage to love it.”
“If you ask me my personal opinion, I believe it’s a double victimization when a woman, after having been a victim of violence, becomes pregnant and is obligated to hold onto the pregnancy,” Grand’ Pierre said.
“For the moment, you are at the mercy of any district attorney,” he said. “And he has the law on his side.”
Information on the prosecution of cases involving abortions in Haiti is sketchy, though a court clerk acknowledged there was currently an allegation being investigated by a judge.
Port-au-Prince’s district attorney Francisco René said prosecuting abortion is not a priority for him, but he’s legally obligated to act if someone files a complaint.
Editor’s note: The Miami Herald changed the names of the young women who had abortions to protect their identities.
Click HERE for original.
The situation for Dominicans of Haitian descent is even worse after an elderly couple was killed near the border. Now in addition to the deportations that were already happening, some are willingly leaving DR in fear of the violence caused by this event.Dominicans expel 244 Haitians over border killings
Associated Press, The Washington Post
November 24, 2013
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The Dominican Republic expelled at least 244 Haitians after an elderly Dominican couple was slain in an apparent burglary near the border between the two countries and a mob retaliated by killing a Haitian man, two migrant advocates said Sunday.
The Rev. Antoine Lissaint of Haiti’s Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Organization told The Associated Press that a group of Dominicans killed the man because they blamed people of Haitian descent for the fatal stabbing of the couple.
Dominican police issued a statement saying Jose Mendez Diaz and Luja Encarnacion Diaz, both 70, were killed during an apparent home burglary in which the killers got away with two sacks of coffee. Detectives found a knife and stick at the scene.
There was no comment from the Dominican government.
A group of Haitians who had been living in the southwestern Dominican town of Neiba the past several years sought refuge at a police station because they feared further reprisals, Lissaint said. Police handed the group over to soldiers who drove them to the border and expelled them to Haiti on Saturday.
Migrant advocates said some of the people sent out of the Dominican Republic were eager to leave because they feared they would be more mob violence.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic have a long history of acrimony as neighbors on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. But relations between the two have worsened since a Dominican court decision in September threatened to revoke citizenship for residents of the Dominican Republic of Haitian descent.
Jean-Baptiste Azolin, deputy coordinator for the Support Group for Repatriates and Refugees, said not all the people who were repatriated were picked up at the police station.
“Some of them were caught in the streets, with their children, and were sent to Haiti — like that, without anything,” Azolin said.
Workers for the Haitian government’s National Office of Migration greeted the expelled Haitians and others of Haitian descent, many of them mothers with their children, including a 3-day-old boy. They were taken to a shelter north of the capital, Port-au-Prince, where they received food. They were also each given the equivalent of $22 to help them return to their former Haitian towns.
“Some people (here) have their children in the Dominican Republic, and they don’t know where they are,” Fritz Jimani, one of the deported people, said in Spanish.
Azolin, who was at the shelter, said the actual number of people who were deported, and were eager to leave the Dominican Republic because of fears of mob violence, could be more than the 244 initially reported. He said 252 people had showed up at the shelter claiming to be among those expelled and there was a report that a Dominican bus carrying 75 more deportees was en route to the border.
The Haitian government objected to the deportation. Salim Succar, an adviser to Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, said in an email: “We have taken certain measures to welcome these people ?and disapprove of the way this repatriation was done.”
Human rights advocates say the Dominican citizenship ruling could disenfranchise more than 200,000 people, many of whom have lived there for years or decades, stripping them of the documents they need to work and attend school and denying them passports needed to travel overseas.
The Dominican government announced Friday that it has developed a plan to resolve the legal status of people who could lose their citizenship because of the ruling. Details are to be released once a decree is signed and takes effect in the coming days.
Associated Press Television News contributed to this report.
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Don’t miss the 3rd annual Haiti Movie Awards at Lombardo’s Hall in Randolph!
WHY: The purpose of the ceremony is to honor the hard work of historically important artists that have been an essential cornerstone in shaping the Haitian movie industry. We will also reward the current efforts of the vibrant talents in the Haitian movie industry today.
