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Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Updated: 3 hours 1 min ago
The U.S. government has a plan to send excess American-grown peanuts to Haiti to feed schoolchildren. For Haitians, this plan is likely to adversely affect the local economy by seeping into local markets and devaluing the already existing, economical peanut industry to negatively affect Haitian peanut farmers. Ted Oswald of the Huffington Post explains the reasons the U.S. wants to send over these peanuts, and why the Haitian farmers are so reluctant to receive this aid.Haitian farmers to the U.S. Government: “No to Free Peanuts!”
Ted Oswald, The Huffington Post
July 23, 2016
The USDA is planning to ship 500 metric tons of dry-roasted U.S. peanuts to Haiti to feed schoolchildren this fall. Ask Haitian peanut farmer St. Abel Pierre her opinion, and she’ll tell you: she’s worried, and she isn’t alone.
Pierre is a lifelong resident of Kabay, an agricultural community set in the rolling hills of Haiti’s Artibonite Valley. She works with a group of ten other farmers in her area who come together to mitigate the effects of the region’s serious drought and worsening soil on their crops. These difficulties make peanut crops all the more important to farmers like her.
Peanuts are versatile, nutritious, and drought-resistant. Pierre makes protein-rich peanut butter for the family from her homegrown peanuts and packs sachets of grilled nuts to send with her grandchildren to school. Peanuts provide financial security and are a means to get cash quickly. For five pounds of peanuts she can get paid $4 – 6.50. By comparison, the same quantity of corn nets her just $.80. Fleurimond Conserve, another lifelong farmer from Kabay, summed it up this way: “Once you have a peanut plant, you have a heart at ease.”
Pierre and Conserve are just a few of an estimated 500,000 people who make up the Haitian peanut value chain. Merchants who sell snacks outside of schools ― primarily women small-business owners ― would be hit hard by the free snacks. So why would the USDA want to import U.S. peanuts to a country where they are already produced and vitally important for Haitian livelihoods?
The short answer is surplus. The 2014 U.S. Farm Bill incentivizes U.S. growers to increase peanut planting even when prices are in decline. This type of market intervention is nothing new. For decades, federal subsidies have encouraged farmers to overproduce and the excess crops end up stored by the USDA. The price of peanut storage could cost as much as $50 million a year over the next four years. USDA’s Stocks-for-Food initiative is a way to dispose of some of its excess peanuts through domestic and international food aid programs.
When USDA announced the Haiti peanut shipment in March in cooperation with the World Food Program and the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture, they said the peanut shipment wpuld serve 140,000 children in existing school feeding programs. They anticipated future shipments of similar sizes and pointed out that U.S. wheat, peas, and vegetable oil are already used in Haitian school feeding programs. Nonetheless, over 60 aid groups did not mince words in a letter sent to the USDA criticizing the plan. The letter, signed by Partners in Health, Oxfam, and Haitian organization PAPDA among others, states “…[T]his program stands to become the latest in a long history of U.S-sponsored programs that have destabilized Haiti’s agricultural sector, driving the nation further into poverty while increasing its dependence on foreign aid.”
For Haitian farmers, the dumping of U.S. agricultural commodities has rocked their communities for decades. In the 1990s, foreign rice flooded Haitian markets when trade barriers were reduced at the U.S. government’s urging. To this day, cheap U.S. rice, flour, and beans dominate the Haitian marketplace, lessening demand for local produce and choking out smallholder farmers. When discussing the USDA peanut shipment, Pierre gave a knowing look and remarked, “It’s a strategy [by the USDA],” and offered a Haitian Creole proverb to sum things up: abitid se vis, habit is vice.Once you start doing something, it’s hard to stop ― so it’s better not to start in the first place!
The USDA argues that:
- The amount of shipped peanuts is so small its impact on local markets will be negligible;
- Haitian peanuts can be contaminated with aflatoxin if stored improperly;
- Specially-packaged peanuts intended for feeding programs won’t seep into local markets.
Opponents respond that:
- Locally sourced, toxin-free peanuts are available in sufficient quantities for feeding programs;
- USDA should help local farmers grow and store peanuts to prevent aflatoxin build up instead of undercutting them;
- Food aid always enters local markets despite best efforts at control.
Even with the criticism, the USDA has not canceled its plans for the first shipment but there are signs behind the scenes that subsequent shipments may be cancelled. This still isn’t enough.
Even if the shipment won’t overwhelm Haitian markets, and even if the U.S. peanuts reach their intended beneficiaries, the shipment reflects bad policy and outdated practice. Malnutrition is a serious problem in Haiti, but USDA’s approach is treating the disease with the wrong medicine. Redoubling efforts to support local farmers like St. Abel, as the U.S. government’s Agency for International Development is already doing and USDA claims to do, and procuring peanuts locally, are better answers than paying to package, ship, and distribute free peanuts to the detriment of Haitian peanut producers and sellers.
When Pierre and Conserve gathered with a group of 60 Kabay farmers to discuss the USDA plan, they wanted to send a message to the USDA: “No to free peanuts!” Haitian farmers have reaped undue hardship under U.S. agricultural policy, and they should not be made to do so again.
Read the original article HERE.
