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UN Must Pay Its Debt to Haiti’s Cholera Victims

August 26, 2016 - 10:30

This Letter to the Editor says that the United Nations must now apologize to Haiti’s cholera victims, provide them with compensation, and invest in cholera eradication. Experts should be involved to make sure that the victims’ needs are finally met.

UN-believable irresponsibility

Nancy Morisseau, NY Daily News

August 26, 2016

Brooklyn: Your editorial “The UN in a time of cholera” (Aug. 23) noted the internal report concluding the United Nations “created the epidemic and went out of its way to dodge responsibility” — and the “enormous debt” the UN owes to Haiti’s at least 10,000 dead and 800,000 infected cholera victims. The UN must now publicly apologize, put victims front and center, fully compensate them, and invest the money needed to eradicate the disease it ignored for six years. Time is of the essence as the epidemic continues to kill thousands. And independent, Haiti-experienced health experts as well as victims’ representatives must have seats at the table to make sure Haitian lives, so callously ignored by the UN for six long years, now come first.  Nancy Morisseau, Board of Directors, Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York (2013-15)

 

Click HERE for the full list of letters to the editor.

UN Takes Important Step Towards Cholera Justice

August 26, 2016 - 07:52

This article on the UN’s admission of involvement in Haiti’s cholera epidemic highlights IJDH Executive Director Brian Concannon and how our work helped make this happen. For almost six years, the United Nations dodged accountability and denied any responsibility for the epidemic that it caused. Now that an Appeals Court has upheld UN immunity, will the UN take the chance to take real action against cholera? What happens next will determine whether or not IJDH has to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Boston activists win important round in battle with United Nations

Adrian Walker, Boston Globe

August 26, 2016

For years Brian Concannon has battled the United Nations from his office in Andrew Square, yet the significant victory he recently won caught him by surprise.

The UN has finally owned up to its role in introducing cholera to Haiti — a public health disaster that has claimed at least 10,000 lives and possibly several times that. That acknowledgement is something human rights lawyers, activists, and Haitian citizens have been seeking for years.

In a statement to the New York Times last week, a spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon wrote that, “Over the past year, the UN has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera.” The statement added that the UN would announce a plan to address the epidemic within two months.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

How can Haiti regain its independence?

August 24, 2016 - 13:05

Though Haiti gained its independence in 1804, one can argue that Haiti began to lose that independence less than two decades later when it was forced to start paying France back for lost slaves and property. Almost immediately after Haiti finished paying that “debt” in 80 years, the U.S. military occupied the country for 19 years. Haitian leaders also took advantage of the insecurity, sometimes with the help of foreign countries. This author argues that the only way Haiti can regain its independence is to rid itself of the constant foreign help and take matters into its own hands.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Only Haitians can save Haiti

Joel Dreyfuss, The Washington Post

August 24, 2016

Joel Dreyfuss is a Washington Post Global Opinions contributing columnist.

Haiti won a rare victory on the international stage last week. After five years of evading accountability, the United Nations finally admitted that its peacekeepers were responsible for a deadly cholera epidemic that killed 10,000 men, women and children and sickened 700,000. Long after scientists traced the disease to the poor sanitation practices of Nepalese troops stationed in Haiti, the U.N. rejected the findings, claimed diplomatic immunity and enlisted Obama administration support to block efforts by Haitians to hold the agency accountable in U.S. courts. The U.N. backed down after a report by New York University law professor Philip Alston, an adviser on legal and human rights, became public. Alston called the U.N.’s stonewalling “morally unconscionable, legally indefensible and politically self-defeating.”

The U.N.’s arrogant stance was just the latest example of how Haiti’s friends are so often its worst enemies. The U.N. military mission has been in Haiti since 2004, presumably to “stabilize” the country and nurture its fragile democracy. Yet that democracy is barely breathing, with a “provisional” president and a group of dubiously elected officials who can barely agree on a date for presidential elections.