Click HERE to see the event page.
This article details how darker-skinned Dominicans and ones with French-sounding last names are being deported on the assumption that they’re Haitian, because of the Constitutional Court ruling in September. Once in Haiti, many of these people have no options but to try to sneak back into DR because they have no ties with Haiti anymore.Court ruling on citizenship leaves some stranded in Haiti, boosts fears in Dominican Republic
Associated Press, Fox News
November 21, 2013
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI – Wilver Cuevas Betances was born in the Dominican Republic and never left until he ran into some soldiers at a bus station in Santo Domingo who demanded his passport.
“I don’t have a passport. I’m Dominican,” the 29-year-old recalls telling the soldiers. Ignoring his pleas, his perfect Spanish, and the Dominican identification card showing his birthplace, they deported him the following day across the border to Haiti.
Four days later, after a night on a park bench in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, he sat in wrinkled clothes in the office of a migrant assistance group, struggling to make himself understood in the unfamiliar language of Creole, the French-based language spoken in Haiti.
“I have nothing here,” he said. “I don’t know anyone.”
Migrant advocates are bracing for more abrupt deportations to impoverished Haiti as a result of a recent Dominican court ruling that narrows the definition of citizenship. So far, there have not been mass deportations, but there are growing accounts of people being summarily kicked out of the country, in some cases apparently based solely on the color of their skin.
“Blacks are hardly going out because they’re picking up a lot of dark-skinned people,” Cuevas said in an interview Thursday at the office of the Support Group for Repatriates and Refugees, a nongovernmental organization.
In September, the Dominican Constitutional Court ruled that being born in the country does not automatically grant citizenship, and it directed officials to purge voter rolls of non-citizens, including people born to non-legal residents going back to 1929. Advocates say 200,000 people could be stripped of citizenship, along with the documents they need to work or attend school, although the government says an initial count came to about 24,000.
The ruling, based on a new 2010 constitution, is a reflection of deep hostility in the Dominican Republic to the vast number of Haitians who have come to live in their country, many brought in to work in the sugar industry and their descendants.
“Deportations have been fairly steady since 2007. Using the court ruling as a justification is new,” said Tobias Metzner, a Haiti-based counter-trafficking program manager for the International Organization for Migration. “The legal context has changed.”
Cesar Pina Toribio, a legal adviser to Dominican President Danilo Medina, made a lengthy defense of the government position to the Organization of American States last month, arguing that the country seeks only to gain control over its citizenship rolls and will develop a path to permanent legal residency.
But no details have been provided, and the law is already having consequences.
There are accounts of people who have been reported to immigration authorities and deported after squabbling with their neighbors or being abruptly thrown out of the country at a time when their employers are having financial difficulties, Metzner said. Migrants say they have paid bribes to soldiers to keep from being detained, or were held when they couldn’t come up with enough cash, said Colette Lespinasse, director of the Support Group for Repatriates and Refugees, known by its French acronym as GARR.
And there are widespread reports that authorities are deporting or seizing the residency documents of people with darker skin or French names that may signal Haitian ancestry.
People like 23-year-old Dilsia Teresa Jean, who has lived her whole life in a town northwest of Santo Domingo, fear venturing into the capital. “I’m afraid they are going to arrest me,” she said. “The bus drivers give us strange looks.”
Soldiers appear to have misinterpreted the law when they detained Cuevas. A bricklayer by trade, he says his only connection to neighboring Haiti is that a dead grandfather was Haitian. Even under the September court ruling, people with at least one legal-resident parent would still be Dominican citizens, says Pina, the Dominican president’s legal adviser. The case underscores what advocates say is a complicated, retroactive ruling that is having many unintended consequences.
Being sent to Haiti, meanwhile, is to be essentially cast adrift. The country has recovered substantially from the devastating January 2010 earthquake, but it has a barely functioning economy and jobs are scarce. The World Bank says nearly 80 percent of the people live on less than $2 a day.
In Jimani, an arid and somewhat seedy Dominican border town that swirls with chalky dust, there are hundreds of Haitians, many living in shacks of plywood and corrugated tin with small gardens fenced off by dried stalks of sugar cane. Soldiers seem to largely ignore the many non-legal residents in the border zone, giving it the feel of a no-man’s land.