U.S. Senators Ed Markey [D-MA] and Marco Rubio [R-FL] came together on a letter asking that Secretary of State John Kerry appropriately address the cholera outbreak in Haiti. The bipartisan duo demands immediate action, echoing the recent letter to the Secretary sent by 158 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.Cholera Epidemic in Haiti Demands Immediate Action Say U.S. Senators Markey and Rubio
Ed Markey, United States Senator for Massachusetts
July 22, 2016
As Haiti continues to suffer from a cholera epidemic that has resulted in more cases and deaths than any other known cholera outbreak in the Americas, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on the State Department to address the crisis and urge the United Nations (UN) to take responsibility and appropriate steps to remedy the public health emergency. An independent report found that faulty sanitation from the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti introduced the cholera bacteria, which has since led to more than 731,000 suspected cholera cases and nearly 9,000 deaths since 2010.
Read the Press Release from Sen. Markey’s office HERE.
Dear Secretary Kerry,
We write to encourage the State Department engage with the international community to expeditiously address the ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti and urge the United Nations (UN) to remedy this public health emergency. The situations originated from infected members of the UN’s peacekeeping contingent who were in Haiti responding to the humanitarian crisis that emerged after the 2010 earthquake.
As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has struggled to recover from the strongest quake to affect the nation in over two centuries. Today, six years later, over 60,000 people remain displaced and require humanitarian assistance to support their basic needs and protection. Despite an independent report stating that faulty sanitation from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) introduced the cholera bacteria, the UN has refused to take responsibility. Instead, the UN asserted immunity under the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunities, and claimed that a confluence of factors caused the epidemic. While Haitians are denied remuneration or a transparent mechanism to resolve claims for compensation, cholera continues to cause significant morbidity and mortality across the country.
Read the full letter HERE.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Kermshlise Picard, Communications Coordinator, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, firstname.lastname@example.org; +1-617-652-0876 (Interviews available in English, French & Kreyòl).)
Senators demand US lead on UN accountability and immediate action for Haiti cholera
Foreign Relations Committee Members Join Rising Chorus of Voices Supporting Cholera Victims’ Rights
BOSTON, July 25 2016 – U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are calling on the United States to “utilize its leadership position to stress the importance of UN accountability and action to remediate the ongoing impact of cholera in Haiti.”
The two Senators, both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and representing states with substantial Haitian-American constituencies, conveyed their concerns in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on July 21. The letter is the first statement from the Senate regarding accountability for the cholera epidemic introduced to Haiti through reckless disposal of waste at a UN peacekeeper base in 2010, and a rare example of bipartisan advocacy in the U.S. Congress (see also Senator Markey’s press release).
“The calls for accountability are now too pervasive and too loud for the UN to ignore,” said Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). “Especially coming from a U.S. Congress that provides over one fourth of the funding for the UN Peacekeeping and regular budgets.”
The letter notes that while “Haitians are denied remuneration or a transparent mechanism to resolve claims for compensation, cholera continues to cause significant morbidity and mortality across the country,” including over 36,000 sickened and 309 deaths in 2015. It warns of “a sustained presence of the disease without immediate action by global partners, and perhaps more importantly, UN accountability.”
The Senate letter endorses the call made in a June 25 letter signed by 158 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives calling on Secretary Kerry “to ensure that claims related to the cholera outbreak are appropriately and transparently adjudicated, and that the UN institutes proactive measures to reduce risks for the host nations in which it operates.”
Senators Rubio and Markey are adding their voices to others calling for a better UN response, including a majority of the candidates top succeed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the UN’s own human rights experts, editorial boards at the New York Times, The Lancet, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and newspapers around the world, thousands of cholera victims, Haitian-American organizations, public health specialists, former UN Ambassadors and many others. Many actors have particularly stressed the need for Secretary-General Ban to act on cholera before he leaves office in December in order to prevent the cholera crisis from becoming a permanent scar on his legacy.
To date, the UN has rejected claims filed by victims, a move widely viewed as inconsistent with its treaty obligations to settle claims by individuals harmed by its operations. The UN has also claimed immunity from a lawsuit filed in U.S. court, effectively blocking an independent review of its responsibility. The U.S. Government has come to the UN’s defense in the litigation, which is currently pending decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
The United Nations has a long and storied history of mistreating the vulnerable populations it seeks to help. From the withholding of food to those in refugee camps to allegations of sexual assault and abuse by UN Peacekeepers and even the outbreak of cholera in Haiti, the international organization has failed to reform such behavior and hold itself accountable. Immunity from local laws permits UN personnel to exist without repercussions for their actions leading to atrocious crimes against vulnerable populations and protection for aggressors.End the UN’s Legal Immunity
Ian Hurd, The Hill
July 22, 2016
When the United Nations housed Roma refugees in Kosovo, it built their camp next to a lead-smelting plant. For years, the UN ignored the residents’ complaints that toxic waste was causing seizures, miscarriages, brain damage, and more. A UN report last week excoriated the organization for not taking them seriously. It called the organization’s complaints process a “sham” that abused the very people it was supposed to protect. It is well known that the UN operates with impunity when it harms innocent people – Congress and the White House can bring that to an end.
In Central African Republic, French peacekeepers used local teenagers as sex slaves. In Kenya, the UN withheld food from an entire refugee camp to punish people for a protest there. In Haiti in 2010, peacekeepers accidentally contaminated the water supply with cholera and launched an epidemic that has killed 8000 people and counting. In 2012, Pakistani peacekeepers in Haiti repeatedly raped a 14-year old boy. When officials came to investigate, their commanding officer sent the boy to another town so that he could not be interviewed. The local courts are powerless to address any of these wrongs. This is a tragedy for the people who suffer, as well as for the UN and its reputation.
When the UN sends peacekeepers abroad they arrive at their destination in a bubble of legal immunity. No matter how badly things go on the mission, how poorly the peacekeepers behave or what harm they cause, no courts have the capacity to hold them accountable. This is an untenable situation – it’s bad for the UN, bad for the peacekeepers, and especially bad for the people who have no choice but to live under their authority.