Consider the aftermath of the massive earthquake that killed 200,000 to 300,000 Haitians on Jan. 12, 2010. The international community did responded generously. Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush presided over a reconstruction commission that won $14 billion in international pledges and posed to help transform Haiti into a modern nation. However, what money was actually delivered was sucked into a morass of Beltway consultants, failed projects and nongovernmental organizations. “Valuable studies and assessments conducted by Haitians themselves were largely ignored,” the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reported in a postmortem study. Six years later, the rubble in downtown Port-au-Prince has been cleared, but little has been rebuilt. The nation’s center of commercial activity has moved to suburban Pétionville. Plans to revive the capital remain as vague as the early-morning fog that drifts across the majestic mountains that serve as a backdrop to Haiti’s tortured history.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti Takes Steps to Begin Electoral Process

August 23, 2016 - 14:51

Ever since the United States announced that it would not fund Haiti’s elections because it disagreed with Haiti redoing them entirely, some worried that Haiti would not be able to pull off elections without those funds. Now, Haiti’s Electoral Council is taking some concrete steps towards beginning the process in earnest. A budget for the elections has been released and a timeline of 45 days for the candidates to campaign has been announced. Many within and outside Haiti are looking to see if Haiti can succeed in running more honest elections on its own.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti kicks off presidential campaigning with a timid start

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

August 23, 2016

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Campaigning for Haiti’s Oct. 9 presidential do-over elections got off to a timid start Tuesday with the country’s elections chief asking candidates and political parties to campaign fairly and prevent elections-related violence.

Léopold Berlanger also reiterated that there will be stricter controls on the balloting, which includes voting for one portion of the 30-member Senate and runoffs for several legislative seats.

“There will be no voting wherever you like,” Berlanger said, referring to poll watchers, also known as mandataires, who were allowed to vote at any polling stations in last year’s disputed vote, triggering allegations of fraud and plunging the country into a political crisis. “No one will have the right to do this.”

Berlanger also said that the voter list — now at 6.1 million voters — is ready, and that the number of polling stations has been reduced to provide voters with more space and privacy to cast ballots.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Will UN restore its tarnished reputation through cholera accountability?

August 23, 2016 - 13:10

Ever since United Nations peacekeepers caused a devastating cholera epidemic in Haiti in 2010, the organization has behaved as if accountability for its actions would be a liability. In the meantime, considerable damage was done to the UN’s reputation, as an organization purported to stand for human rights completely disregarded the human rights of Haitians affected by the epidemic. The lack of funding for the UN’s cholera elimination plan did not help the situation either. Now that the UN has finally admitted responsibility for the epidemic, will accountability come next?
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

It’s Time for the UN to Compensate Haitians for Its Cholera DisasterAccountability should be seen as a strength, not a liability, at an organization committed to human rights.

Muneer Ahmad and Alice M. Miller, The Nation

August 23, 2016

For the first time in five years, the United Nations has admitted what epidemiologists, human-rights researchers, and the UN’s own experts established long ago: that its peacekeepers were responsible for the inadvertent introduction of cholera into Haiti in 2010, causing the deaths of over 10,000 people and sickening hundreds of thousands more.

After years of denials and dissembling, and choosing to hide behind the cloak of immunity rather than face the legitimate demands of a grieving Haitian people, the UN now says it is willing to take steps to redress the problem. The challenge now is to develop, fund, and administer a meaningful compensation scheme that values Haitian lives, respects the principles of institutional accountability and the right to a remedy, and repairs the self-inflicted damage done to the integrity of the United Nations as a defender of human rights. Such a response holds the potential not only to deliver a measure of justice to the Haitian people, but to establish an important precedent of accountability for the United Nations and other international governmental organizations.