Among the Haitians in Jimani is Marcial Luis, who says he was deported from the Dominican Republic in September when he went to a government office in Santo Domingo to help a friend fill out some paperwork and the clerk demanded his identity card and then confiscated it. Luis, who has spent half his life in the Dominican Republic, where he has a wife and five grown children, was quickly deported to Haiti. He made his way to the border region, hoping to return to Santo Domingo.
“I’m a 63-year-old with man nothing, without a place to live,” he said, his voice breaking with emotion.
Migrant advocates say people who get sent to Haiti nearly always turn around and try to go back. Lespinasse, director of GARR, said her organization attempts to find relatives in Haiti to take them in but often they have been gone too long to have any connection to the country.
Their plight is getting noticed. Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have called attention to the situation as has Lespinasse’s organization, which gets backing from the American Jewish World Service. The Caribbean Community has urged the Dominican Republic not to disenfranchise migrants and called an emergency meeting to discuss the issue.
Lespinasse and others are working one case at a time. With Cuevas, her group will petition the government to allow him to return, but notes there are many like him and likely more to come.
“They have everything there,” she said of the Dominican Republic. “They have their relatives. They have their money. They have their work.”
Associated Press writer Ezequiel Abiu Lopez in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, contributed to this report.
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Join IJDH’s legal team for a live conference call on Wednesday, November 20, on recent developments in our landmark litigation to hold the UN accountable for introducing cholera to Haiti.
Cholera has killed over 8,300 and sickened over 684,000 Haitians since October 2010, when the UN indisputably and recklessly introduced the bacteria to Haiti’s principal river. Last month, BAI and IJDH filed a groundbreaking class action lawsuit against the UN in federal court in New York, seeking damages and life-saving water and sanitation for the thousands of victims.
IJDH Director Brian Concannon and Staff Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom will be sharing about our advocacy strategies, why we filed the case in the U.S., and where we plan to go from here. Come with your questions for the question and answer section.
Date: Wednesday, November 20, 5-6 pm EST (2-3 pm PT)
Conference call number: 641-715-3200; Access Code 98027#
For background, read our complaint and recent media highlights covering the case:
If you have any questions, please contact Kem Picard at email@example.com. We look forward to discussing with you.
This article highlights UN human rights violations around the world, including cholera in Haiti, and describes why absolute immunity is a huge problem.Should the UN’s legal immunity continue?
Ildi Amon, World News Australia Radio
November 14, 2013
(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)
United Nations personnel have been linked to instances of war crimes, sex offences, and torture.
And accusations that the UN caused a cholera epidemic that’s killed thousands of people in Haiti have again focused attention on the international organisation’s legal immunity.
Ildi Amon reports.
Under the 1946 Convention on the UN’s Privileges and Immunities, the world body has been able to avoid prosecution in national and international courts world-wide.
But some experts say the UN shouldn’t have blanket legal immunity.
Professor of international law at the King’s College in London, Guglielmo Verdirame, says the UN often fulfils government-like functions, and there should be mechanisms for accountability.
“The United Nations exercises a very wide range of functions from peacekeeping, to administration of territory to the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the exercise of these functions, particularly in situations of conflict, is far from easy. It’s a very difficult task the UN has taken on and I think the organisation takes it very seriously and in many ways does its best. But it comes with the exercise of these powers that there will be risks to the liberty and the human rights of individuals.”
The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti – for example – says the UN was careless in its peacekeeping mission following the earthquake there in 2010.
It claims UN peacekeepers from Nepal brought cholera to Haiti and that a lack of proper sanitation at a UN camp resulted in a cholera outbreak that’s killed 8,000 Haitians and made hundreds of thousands of others ill.
The non-government organisation is now taking action in a United States court and asking for compensation and an apology.
Director of the Institute Brian Concannon says the group is suing the UN because of its refusal to establish an alternative justice system.