The UN is perfectly insulated from legal accountability in any form, civil or criminal. Its founding treaties say that it “shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process” in all its operations, This makes it impossible for individuals to sue the UN for any harm it might cause. In addition, peacekeepers are exempt from local criminal laws. Neither the UN nor its peacekeepers can be brought before local courts. These protections remain in place whether the harms are caused by willful malevolence or mere negligence on the part of the UN. The rapes in the CAR fit the first of these and Haiti’s cholera the second. Both speak to a pervasive lack of effective oversight of field operations, made possible by its immunity.
To make matters worse, individuals have no right to present their own claims claim for damages to the organization. The UN does sometimes pay out compensation, and it sometimes waives the immunity of its officials, but this is at the discretion of the Secretary-General. The three Pakistani peacekeepers were sent back home and the UN decided not to lift their immunity. Their commanding officer was allowed to stay on the job in Haiti. The case was recognized inside the UN as so egregious that it became a ‘poster case’ for better accountability. But none came. Even in the worst cases, the people who are harmed by the UN are shut out, and the organization continues as before.
Two simple changes would go a long way toward holding the UN accountable. First, the State Department should issue a statement recognizing the UN’s legal immunity as functional rather than absolute. The original UN Charter gave the UN immunity only for acts necessary to its public duties, not for cholera and rape. But the US has for many years taken the view that the organization should be entirely untouchable by domestic courts. And so, when cholera victims tried to sue the UN in New York the US government reminded the judges of this broad interpretation of immunity and encouraged them to dismiss the suits. This creeping extension of immunity is a mistake. The US should push the UN back to the black-letter law of the Charter. This would set a model for other countries to follow and open the door to legal accountability. The same limited version of immunity should apply to individual peacekeepers so that they become subject to the jurisdiction of local criminal courts.
Second, every new UN peacekeeping operation should include an office tasked with considering claims for damage by private individuals. This would give local people someone to appeal to when they suffer at the hands of the UN. While every peacekeeping agreement between the UN and the host government already includes the possibility of a ‘claims commission’ of this kind, not a single one has actually been brought on line by the UN. A pathway for private claims should be mandatory for all missions.
Defenders of the UN will counter that the organization must be free from legal liability in order to function effectively. To take one pressing example, it is easy to imagine that fears of liability could make the UN unwilling to house refugees who have fled the Syrian war. So many things could go wrong that the UN might simply decide it is not worth the risk. This could leave a highly vulnerable population even more adrift.
This sad scenario offers a false choice between a reckless UN and an immobile one. Neither is acceptable. The potential for legal liability would induce the UN to improve its operations. It would encourage those in charge to take a realistic look at all acts that might be legally attributed to the organization and think harder about how to hold those who act its name accountable for their actions.
The business sector has taught us that corporations perform poorly when internal oversight is weak. If subordinates are unaccountable to superiors and the costs of bad choices are not felt by the firm then those in the executive suite have little incentive to care about what is happening down the chain of command. This same holds at the UN. While legal accountability cannot fix everything in UN operations, it is a crucial first step to empower local people in situations where things have gone wrong.
To be sure, ending the UN’s special privileges would increase the legal and financial risks of UN operations. It might require that the organization buy insurance, monitor its peacekeepers, and on occasion pay compensation when it makes a mess of things. These are reasonable costs that should be internalized by the organization as part of the cost of doing business. At present, those costs are being exported onto the people the UN purports to be serving. Compared to the children of CAR and the people of Haiti, the UN is rich and powerful. It can afford the costs and risks that accompany its global operations.
By demanding that the UN accept a greater share of its real liability, the next US president can contribute to more careful decision-making in the organization and, more importantly, improve the welfare of ordinary people who live under UN authority.
Click HERE for the original article.
Reprezantan 50 Federasyon ak òganizasyon ayisyen pibliye yon deklarasyon kont don pistach Depatman agrikilti peyi Etazini (USDA) vle voye ane sa-a. USDA gen lentansyon voye 500 tòn metrik pistach ayiti, swadizan pou ede timoun ki grangou. Men ayiti deja pwodwi pistach, donk chajman sa kapab gen yon trè move efè sou ekonomi ayiti. Gwoup sa yo sonje jan masak kochon kreyòl yo ak chajman diri etazini te detwi ekonomi ayiti nan ane 1980 yo epi yo pa vle menm bagay la rive ak pistach yo tou.
20 jiyè 2016
Nou menm reprezantan 50 Federasyon ak òganizasyon, ki sòti nan 10 depatman yo e ki te reyini nan Montrouis sòti 10 pou rive 21 jiyè nan okazyon reyalizasyon Inivèsite Popilè a pou ane 2016 la, nou aprann ak anpil sezisman ak endiyasyon Depatman agrikilti peyi Etazini (USDA) gen lentansyon voye nan peyi a 2 chajman pistach – premye chajman 500 tòn metrik prevwa pou li rive pandan mwa out 2016 la. Pistach sa yo gen pou distribiye nan lekòl pou soulaje malnitrisyon 140.000 timoun, dapre deklarasyon Gouvènman meriken.
Nap pwoteste kont desizyon sa a e nap mande Ministè agrikilti (MARNDR) pou li kanpe sou enpòtasyon pistach la pou rezon sa yo:
1.- Pistach sa yo yap voye ban nou se paske gen twòp kantite pistach yo pwodwi nan peyi Etazini e gen pwoblèm twòp pistach ak pwoblèm estokaj. Peyi Dayiti pa dwe tounen poubèl !!