Cholera erupted in Haiti in October of 2010, less than a month after the arrival of UN peacekeepers from Nepal, which had just endured a major outbreak of the disease. The peacekeepers arrived at a UN outpost near Méyè, 40 kilometers northeast of Port-au-Prince, and were stationed at a base just a few meters away from a tributary to the Artibonite River, Haiti’s largest river and one of its main sources of water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

As United Nations investigators would later establish, sanitation facilities at the base were haphazardly constructed, and as a result, human waste emptied into the tributary. Within days of the arrival of the peacekeepers, Haitian health officials confirmed numerous cases of cholera in the area surrounding the base, the first cases of cholera in the country in over a century. The disease spread rapidly throughout the country, with devastating effect.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

As Damning Reports Pile Up, UN Admits Cholera Responsibility

August 23, 2016 - 08:00

Yet another report has surfaced showing that the United Nations did its best to dodge responsibility for bringing a cholera epidemic to Haiti, a country that was incredibly ill-equipped to handle it. Now, after over 10,000 deaths and almost six years later, the UN has finally admitted involvement in the cholera epidemic. After an Appeals Court ruled that the UN is immune from a cholera lawsuit though, much still remains to be done in seeking justice for the victims.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

The UN in a time of cholera: Admitting incompetence in creating an epidemic

Editorial, NY Daily News

August 23, 2016

After years of amoral denials, the United Nations has finally admitted its responsibility for a cholera outbreak in Haiti that has infected more than 800,000 and killed at least 10,000.

In 2010, the UN brought in 4,544 peacekeepers fresh from a tour of duty in Nepal — where cholera was rampant. Soon, an island nation without cholera for more than a century had an epidemic on its hands.

Regardless, over the next five years, the United Nations swatted away scientific reports that clearly proved its troops had imported the deadly disease to a nation terribly equipped to combat it.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

UN’s Belated Owning Cholera Responsibility Demonstrates Accountability Crisis

August 22, 2016 - 14:58

Though it shouldn’t have taken the United Nations nearly six years to own up to its involvement in the cholera epidemic in Haiti, this editorial board isn’t surprised given the past lack of UN accountability. In both cases of sexual abuse and the cholera epidemic, the UN has focused more on covering the problem up than actually addressing it. Now that it has admitted responsibility for cholera, hopefully an apology and compensation will come next.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Dodging Accountability at the United Nations

Editorial, The New York Times

August 22, 2016

It shouldn’t have taken five years and a scathing report by an internal human rights watchdog for the United Nations to acknowledge that it bears responsibility for the cholera epidemic in Haiti sparked by its peacekeepers deployed after the 2010 earthquake.

And yet, the yearslong effort to dodge accountability in an emblematic case of institutional failure was predictable. A string of recent scandals has shown that the United Nations has been unwilling to police itself, learn from its errors, correct course and make amends. When a new secretary general takes over next year, she or he should make it a priority to revamp the organization’s oversight entities and create a culture of accountability.

For years, the United Nations asserted that there was no conclusive proof that peacekeepers were the source of an outbreak of cholera that has killed more than 10,000 people. News accounts and experts offered substantial evidence to the contrary. The organization’s denial is one of the main reasons the international community has not mustered an effective response to the epidemic, which spread to other countries. New cases of cholera, which is transmitted through water and food contaminated by sewage, have increased annually since 2014. The country’s wastewater and sanitation systems remain rudimentary.

Click HERE for the full text.

How did the cholera epidemic get so bad, and what’s next?

August 22, 2016 - 13:53

Journalist Kim Ives and IJDH’s own Sienna Merope-Synge discuss the United Nations’ role in the cholera epidemic in Haiti in a radio segment on black resistance. This includes discussion of a U.S. Appeals Court’s decision to uphold UN immunity in the lawsuit that seeks justice for the epidemic. The interview starts at about 17:10.

Black August Commemorates Four Centuries of African American Resistance

Brian Becker, Sputnik

August 22, 2016

http://www.ijdh.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/2016_08_20_LoudClear164Normalized_nz1ja230.3n2.mp3

 

Click HERE for the original posting.