“So this was the UN, because of its impunity problem, not taking the ordinary care that an individual or business would take just knowing that there would be consequences for polluting the environment. And that’s why this case is important not only to make the UN to stand up to its principles about the rule of law but also for the UN to exercise reasonable care to prevent harm to populations that it serves.”
Researcher at the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland, Roisin Burke, says while most UN personnel do the right thing, sex crime allegations are not unusual.
She says it’s more prevalent in chaotic operations or where ongoing conflicts or humanitarian disasters have reduced law enforcement.
“It’s been particularly widespread in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where there’s been numerous allegations of peacekeepers engaging in sexual interactions with both women who are engaging in prostitution for survival and also with children. There’s been numerous cases across UN missions – most recently in Haiti there’s been a cases of a gang rape of an 18 year old boy by five Uruguyan marines that were deployed on UN operation MINUSTAH in Haiti. And there was also last year two Pakistani police were prosecuted for the rape of a 14 year old Haitian boy while deployed in Haiti.”
Roisin Burke says in the former Yugoslavia, there were even allegations of UN police assisting in the trafficking of women for prostitution.
And she says in Somalia in the 1990s, UN peacekeepers were responsible for violating human rights.
“A teenage boy was tortured to death and killed by UN troops and there was instances of children being hooded and tortured and tied up and made to drink salt water and eat pork.”
The UN says it has a zero tolerance policy in relation to sex offences by its personnel, and has established better reporting mechanisms for victims.
But when it comes to UN peacekeepers, host countries always sign away their right to prosecute for wrongdoing.
This means that host countries have to rely on the home countries to prosecute any accused individuals.
King’s College professor Guglielmo Verdirame says the actions of Dutch-UN troops in the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica in 1995 brought this to worldwide attention.
“Srebrenica was a safe area which had been established under a Security Council mandate and thousands of civilians had found refuge there they were under the protection of the Dutch contingent of the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. And when the Serb forces arrived the Dutch peacekeepers essentially gave up without even trying to defend the civilians and the result has been described in various investigations and judicial decisions as an act of genocide.”
This year the Dutch Supreme Court ruled The Netherlands government is legally responsible for some of the civilian deaths that occurred in Srebrenica, and should pay compensation to their families.
Lawyer for the victims’ families Liesbeth Zegveld says the landmark ruling has implications for other UN peacekeepers.
“It’s legally very important because for the first time there has been a decision on the division of responsibility between the UN and member states during a peacekeeping operation. The court held that also member states can be held responsible in peacekeeping operations and not just the UN. And we all know that the UN has immunity in court so that means that finally there seems to be a remedy for victims.”
International law professor at the Seton Hall Law School in the United States, Kristen Boon, also believes it’s time to look at the UN’s legal immunity.
She says while the UN frequently investigates relatively minor matters involving its personnel, like traffic accidents, it has never established a review tribunal for serious accusations against peacekeepers.
However, Professor Boon points out that the UN does sometimes commission independent reports into allegations made about its operations.
And she says changes may result from a forthcoming report into the final stages of the civil war in Sri Lanka in 2009, when the UN was accused of failing to do enough to protect civilians when thousands were reportedly killed.
“It’s possible the UN will decide to go to a more concrete human rights direction after the UN responds to this report but that is not out yet but many are predicting this may actually signal a turning point in terms of how the UN decides to respond to these kinds of things in the future.”
King’s College professor Guglielmo Verdirame says the UN also has the option of waiving its immunity but it has only done so in rare cases, for example, when UN officials have been accused of corruption.
But Professor Verdirame says national courts might become more reluctant to leave the UN’s absolute immunity untouched.
“I think absolute immunity is problematic for a state or for an organisation because it clashes with an idea of justice and ideas of human rights that are quite deep-seated the idea that there should be an organisation that is above the law is very problematic.”
The group bringing the action for cholera victims in Haiti has previously asked for compensation worth billions of dollars.
But Professor Verdirame says even if it’s legal action is successful, monetary compensation is unlikely.
“I just don’t see any court really accepting enforcement measures against assets of the United Nations. So in practice no one will pay. The obligation would be an obligation for the organisation as a whole but the figure is two billion there certainly wouldn’t be enough money in the budget of the UN so there would have to be a special contribution.”