2.- Ayiti pwodwi plizyè dizèn milye tòn metrik pistach chak ane. Menmsi pwodiksyon an bese anpil depi 2014 aktivite sa a rete enpòtan, kote souvan se pistach ak pwa kongo ki se 2 pwodiksyon ki pèmèt fanmi peyizan yo reziste anba frap sechrès la, nan plizyè rejyon nan peyi a.
United Nations peacekeepers brought cholera to Haiti in 2010 and have used “absolute immunity as a bureaucratic tactic to avoid responsibility” since then, despite over 9000 deaths from and over 770,000 cases of cholera in Haiti. This article discusses how the UN’s self-protective ducking behind immunity is actually self-destructive for an organization purported to stand for human rights.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.No Immunity from Cholera: the UN’s Role in the 2010 Haitian Outbreak
Madlen Nash, McGill Blog
July 22, 2016
The United Nations cannot claim to address and prevent human rights violations while simultaneously failing to acknowledge the culture of impunity and alarming lack of accountability within the organization. Immunity should exist solely to ensure the security of UN peacekeepers during their missions. Instead, the UN uses absolute immunity as a bureaucratic tactic to avoid responsibility when their soldiers violate the human rights of the citizens they are mandated to protect. The UN continues to hide behind its shield of impunity despite its recent unequivocal violation of human rights in the case of the cholera outbreak in Haiti.
In October 2010, an outbreak of cholera appeared in Haiti for the first time in nearly a century(1). As of February 2016, there have been 770,000 reported cholera cases and 9,200 deaths (2). The first reported cases coincided directly with the arrival of peacekeepers from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The troops were deployed from an area of Nepal, a cholera endemic country, which had just experienced a major outbreak in the month prior to their departure (3). Evidence overwhelmingly confirmed that the source of the Haitian cholera outbreak was due to “contamination of the Méyè Tributary of the Artibonite River with a pathogenic strain of South Asian type Vibrio cholerae as a result of human activity” (4). The evidence not only confirms that the UN was responsible for bringing cholera into Haiti, but that it did so recklessly, allowing human waste from the peacekeeping base to be discharged into the tributary leading to Haiti’s principle water source (5). Despite the knowledge of the recent cholera outbreak in Nepal, the organization only tested symptomatic soldiers for cholera, even though 75% of cholera cases present as asymptomatic (6).
Click HERE for the full text.
Director of Communications
The Director of Communications (DC) will be a mission-focused, seasoned, and creative communicator. S/he will have experience building the brand and telling the story for a dynamic, expanding and inspiring enterprise. The DC will report to the Director of Operations but will be expected to take direction from the Chief Executive Officer and provide substantial support to the Seed development team. This is an outstanding opportunity for a highly motivated professional to take on a pivotal role in the evolution of a fast-growing, well respected organization. Responsibilities will include but are not limited to:
Strategic and Continuous Communication Leadership and Execution:
• Work across the staff, and in particular with the CEO and development team, to formulate and implement a high-impact communication strategy
• Establish goals and objectives related to Seed communication investments and monitor and report progress against those metrics
• Manage communications aspects of high-value and complex external partnerships (e.g., with communications counterparts at Peace Corps and among key private donors and academic partners)
• Establish and nurture relationships with multiple news, social media, and other outlets to promote the Seed story and generate positive coverage
• Lead a small but dedicated communications team including interns and para-professionals
• Support the CEO in her role as chief spokesperson for Seed and “build the bench” of surrogates who can support and complement the chief spokesperson role
Click HERE for the full position description.
——————————————————Director of Operations
The Director of Operations (DO) will be a mission-focused, seasoned, and process-minded leader with experience scaling an organization, and developing a performance culture among a group of diverse, talented individuals. The DO will report to the CEO. The DO must be a leader who is able to help others at Seed deliver
measurable, cost-effective results that make the vision a reality. This is an outstanding opportunity for a highly
motivated professional to take on a pivotal role in the evolution of a fast-growing, well respected organization.
A smaller organization currently, Seed is poised to grow significantly over the next few years requiring the DO to
assume greater responsibilities and to oversee increasingly complex programming and strategy.
Responsibilities will include but are not limited to:
• Contribute to the development of Seed Global Health’s strategic goals and objectives as well as
• Ensure that Seed Global Health is adhering to the strategic plan, delivering status reports to the
• In close collaboration with the CEO and Chief Strategic and Clinical Officer, help oversee and
• Help establish international operations in partner countries including registration, legal counsel,
• Manage operations in partner countries ensuring accountability and performance of staff there;
• Administer contracts with including, but not limited to, consultants, Seed Plus volunteers, and
• Oversee facility and office management logistics and decisions including administering and
• Supervise insurance protocols including, but not limited to: general liability, fiduciary, foreign
• Upgrade and implement an appropriate system of policies, internal controls, accounting
• Coordinate the quarterly reports to the Peace Corps;
• Oversee the organizations’ reporting to operational partners and contracts, ensuring the reports
• Represent the organization externally, as necessary, particularly in legal negotiations, contracts, promotional activities and fundraising efforts
Click HERE for the full position description.