Plan Proposed for Eradicating Cholera from Haiti

August 22, 2016 - 13:10

Ever since the United Nations began a cholera epidemic in Haiti in 2010, it has been covering that fact up. Now that the UN has finally admitted its involvement, there are steps it can take to stamp out the disease during Haiti’s dry season, before the wet season exacerbates the problem and cholera can claim more lives. These steps have been drafted by one of the epidemiologists who took the lead on uncovering the source of the epidemic. Will the UN heed the advice?

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

What the UN must do to wipe out cholera in Haiti

Ralph R. Frerichs, Boston Globe

August 22, 2016

IT IS NOT enough that the United Nations is finally beginning to acknowledge its involvement in the lethal cholera epidemic in Haiti. Now it must urgently do everything in its power to eliminate cholera in Haiti before thousands more die.

Cholera was brought to Haiti in October 2010 by UN peacekeepers from Nepal. Some of the Nepalese peacekeepers had been infected with the disease in their home country. And due to close quarters and poor sanitation practices, the disease quickly spread throughout the Nepalese camp near the interior town of Mirebalais.

Early on, some contaminated fecal waste from the Nepalese camp leaked into a nearby stream, infecting a few Haitians. Then the accumulated camp waste was dumped into the local river by a poorly supervised UN vendor. This local river flowed on to the mighty Artibonite River, which runs through the breadbasket of Haiti before emptying into the Caribbean Sea.

An explosive epidemic ensued in communities along the Artibonite, eventually killing 10,000 or more persons, with more still dying every month. The deaths in this one poor country are comparable in number to all the deaths attributed to the Ebola epidemic that erupted in several nations of West Africa in 2014.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

UN admission of cholera involvement should be a first step

August 21, 2016 - 10:31

Last week, the United Nations admitted that it was involved in Haiti’s deadly cholera epidemic, for the first time in nearly six years. Advocates praised the admission but also cautioned that it should be a first step towards justice for the cholera victims. Real action needs to be taken to make sure that the epidemic stops infecting and killing Haitians.

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A note of hope for Haitian cholera epidemic

Editorial, Boston Globe

August 21, 2016

FOR THE LAST six years, the United Nations has held fast to a deadly and amoral bit of fiction in Haiti. It is now generally settled truth that UN peacekeepers from Nepal introduced a ravaging cholera epidemic to the island in 2010. The genetic evidence, after all, seems incontrovertible: The Nepalese let their sewage flow into a Haitian stream, contaminating it with the vibrio cholerae microbe that causes severe diarrhea, dehydration, and agonizing death. Since then, this scourge has infected an estimated 800,000 people and killed as many as 10,000.

The United Nations has consistently denied responsibility, taking cover in the principle of diplomatic immunity. It has even gone to court in New York to fight claims of damage. But this fiction began to unwind last week, when the office of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon took the unprecedented step of acknowledging a UN role in the outbreak. A UN spokesman told The New York Times that a new response will be forthcoming — although Haiti will have to wait a month or two longer to see what shape that takes.

Ban’s statement could, and should, transform a shameful stalemate. It comes after he received a confidential report earlier this month by New York University law professor Philip Alston. Alston was correct when he reported, in the bluntest possible language, that the UN’s policy on cholera in Haiti “is morally unconscionable, legally indefensible, and politically self-defeating.” The world can hope that Alston, an expert adviser to the UN known as a special rapporteur, carries the status needed to push recalcitrant diplomats onto a higher moral plain.

A spokesperson said the US State Department “welcomes collaboration between the UN and Haiti, and discussion with UN member states, to devise appropriate additional actions in response to the crisis.” The United States has dedicated $95 million in aid to fund prevention programs and to address local outbreaks of the disease.