Click HERE for original article and audio.
Saturday 11/17, members of the Martelly government went to Milot, as part of the “Gouvenman an Lakay ou” (translation: The Government is at Your House) program. They discussed things the administration plans to implement from tourism to education.Haiti – Politic : «Gouvènman an lakay ou» in Milot, many announcements
November 18, 2013
Saturday in Milot, in the heart of Sans Souci Palace, thousands of citizens have welcomed the Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe and members of the Government at the 3rd exit of program “Gouvènman an lakay ou”. This space for dialogue between the Martelly administration and local people, took place around of thematics including : tourism, infrastructure, social programs and education.
In the presence of local authorities as well as many parliamentarians, including Deputy Jacques Stevenson Thimoléon, President in the Lower House, of the majority pro-government political bloc “Parliamentarians for Stability and Progress” (PSP), of deputiesKenston Jean-Baptiste, Job Jolicoeur, Ronald Larèche and Marie Jossie Étienne ; the citizens of Milot exchanged with the authorities on the achievements of the government to improve their living conditions.
Because of the historical significance of the region, the focus was on the renovation of the Citadelle La Ferrière of King Henri Christophe, an architectural masterpiece, that the Lamothe government intends to protect and pass on to future generations, recalling that in Milot, the government started the construction of reception facilities to showcase to the maximum the tourism potential of the area and rehabilitate the access roads.
The Palace Sans Souci, priceless heritage, is also part of the government’s priorities and will soon be renovated. Officials of the Institute for the Protection of National Heritage (ISPAN) estimate between 4 to 5 million dollars the amount needed to make this work. The Prime Minister announced that the government is committed to invest $1 million for the completion of the first phase.
The Head of Government stressed that many studies are underway throughout the region : the Baie de l’Acul was equipped with a wharf and reception kiosks and for the artisans were erected in Ouanaminthe and Choiseul, in order to support the efforts of artisans and other professionals in the tourism sector. Laurant Lamothe also announced that the rehabilitation of the village of Labadie, will be launched in 2014 and by next year, with funding from the World Bank, the construction of a two-lane road linking the Cap-Haitien and Labadee beach, one of the main attractions of the department.
Adding that many stretches of road, bridges and structures will also be constructed and/or rehabilitated, noting that the road from the Baie de l’Acul and Baryè batan, 22 km long, is under construction and will open in mid 2014. The Prime Minister said in that the scuppers in Limbé, the bridges thrown into the mouth of the river from the haut du Cap re mostly funded from the Treasury.
The Prime Minister, who made education a priority, according to the vision of President Martelly, took the opportunity to announce the award, on contest, of 15 scholarships in friendly countries, for the youth of the town of Milot .
Stéphanie Villedrouin Balmir, Minister of Tourism, for her part, thanked Ms. Josette Darguste, the acting Minister of Culture as well as his collaborators of ISPAN, who carried out the redevelopment works of Sans Souci Palace and the Citadelle La Ferrière, of major sites of tourist attractions that have made it possible to create more opportunities for direct employment for young people of Milot and its surroundings. She also welcomed the continuing education program set up for tourist guides that should work on historic sites of the Northern Region.
The Prime Minister Lamothe gave instructions to the Minister of Public Works, Jacques Rousseau, so that the rehabilitation of the Cathedral of the Place de la Cathédrale of the rue 18, be promptly started announcing further that 1,500 jobs will be created in Milot, as part of a program of recycling of waste plastic.
Click HERE for original.
Join the Haiti Advocacy Working Group for a panel in DC, on the origins of the cholera epidemic, the legal implications regarding the UN, the impact on the Haitian people, and the path forward for cholera’s elimination.
Monday, November 18 2013, 10-11:30am
United States Congress
2226 Rayburn House Office Building
There have been over 8300 fatalities in Haiti due to cholera and there’s no end in sight.
Jonathan Katz is a journalist and author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Former Associated Press correspondent in Haiti, who in the fall of 2010 broke the story that UN peacekeepers were likely responsible for— and covering up their role in— the cholera epidemic.