July 20, 2016
Dans le cadre du Programme d’Engagement Civique (PEC), en cours de réalisation au niveau de ces quatre communes : Saut d’Eau, Lachapelle, Boucan carré et Mirebalais, pour renforcer la capacité des animateurs à aider les accompagnateurs à orienter les membres de leur communauté ( participants) en termes de plaidoyer afin d’interpeler les autorités locales gouvernementales autour de leurs droits économiques, sociaux et culturels, particulièrement leurs droits à l’éducation et à la santé, le Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) a entrepris une journée de formation ce mercredi 13 juillet 2016 dans la commune de Saut d’Eau.
Seize animateurs, accompagnés d’avocats de ces communes, d’avocats stagiaires et d’étudiants finissants du BAI avaient pris part à cette séance de formation autour de ces thèmes : politique et les trois pouvoirs de l’Etat, techniques d’animation, de supervision et de plaidoyer. Elle a été animée, principalement par Me Mario JOSEPH, Responsable du BAI. Les animateurs, visiblement très satisfaits, ont salué cette série de formations et exprimé leur détermination de continuer à conscientiser les membres de leur communauté sur les obligations de l’Etat, au regard de leurs droits économiques, sociaux et culturels, tout en exerçant un leadership pouvant les persuader à s’engager en tant qu’acteurs de changement de leur communauté autour de ses enjeux sociaux et politiques.
A ce propos, Me Mario JOSEPH a tenu à souligner et nous citons : « vous autres, animateurs, vous devez être des avant-gardistes des intérêts de votre communauté ; voilà pourquoi vous avez la responsabilité de doter à vos concitoyens des outils nécessaires leur permettant de faire des choix politiques éclairés en vue de l’avancement de la communauté ».
La méthode participative a été amplement utilisée lors de cette formation. Et cela a semblé très bénéfique pour le programme. A ce propos, un animateur a déclaré : « Cette méthode nous a permis de prendre conscience des différents défis à relever et surtout, la nécessité de les affronter ensemble ».
A titre de rappel, le PEC est un programme pilote que BAI exécute dans les quatre communes mentionnées ci-dessus, visant à développer une prise de conscience chez les membres de ces communautés sur les obligations de l’Etat vis-à-vis de leurs droits économiques, sociaux et culturels. Les animateurs sont des leaders communautaires qui accompagnent sur le terrain des accompagnateurs dont leur tâche consiste à orienter les membres de la population (participants) en matière des droits à l’éducation et à la santé.
Despite a Constitutionally-mandated quota of 30% female participation, 91.27% of candidates for Haiti’s Senate are male: Out of 149 candidates for Haiti’s various departments, only 13 are women. This article breaks those numbers down by department and also provides a list of the woman candidates.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Haiti – FLASH : 149 candidates for 10 seats in the Senate (list)
July 19, 2016
149 candidates (13 women and 136 men) will compete on 9 October for the first round of elections of the renewal of third of the Senate.
The dominance of the number of men candidates (91.27%) over the women candidates is overwhelming, far from the respect of minimum 30% quota for women stipulated in the amended Constitution.
Click HERE for the full text.
Now that the United States has decided to withdraw funding from the redo of Haiti’s presidential elections, Haitians are starting to unite to find a way to fund the elections themselves. Unfortunately, the U.S. withdrawal, as well as the country’s continual denouncing of Haiti’s attempt at a more democratic process, may be detrimental to the credibility of the elections. While many take Haiti funding its own elections as a step towards sovereignty and improving the process, the electoral process is still being blocked by a portion of Parliament and there are also many concerns about what the U.S. will do once the elections have taken place.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Will a Haiti election without U.S. dollars undermine the vote?
Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
July 18, 2016
For months, the United States has stressed the importance of Haiti scheduling elections, holding them and quickly inaugurating a democratically-elected government.
But as Haiti now prepares to complete the election cycle that began last year, the Obama administration has said it won’t finance the effort a second time. It won’t underwrite the Oct. 9 vote. It’s demanding the return of unspent elections dollars it granted. And it’s asking two U.S.-based elections organizations to stop supporting the process.
In Haiti, the combination of those moves is adding up widespread concern over one question: Is the U.S. undermining the election?
“We find it bizarre that they don’t want to support the democratic process,” said Léopold Berlanger, president of Haiti’s nine-member Provisional Electoral Council charged with organizing the vote for president, members of parliament and thousands of local seats. “I don’t see how their behavior is rational.”
Click HERE for the full text.
Following the brutal killings, Haitian civil society has come together to demand action. Activists have called for the inclusion of women with disabilities into the national gender equality plan in an attempt to remedy the causes of this event. IJDH Staff Attorney Nicole Phillips is also cited in this article.
Click HERE for the original article.Murder of three deaf women in Haiti must be a starting point for change
Anna Leach, The Guardian
July, 18 2016
On Saturday 11 June government ministers and campaigners attended the funeral of three female street vendors, laid to rest in sturdy white coffins laden with flowers, with more than 2,000 people in attendance. Their brutal murders had shocked a country.
Jesula Gelin, a mother of six, Vanessa Previl and Monique Vincent were all deaf and worked in Haiti’s capital. That is itself was notable – they were economically independent and lived away from their families in a deaf community in Leveque, a village about an hour from the city.
On 18 March they had spent the morning in Port-au-Prince buying business supplies and visiting their families. They set off home in the early afternoon, leaving plenty of time to get back before dark on a normal day. However, a bridge had collapsed on Route Nine, one of the main thoroughfares, bringing traffic to a standstill. “It was on the radio, TV, so everybody knew to avoid those areas,” says Nicole Phillips, a lawyer who is representing the women’s families. “But if you’re deaf, you’re not going to benefit from any of that. They had no idea that the bridge had collapsed.”