But the UN’s promises don’t amount to a cure. The real test is what happens next. The UN should follow quickly with a transparent and victim-centered process that ensures real action. Victims’ voices must be put at the center of the process. Haitians deserve a sweeping apology, compensation for families who have suffered, and robust investment in water and sanitation infrastructure to eliminate cholera.

“In Haiti we say viktwa se pou pep la — victory is for the people,” said Mario Joseph, managing attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, which has led a campaign for justice and reparations for victims of cholera since 2011. “This is a major victory for the thousands of Haitians who have been marching for justice, writing to the UN, and bringing the UN to court.”

The Charter of the United Nations was signed in late 1945, as shaken nations emerged from a global conflict. Human rights and cooperation are at its core. The UN has taken an important first step and should work with the people of Haiti to end the epidemic once and for all.

 

Click HERE for the original post.

Will the UN show humanity in dealing with Haitian cholera victims?

August 20, 2016 - 12:24

This blog post quoting Mario Joseph and IJDH attorney Nicole Phillips analyzes the United Nations’ admission of responsibility for Haiti’s cholera epidemic. It asks whether this admission will lead to further action or whether the UN will continue to act ‘without humanity’ towards the victims of the epidemic it brought to Haiti.

Part of the post is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Humanity vs Impunity. Will the UN now compensate Haiti’s cholera victims?

Rashmee Roshan Lall

August 20, 2016

 

I was in Haiti in February 2013, when the United Nations took the unusual decision to invoke legal immunity as a way of dealing with claims for compensation from 5,000 victims of the Haiti cholera epidemic.

Click here for the story I wrote for The Guardian at the time.

It was a straight up-and-down report on the worst outbreak of cholera in modern times and the outrage and anguish felt by Haitians about the way the UN was simply dismissing their search for justice.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Rep. Wilson Calls for Further UN Action Against Cholera

August 19, 2016 - 17:37

For Immediate Release                                  For More Information Contact:

August 19, 2016                                              Joyce Jones, Communications Director

202.225.4506 (office)

202.578.0634 (mobile)

Congresswoman Wilson Welcomes UN’s Admission of Role in Cholera Outbreak in Haiti and Calls for Further Actions 

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL) issued the following statement in response to a New York Times report announcing the United Nation’s (UN) admission of its role in the Haiti cholera outbreak that began in 2010:

“Today’s announcement is a major first step in righting a wrong.  While I welcome the UN’s assumption of responsibility for the cholera outbreak in Haiti, it must be followed with concrete actions that include making cholera victims and their families whole, and investments towards eradicating the epidemic.

The UN’s admission of its role in the deadly cholera outbreak in Haiti is a testament to the work of cholera victims, their families, and advocates.  For more than half a decade, they have organized, marched, written letters, and gone to court for today’s announcement to ensure that the UN fulfills its legal and moral obligations.

More than 10,000 people have died from cholera and many continue to suffer. I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress and advocates to ensure that the UN fulfills its obligations to cholera victims.”

Congresswoman Wilson, the representative of the U.S.’ largest Haitian community, has been a leader in the effort to hold the UN accountable on cholera.  For nearly six years, she has raised the issue to President Barack Obama, Secretary John Kerry, former Secretary Hillary Clinton, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.  Additionally, she has held briefings, coordinated conference calls, and supported legislation.

 

 

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Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson is a third-term Congresswoman from Florida representing parts of Northern Miami-Dade and Southeast Broward counties. A former state legislator and school principal, she is the founder of the 5000 Role Models for Excellence Project, a mentoring program for young males at risk of dropping out of school. Congresswoman Wilson also founded the Florida Ports Caucus, a bipartisan taskforce that coordinates federal action in support of Florida’s harbors and waterways. The Florida lawmaker sits on the House Education and the Workforce Committee and is the Ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.

Will the UN finally stop stonewalling Haiti’s cholera victims?