Muneer Ahmad is a Clinical Professor of Law, Yale Law School, and faculty supervisor of the study Peacekeeping Without Accountability: The United Nations’ Responsibility for the Haitian Cholera Epidemic, which has been widely featured in national and international media outlets, including the Washington Post and the New York Times.
Dr. Jean Ford Figaro is the Director of Outreach and Advocacy for the “Kolera Jistis Project,” which mobilizes the Haitian diaspora against cholera in Haiti and is the spokesperson for The Collective Solidarity towards Cholera Victims.
RSVPs are appreciated. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coffee and pastries with the panelists beginning at 9:30am.
Original event announcement HERE.
WHAT: A fundraising reception to benefit Jou Nouvo adult literacy program in Haiti
Special Guests include long-time advocates for democracy, human rights, and social justice in Haiti: Perry Dougherty, Associate Director, Still Harbor; and Brian Concannon Jr., Esq. Director, Institute of Justice and Democracy in Haiti
WHERE: Still Harbor
- 666 Dorchester Ave
- Boston MA 02127
WHEN: Thursday November 14, 2013 6-8pm
WHY: 100% of proceeds go to teacher salaries and construction of classroom space for Jou Nouvo’s Adult Literacy Program in Haiti
MORE DETAILS: Please RSVP to Kerline Tofuri (781-588-4555, Kerline@pidonline.org) or Claudia Green (617-417-3237, email@example.com). The suggested contribution is $35 per person & there will be delicious Haitian food to sample.
Jou Nouvo works in Partnership with Partners In Development, Inc. 501 (c) (3)
Click HERE to visit their website.
This article summarizes a very well-done segment (see bottom of post) by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on how the UN’s response to cholera in Haiti is affecting their response to the disaster in the Phillippines. The CBC piece features Steven Lewis, former Canadian Ambassador to the UN, and IJDH’s own Nicole Phillips.CBC News examines implications of Haiti cholera lawsuit for UN operations worldwide, including in the Philippines
Roger Annis, Vancouver Observer
November 14, 2013
This evening, a very informative and revealing story about the lawsuit against the United Nations over cholera in Haiti was broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s national evening news program, The World At Six. The report began, “The United Nations is among those leading the effort to get aid to the Philippines. But even as it helps out with this natural disaster, it is haunted by the ghosts of another.”
It is the most comprehensive news report to date by the CBC on the Haiti cholera story. The report broke some new ground by looking at the implications worldwide for UN operations as a result of the world body’s conduct in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, including its stonewalling of the victims of the cholera epidemic. Those implications, says the CBC report, are playing out in the Philippines in the wake of the Typhoon Haiyan tragedy.
Reporter Laura Lynch said the UN’s responsibility for the cholera outbreak in October 2010 is now established beyond dispute. In the broadcast, she speaks to one of the victims who is suing the UN.
She also speaks to former Canadian ambassador to the UN, Stephen Lewis. He says the UN should own up for its conduct and compensate the victims. When asked if that could harm the UN or compromise future UN operations, he replies, “No, I don’t think it would compromise the UN. In fact, I think it would do the UN a lot of good to be seen as principled in the face of having caused so much devastation.”
Lewis says the lawsuit is already affecting UN operations. He cites the fact that the world body has dispatched its top emergency relief official to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. Valerie Amos is the UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and is now in the Philippines to help lead the relief effort. Lewis told the CBC, “That says to me that they’ve learned from Haiti. That says to me, ‘We made a profound mistake. We didn’t have the … gravitas at the top in Haiti to be able to govern what the Nepalese soldiers did, but, by God, we’re not going to make that mistake again.’”
Still, Lynch reports, the UN has so far refused to discuss or negotiate the Haiti case. A staff attorney of one of the legal offices directing the suit, Nicole Phillips of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, tells the broadcast that this could have serious consequences for future UN operations. “Countries won’t want the UN to enter [their territories] and there is going to be a big crisis of relevance and credibility of the UN,” she said. “Unfortunately, we think that is already happening.”