The women had been travelling on a tap tap – the privately run Jeeps that are the equivalent of buses in Haiti. But at some point, in the heavily congested traffic, they got off the tap tap to continue their journey on foot. “They got exhausted,” says Phillips. “And then late at night, we don’t know what time, they stopped off in one of the victim’s relative’s house.
The house was owned by a distant relative. “She had been there before, by car it’s just 20 minutes from where she lives,” says Phillips. “She and the two other ladies went there to spend the night.”
Reports of what happened next are from two women who have been arrested in connection with the triple murder. They lived at the house and say that when the three deaf women arrived they were frightened and thought that they were lougawou. In Haitian mythology, lougawou or lougarouare evil spirits who come out at night and cause mischief such as killing your goats or eating your dog. They are something to be feared. Disabled people are sometimes labelled bad spirits. “They think that they are a different creature of god,” says Phillips. “That helps them justify the stigma of disabled people. You can tell yourself this [that they are different] and feel more justified morally.”
The sequence of events is not entirely clear, but at some point between 8pm and midnight the women were tortured and brutally murdered. Phillips has seen photographs of the bodies with burn marks and machete cuts. The two women who were in the house and a male accomplice have been arrested in connection with the murder. But the police have not captured another main suspect, a distant relative of one of the victims.
“Violence against women with disabilities is believed to be two or three times higher than against non-disabled women,” says Lisa Adams, programme director of the US-based Disability Rights Fund, which works in Haiti. “Disability, gender and sexuality compound to present a lot of cultural myths and stereotypes about women with disabilities – ranging from infantilising them to making them hyper sexual. I think that has a lot to do with the violence experienced by women with disabilities in Haiti – these three women in particular.”
The murders have brought a furious response from disability rights, women’s rights and human rights campaigners. “This has brought Haiti’s disability rights activists together,” says Phillips. “It has galvanised the community.” On 1 April hundreds of people marched in Port-au-Prince to demand justice for the three murdered women, and several other demonstrations around the country followed, including a march on 9 June in Cabaret near where they were killed.
Disabled people in Haiti are discriminated against in multiple ways. For example, only 5% of children with disabilities are in school, according to a report by the Haitian state submitted in the report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. And people with disabilities complain that the police don’t take them seriously when they report crimes and that they are taunted in public as “cocobe” (useless).
“Haiti is a model for exclusion,” says Michel Pean, who was secretary of state for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in Haiti from 2007-11 and is blind himself. “But it’s also a good example of the fight for inclusion of people with disabilities within society.” Pean says that 1 million out of Haiti’s 10 million people have a disability. Since the earthquake in 2010, there are more people with disabilities and they have become more visible.
And those activists are determined to seize this moment of tragedy and force the government to act. “We want to transform this very negative event into something positive,” says Pean. “Something which would ensure that people with disabilities are respected, and their rights are respected. Their right to education, their right to access to health, in other words, their right to live, with dignity.”
In response to the murders, campaigners are calling for the government to include the rights of women with disabilities into a national gender equality plan. The government has not replied to that petition yet, but it did fund the women’s funeral and ministers insist they are doing all they can to ensure that justice is done.
“For me, as a feminist activist,” says Nadine Anilus, a member of the Ministry of Women’s cabinet, “we condemn this criminal act and call the state authorities to take the necessary steps to make justice and reparation to the family of three women. Every Haitian citizen must play their part to improve the situation of people with disabilities. We are calling for a big national campaign.”She adds that Haiti needs to ensure national accidents are communicated in a way that is accessible for people with disabilities and that more financial resources are needed for organisations working on these issues.
Pean is clear that it will take a long time before people with disabilities are treated equally in the country. “For things to actually change, mentalities as well, takes a long process,” he says. “One of the things that has to change is the economic situation in Haiti. Also, it’s essential that we have political stability. These are necessary conditions to enable us to reach true inclusion.”
Click HERE for the original article.
In the first-ever televised debate between candidates for the next United Nations Secretary General, a moderator asked about the UN-caused cholera epidemic in Haiti. While justice for the cholera victims may seem like a no-brainer, it has been notoriously tough for the UN, which has dodged accountability for almost six years. In the debate, one candidate stood out by taking a stand for accountability, joining a few other candidates who have also publicly supported justice for Haiti’s cholera victims. This article shows that justice is becoming more and more unavoidable for the UN, and that the next Secretary General may be the one to finally address the ongoing epidemic.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text and video.
Click HERE for more on the fight for cholera justice.A lone hand raised on the question of U.N. responsibility for cholera in Haiti
Tom Murphy, Humanosphere
July 14, 2016
When it comes to the possibility that the United Nations might claim responsibility for causing the outbreak of cholera in Haiti, Costa Rican diplomat Christina Figueres stands alone. In the first-ever televised debate of the secretary-general candidates, the moderator asked whether they would apologize for the import of cholera to Haiti by Nepalese peacekeepers in fall 2009. Flanked by some of the early favorites to take the job, only Figueres raised her hand.
“I believe that was an unintended consequence of a very important goal of the United Nations,” Figueres said when she was asked to explain why she raised her hand. “But we have to be responsible even for unintended consequences. If I go to the 38th floor I will make sure that during my tenure that we completely eradicate malaria and cholera in Haiti … that is a moral responsibility the United Nations has, and it must be fulfilled.”
Click HERE for the full text and video.