August 19, 2016 - 17:11

The last few weeks have brought damning reports about the UN’s actions regarding cholera in Haiti. Finally, there was a glimmer of hope when for the first time in almost six years, a UN spokesperson admitted UN involvement in the cholera epidemic. The glimmer was dimmed by an Appeals Court’s decision to uphold UN immunity in a case on behalf of the cholera victims. The UN, however, has welcomed the recommendations from one of the two damning reports, and promises to reveal some new actions against cholera in the coming two months. Are these signs that the UN may finally take concrete action against the epidemic it started back in October 2010?

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UN stonewall on Haiti cholera epidemic starts to crumble

George Russell, Fox News

August 19, 2016

The United Nations’ wall of denial concerning its responsibility for Haiti’s six-year-old cholera epidemic—and claims of diplomatic immunity regarding the consequences– appears to be crumbling.

In a statement issued Wednesday, a U.N. spokesperson declared that the world body “has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement” in the “initial outbreak” of the vicious cholera epidemic that first exploded in 2010, and has killed more than 9,300 Haitians while infecting at least 780,000 overall.

Just what the U.N. will do, however, and when, remains a mystery.

The spokesman said only that “a series of options are under consideration” for “a significant new set of actions” in regard to the catastrophe. He added that the “new response will be presented publicly within the next two months, once it has been fully elaborated, agreed with the Haitian authorities and discussed with [U.N.] member states.”

That small glimmer of accountability, immediately obscured in a fog of continuing backroom maneuver, represented a significant step forward in truth-telling for the U.N. on the cholera issue—or at least an acknowledgment that its old excuses about the disaster are not believed by anyone anymore.

Beatrice Lindstrom, an attorney with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, a non-government organization bringing the lawsuit, hailed the latest U.N. announcement as “a groundbreaking first step towards justice.”

But she added immediately that “the U.N. must follow this announcement with action, including issuing a public apology, establishing a plan to provide compensation to the victims who have lost so much, and ensuring that cholera is eliminated in Haiti through robust investment in water and sanitation infrastructure. We will keep fighting until it does.”

It has been a long fight so far. Since 2011, the U.N. has hidden behind a report from a hand-picked panel of experts who pin-pointed the source of the ongoing epidemic as infected human sewage from a contingent of Nepalese peacekeepers in Haiti, part of a U.N. force known as MINUSTAH but then maintained the outbreak “was not the fault of, or deliberate action of, a group or individual.” 

Some members of the expert panel have since changed their minds, as waves of other scientific researchers have shown that the specific cholera strain in the Haitian epidemic could be linked genetically to a strain in Nepal, and that an outbreak had occurred in that country just before its peacekeepers joined the MINUSTAH force.

Even while hiding behind the panel’s wording, the U.N. in 2013 invoked immunity to  insulate itself from a class action lawsuit launched by Haitians who lost family members or suffered from the disease.. The U.S. State Department has backed the U.N.’s immunity defense.

On Thursday a U.S. appeals court dismissed the lawsuit, in effect deferring to the U.N.’s assertion of immunity. The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which has pressed the lawsuit, says it is studying the court decision.

Meantime, the U.N.’s frequent expressions of concern for Haiti’s cholera victims—piggy-backed on pleas for international donors to support an elaborate, multi-billion-dollar water and sanitation development scheme for Haiti—have worn thin, especially in light of its stonewalling attitude on responsibility and troubling signs that nothing else about its behavior in Haiti has changed all that much.

A long-suppressed internal U.N. report examined by Fox News last week has shown that four years after the initial outbreak, U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti were continuing to violate almost all of their own sanitary rules for containing the disease—including the dumping of sewage into public waterways. 

Earlier this week, the New York Times leaked elements of yet another internal U.N. report, by New York University law professor Philip Alston, a long-time U.N. advisor on legal and human rights issues, which also castigated the U.N. for its non-accountable stance.

According to the Times, Alston called the U.N.’s stonewall “morally unconscionable, legally indefensible and politically self-defeating,” and said it “undermines both the U.N.’s overall credibility and the integrity of the Office of the Secretary-General.”