Following the earthquake, the lead humanitarian coordinator of the UN in Haiti was a Canadian, Nigel Fisher. After the cholera epidemic struck in October 2010, Fisher acted as the point man for UN denial. In February of this year, he became the lead civilian official of the UN’s MINUSTAH mission in Haiti on an interim basis. He left his UN posting in Haiti altogether in May.
The cholera outbreak in Haiti has infected more than 690,000 people and the death total is nearly 8,500, and rising. Haiti’s population is close to ten million.
Click HERE for original.
This article questions why women’s safety never seems to be a priority in disaster situations around the world, even when funds have been allocated to prevent gender-based violence.Why is global women’s safety placed at bottom of list with relief action?
Marcy Hersh, Women News Network
November 12, 2013
(WNN/RI) Port-au-Prince, Haiti, CARIBBEAN, AMERICAS: There is always a convenient excuse. In Haiti, we don’t have the time. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we don’t have the funding. In the Syrian refugee response, we don’t have the experts. Somehow, there is always a pat answer to why we, the humanitarian community, fail to protect women and girls in emergency after emergency.
In Haiti, when the earthquake hit in January 2010 and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, reports immediately emerged that women and girls were extremely vulnerable to rape and other forms of violence. This awareness did not lead to effective action.
Of the $1.4 billion requested for earthquake relief, less than 0.3 percent went to gender-based violence prevention or response. When humanitarians were asked to mitigate women’s risks through simple measures (like placing latrines in safe locations, ensuring equitable access to food distributions, and building safe shelters) they declined, saying that these actions were not a priority. They claimed there just wasn’t enough time to respond to the needs of women and girls.
In eastern DRC, significant resources have been allocated for gender-based violence programs over the years. That has led to the assumption that because funding is generous, the needs of women and girls are actually being addressed. But in truth, humanitarians have extremely limited access to these funds when they really need them: the moment when an emergency hits.
As I reported earlier this year, these resources are exclusively linked to longer-term stability initiatives and not emergency response. Also, as a result of poor leadership and bureaucratic delays, the UN has allowed a $4 million donation for gender-based violence programming to languish in a bank account for a year. Without these funds, humanitarians are struggling to operate with extremely limited resources.
In the Syrian refugee crisis, too, urgent needs have gone unmet. As I reported last year, many Syrian women are fleeing into neighboring countries to escape the threat of sexual violence. Yet even in exile, they struggle to find safe refuge. At the time, two years into the Syrian crisis, there was still extremely limited funding for gender-based violence services and few experts on the ground.
Experience has shown that every single humanitarian crisis puts women and girls at great risk. Yet in every crisis, advocates must demand anew that their needs be addressed. This should not be necessary. There are international guidelines in place that tell humanitarians what to look for and what steps to take to protect women, but these guidelines are never observed.
It’s getting old. And it doesn’t have to be like this. Humanitarians are extremely efficient at delivering food, water, and shelter to civilians displaced by conflict and disasters. Why aren’t they equally proficient at protecting women and girls from violence? The answer is heartbreakingly simple: women and girls have not been the priority.
But now, there is reason to hope that this tired narrative will finally change. On November 13th, the UK’s Department for International Development will launch the worldwide Call to Action to End Violence Against Women and Girls in Emergencies. Not just another diplomatic chat session, the Call to Action will see donors and humanitarians make concrete promises that will drive systemic and lasting change.
Of course, it will take more than a one-off pledge of funds or a single declaration of intent to reform the humanitarian community. That’s why the Call to Action will look at the historical barriers to implementing gender-based violence programs and address them with targeted and sustained commitments made by key donors, UN agencies, and NGOs in the areas where progress is most needed.
The dream of the Call to Action is that never again will anyone say there isn’t enough time, money, or expertise to protect women’s lives and dignity. Instead, there will be effective programming from the start of every emergency that delivers tangible, measurable improvements in the safety and well-being of women and girls.
I am thrilled to see an event of this size and magnitude dedicated to addressing gender-based violence, and I hope we will seize this unique opportunity. Women and girls around the world deserve no less.
Click HERE for original.