With the United States’ decision to withdraw funding for Haiti’s elections, Haiti has to find a way to fill the gap in funds for the electoral process. Twelve Haitian Senators have decided to give two months of their salaries to the elections pot. While this article questions the Senators’ motives, this could be a step towards Haiti financing its own elections.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Haiti – Elections : 12 senators give their wages
July 14, 2016
The majority group to the Senate composed of 12 senators : Nenel Cassy, Evallière Beauplan, Ricard Pierre, Francisco Delacruz, François Luca Sainvil, Stevens Iverson Benoît, Francenet Denius, Jean Baptiste Bien Aimé, Westner Polycarpe, Fritz Carlos Lebon, Ronald Larèche and Antonio Cheramy, indicates in a correspondence that following the precariousness of State revenues to help achieve the next elections, they decided to give 2 months of their salary.
Extract of the correspondence :
“[…] In order to remedy this situation, we have decided the following:
1. The donation of our salaries for the month of August and September 2016 except of operating fees as our participation in the realization of the next elections to elect a legitimate president on 7 February 2017 to fill vacancies to the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies;
Click HERE for the full text.
The AP investigates children left behind by United Nations peacekeeping troops in Haiti, focusing on the single case of Rosa Mina Joseph, a very young Haitian mother. The father of her child, Julio Cesar Posse, left the country when his rotation ended, leaving Joseph with no contact information and no monetary support. The U.N. has acknowledged the issues of peacekeeper sexual abuse and paternity cases, yet little has been done to support the victims and their children.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Support Sought for Kids Left Behind by UN Troops in Haiti
The Associated Press, The New York Times
July 14, 2016
PORT SALUT, Haiti — The first time Rosa Mina Joseph met Julio Cesar Posse he was hanging out in civilian clothes on the beach in her hometown in southern Haiti, where he was stationed as a member of a U.N. peacekeeping force.
Within weeks, she says, the Uruguayan marine was showing up every weekend at her family’s shack, pledging his love in Spanish and broken Haitian Creole.
But about a year later when his rotation ended, Posse quietly returned home. He left behind Joseph, a broken-hearted 17-year-old with an infant and no way to support the child without depending on struggling relatives.
Click HERE for the full text.
The apathy paid to responsibility by the UN concerning cholera in Haiti represents a breakdown in the international order. This denial is an example of a superiority above accountability that threatens the delicate agreement of treaties and understandings when it comes to supranational aid.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.No Immunity from Cholera
Debra L. Raskin & Anil Kalhan, Foreign Affairs
July 13, 2016
Pressure is mounting on the United States to push the United Nations to respond more effectively to the cholera epidemic that broke out in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. The epidemic has reportedly killed at least 9,200 and, by some estimates, perhaps as many as three times that number. Hundreds of thousands more have been infected. And the devastation isn’t over; Haiti continues to struggle to contain a disease that it had not previously faced for over a century.
Evidence points to United Nations peacekeepers as the most likely source of the disease in Haiti. An expert panel commissioned by the United Nations itself pointed the finger at the “haphazard” disposal of human waste at a UN base close to the epicenter of the outbreak, near a tributary to Haiti’s largest river—the primary water source for tens of thousands of people. Most recently, news outlets reported that an internal UN memo stated that improper disposal of human waste was a widespread problem at other UN bases across Haiti as well.
Click HERE for the original article.
Below is an excerpt from the most recent UN Secretary General candidates’ debate, in which the candidates are asked how they would respond to the cholera epidemic in Haiti as Secretary General. While some of the candidates appeared conflicted, two stood out–one for and one against justice for the cholera victims.
Click HERE for the recording. (In the first video, starts around 48:10.)The UN Debate
July 12, 2016
James Bays: I’d like to ask you now a specific question about a country that is one of the poorest of the world, and certainly one of the poorest in the Americas. It’s a question about Haiti because the UN’s involvement in Haiti is one that some have found very controversial. Clearly, there has been this outbreak of cholera, now the official figures say 9200 people have died from cholera and many think it’s much more than that. Many scientists believe that the UN peacekeepers brought to Haiti. So maybe we can have a show of hands: as Secretary-General, would any of you would admit responsibility and apologize to the people of Haiti?[Christiana Figueres boldly raises her hand, Danilo Turk throws his hand up and down suggesting a caveated answer, Igor Luksic briefly raises hand then puts it back down, Irina Bokova and Helen Clark keep their hands down.Huge applause and cheers from the audience (which mind you is a lot of member states!!) when Figueres raises her hand. ]Bays: Explain why please and then we’ll speak to the others.Figueres: Yes, because I believe that the UN’s reputation also on that has actually been tarnished. That was an unintended consequence of a very important goal of the United Nations. Unintended consequence. But we have to be responsible even for unintended consequences. If I go to the 38th floor,I will make sure that during my tenure we completely completely eradicate malaria and cholera from Haiti. The advantage of that is that we will actually increase the sanitation level and the health levels over all. But that is a responsibility – a moral responsibility — that the UN has, and that must be fulfilled. [audience applauds]Bays: If I may ask a follow-up. Wiill you pay the compensation, Yes or no?Figures: No, the United Nations is not in a position to pay compensation. But more importantly, the UN is called upon to, as I said, to ensure that the disease is eradicated in Haiti, and that it never happens again in any other country.Bays: Now let’s hear from someone who didn’t raise their hand. Helen Clark?[audience chuckles]Clark: What I learned as prime minister, is that no matter how tempting it might be to comment on a case before the courts, it’s not wise to do so. We have a case on this before the courts in this country. What I know is that people have died, as you said, children are orphaned, people have lost loved ones, because of this. Has the international response to that situation been sufficient? No. Cholera is still in Haiti. So the critical thing now is to really support for Haiti to have better water and sanitation for its people, better living standards, and for the families who have been so damaged by what happened to be able to rebuild their lives. If there are issues of sanitation in UN camps, which there may well be, let us attend to that, because UN peacekeepers shouln’t be living in squalor either. If that is going to cause a problem, as it will, not only to them but to a surrounding neighborhood. So we have a lot of work to do to put things right for the people in Haiti.….Click HERE for the recording. (Starts around minute 20.)