Alston’s report, still in draft stage, will not be published until late September. He declined to comment on the document when queried by Fox News, and its recommendations were not revealed in the Times story on his report.

Even while the Alston document remained under wraps, however, a spokesperson for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon—who has done much of the public stonewalling—said that the Ban’s office “wanted to take this opportunity to welcome this vital report.”

He added that the Alston report and its recommendations “will be a valuable contribution to the U.N.”

No similar hosannas were raised back in 2013, when a U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Haiti, Michel Forst, noted tersely in an annual report that “silence is the worst response” to “the need that victims or their families have expressed to know the truth and perhaps even to be given compensation” for the cholera outbreak.

Forst resigned from his U.N. position shortly afterward for “personal reasons.”

The fact that a new report telling the U.N. that its actions in evading truthful accountability in a horrendous humanitarian disaster could be hailed by the U.N. itself “is a sign of how misplaced its priorities are,” commented Brett Schaefer, an expert on the world organization at the conservative Heritage Institute.

As far back as 2013, Schaefer noted that the U.N. already has a legal mechanism that would allow it to consider compensation for cholera-afflicted Haitians, in the form of a “standing claims commission” that is written into the normal legal agreements allowing peacekeepers to operate in host countries like Haiti. The commissions have never been established in any country by the U.N. since peacekeeping’s inception, he observed.

“This has left Haitians with no recourse but to go to court,” he says.

Schaefer has always supported U.N. immunity to lawsuits like the Haiti class-action effort, on the grounds that member states—especially the U.S.—would pick up the tab, and that the “people responsible, in MINUTAH or the senior leadership of the U.N.” would not “bear the cost of their poor judgment.”

Nonetheless, he notes, some form of accountability is needed “to create incentives to not have these situations arise in the first place.”

So far, the U.N. stonewall has not crumbled enough to provide an answer.

 

Click HERE for the original article.

Former UN Official Lauds the Fight for Cholera Justice

August 19, 2016 - 13:28

“The United Nations has capitulated on the question of Haiti and cholera. After nearly six years of denial and hiding behind the pretext of immunity, the United Nations has finally conceded that it had real responsibility in bringing cholera to Haiti.” In the video below, Stephen Lewis, a former Canadian Ambassador to the UN, comments on the UN’s admission of involvement in the cholera epidemic in Haiti. He also commends BAI and IJDH for our work fighting for justice and helping make this happen. He reminds everyone who cares about justice that it is important to keep fighting despite the challenges.

Stephen Lewis: The Week in Review 128 — The UN Admits Responsibility in Haiti

Stephen Lewis, AIDS-Free World

August 19, 2016

Shortly After Admission of UN Involvement in Cholera, Court Dismisses Case

August 19, 2016 - 11:59

After nearly six years of denying responsibility for bringing cholera to Haiti, a spokesman for the United Nations conceded UN involvement. Shortly after that, a U.S. Appeals Court upheld the UN’s immunity from suit in a claim on behalf of the victims of the UN’s epidemic. The three judges who made the decision said that the appeal was “without merit,” despite the fact that the UN has not held its end of the treaty by providing the victims with access to justice. Lawyers for the victims, who have 90 days to decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court, “will decide how to proceed based on whether the U.N.’s actions fulfill the cholera victims’ rights to an effective remedy.”

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U.S. judge upholds U.N. immunity in Haiti cholera case

Anastasia Moloney, Thomson Reuters

August 19, 2016

BOGOTA, Aug 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A U.S. federal appeals court has upheld the United Nations’ immunity from a damage claim filed by human rights lawyers on behalf of thousands of Haitians killed or sickened by a cholera epidemic they blame on U.N. peacekeepers.

In a decision late on Thursday, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court’s January 2015 dismissal of a lawsuit brought by lawyers seeking compensation and a public apology for 5,000 Haitian cholera victims.