In this editorial piece, the Boston Globe explores the issue of cholera in Haiti and explicitly pressures the United Nations to compensate victims. Referencing the bipartisan support voiced in a recent Congressional letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, the article poses the United Nations as clearly at fault for the epidemic. Although it states the expansive nature of a water and sanitation project, it sheds light on the minimal efforts exerted by the UN to help end the epidemic.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.State Dept. should demand UN take responsibility in Haiti
The Boston Globe
July 12, 2016
WHEN A BIPARTISAN group in Congress can agree on something, it’s worth noting. Especially when these lawmakers are pushing for action to save innocent lives and help the victims of a raging public health disaster.
The disaster, in this case, is the unchecked cholera epidemic in Haiti — which took hold after an earthquake in 2010. Despite overwhelming medical evidence that the disease was brought to the island nation by United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal, the UN has largely hidden behind the principle of diplomatic immunity, conveyed by charter in order to protect the body from lawsuits by individual nations. Reaction from the US State Department has also been subdued. But diplomatic niceties are no substitute for moral imperative.
Last month, 158 members of the US House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State John F. Kerry urging the State Department to “exercise its leadership to ensure that the United Nations . . . take concrete steps to eliminate the cholera epidemic introduced to Haiti in 2010 by waste from a UN peacekeeper camp, and to comply with its legal and moral obligations to provide cholera victims with access to an effective remedy.”
Click HERE for the full text.
MEDIA ADVISORY FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEDoctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)Contact: Jessica Brown +1-212-763-5740MSF MEDIA ADVISORY: HAITI: PHOTOGRAPHER BENEDICTE KURZEN SHEDS LIGHT ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE Sexual violence in Haiti is a medical emergency, and affects a disproportionate number of children. July 11-15, NOOR photographer Benedicte Kurzen will be sharing the reality of the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) sexual violence clinic in Port-au-Prince directly over MSF’s Instagram.Since opening a year ago, the number of survivors coming to the Pran Men m (Creole for “Take My Hand”) clinic in Port-au-Prince has risen to one hundred per month. More than half of the patients are under 18 years of age. MSF provides medical and psychological care, and other support where necessary.The MSF clinic is part of a broader network of Haitian organizations supporting survivors of sexual violence. Benedicte’s work will further seek to showcase these domestic responses to this largely invisible crisis.###
In a press briefing dedicated to the U.S. suspension of electoral assistance to Haiti, State Department Spokesman John Kirby denied the motivation of the move as having any basis in leverage. Recalling the highly contested EU and OAS reports on the 2015 elections, Kirby reiterated that the elections had been found to be acceptable in the eyes of some international observers. He refused to divulge the details of the Haitian-American diplomatic conversations while in an exchange with two journalists.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.U.S. denies Haiti election aid suspension is about leverage
Samuel Maxime, Haiti Sentinel
July 10, 2016
The Obama administration on Thursday denied its suspension of electoral assistance to Haiti was for the sake of leverage after the island nation resolved to scrap a massively fraudulent election from 2015. State Department Spokesman John Kirby fielded and stumbled over questions from journalists during the July 7, 2016 press briefing on the matter.
The State Department was clear in its opposition to a suspension of the electoral cycle on January 22, an investigation and subsequent findings of massive fraud, May 1 to May 31, and the decision of a new Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to at least redo the presidential contest. “We’ve made no bones about the fact that we had concerns about the way the process was unfolding. And as I said, we had no plans – did not plan for funding for two more electoral rounds,” said Mr. Kirby undenying of the Obama administration displeasure. But when asked whether the suspension of electoral assistance was linked to Haiti’s decision to scrap the first contests, he began to stumble
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The United States has decided to pull $2 million in funding from Haiti’s elections as a statement of disapproval for re-running the presidential elections in October. After finding that the first round of presidential elections were marred by massive fraud, a commission decided to throw the old results out and hold an entirely new presidential election. European Union observers withdrew to express their disapproval and U.S. State Department officials have said they do not understand the decision to start over. While some feel that the U.S. withdrawal from the elections will be a positive step for Haiti’s sovereignty, some worry that lack of U.S. approval will de-legitimize the elections and provide detractors in Parliament a reason to continue blocking the process.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.US Withdraws Funding for Haiti Elections
Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch, Center for Economic and Policy Research
July 8, 2016Dismayed by the decision to rerun controversial and fraud-plagued presidential elections, the US State Department announcedon Thursday a suspension of electoral assistance to Haiti. State Department spokesperson John Kirby said the decision was communicated to Haitian authorities last week, noting that the US “has provided over $30 million in assistance” for elections and that the move would allow the US “to maintain priority assistance” for ongoing projects.
Kirby added that “I don’t have a dollar figure in terms of this because it wasn’t funded, it wasn’t budgeted.” However multiple sources have confirmed that the U.S has withdrawn nearly $2 million already in a United Nations controlled fund for elections. Donor governments, as well as the Haitian state, had contributed to the fund. Prior to the US move, $8.2 million remained for elections.
The pulling of funds indicates the growing displeasure with Haitian authorities’ decision to rerun last year’s presidential elections.
Click HERE for the full text.