“We have considered all of plaintiffs’ arguments on appeal and find them to be without merit,” the U.S. appellate judges concluded.

Cholera, a water-borne disease, has killed more than 9,000 Haitians and infected over 770,000 since the outbreak began in 2010, U.N. figures show.

The court’s decision came shortly after Farhan Haq, spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, admitted the U.N.’s possible involvement in the introduction of cholera to Haiti.

“…over the past year the U.N. has become convinced it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the remarks were a breakthrough because it was the first time the U.N. had acknowledged any involvement in causing the cholera outbreak.

A 2011 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal, where cholera is endemic, were the likely cause of the outbreak. The peacekeepers on mission in Haiti were stationed near a river and discharged raw sewage.

Brian Concannon, executive director of the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), the group that filed the lawsuit on behalf of cholera victims, said they had 90 days to decide whether to seek an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We will decide how to proceed based on whether the U.N.’s actions fulfill the cholera victims’ rights to an effective remedy,” Concannon said in a statement.

A previous January 2015 ruling on the cholera case by a U.S. court said that the U.N. can block lawsuits established by a 1946 international convention and is thus immune to such legal action.

But lawyers for the plaintiffs have long argued that the U.N. is not entitled to immunity under the convention because it has failed to establish any kind of settlement process for the cholera victims, as required by the same convention.

“This outcome places the onus back on the U.N. to follow through on its commitments to respond justly to victims out of court if it does not want to be an organization that stands for impunity,” Mario Joseph, a Haitian lawyer who heads the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, IJDH’s partner in Haiti, said in a statement.

Health experts say cholera, which had not been documented in Haiti in almost 100 years prior to the outbreak, will continue to kill and infect Haitians as long as they lack access to clean water and sanitation.

(Reporting by Anastasia Moloney, editing by Ros Russell.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

 

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Second Circuit Court Upholds UN Immunity in Cholera Case

August 18, 2016 - 20:42

On the same day that those who care about Haiti were celebrating the United Nations’ admission of responsibility in Haiti’s cholera epidemic, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided to uphold UN immunity in the same epidemic. The panel of three judges who decided the case argued that even though the UN provided cholera victims no chance to seek justice, it is still entitled to immunity. A UN spokesman has promised that the UN will “do much more” for cholera victims, and that new actions will be presented in two months. The plaintiffs in this case have 90 days to decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court. If those actions really are taken, Beatrice Lindstrom, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, says another appeal will be unnecessary.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

U.S. Court Upholds United Nations’ Immunity in Cholera Suit

Jonathan M. Katz, The New York Times

August 18, 2016

A United States federal appeals panel has upheld that the United Nations cannot be sued in American courts, dealing a setback in a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of thousands of cholera victims in Haiti.

The ruling by the three-judge panel in New York was released on Thursday, a day after a spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged for the first time that the United Nations played a role in the outbreak, which killed thousands of people.

In the decision for the panel, Judge José A. Cabranes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit wrote that the United Nations did not lose its legal immunity even if it failed to give the plaintiffs a chance to seek a settlement, as required by an international convention.

The decision slammed the door on a day of muted celebration by the plaintiffs and many people in Haiti who had greeted a statement by Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for Mr. Ban, that the United Nations had “become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak” of cholera and that officials were considering a “significant new set of U.N. actions” to be presented publicly within two months.

Click HERE for the full text.

Following UN Admission of Responsibility for Haiti Cholera, U.S. Appeals Court Upholds UN Immunity

August 18, 2016 - 19:37

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, (in Haiti), mario@ijdh.org, +509-3701-9878 (French, Creole, English)

Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, brian@ijdh.org, +1-541-263-0029 (English, French, Creole)

Beatrice Lindstrom, Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, beatrice@ijdh.org, +1-404-217-1302 (English, Creole, French)

Following UN Admission of Responsibility for Haiti Cholera, U.S. Appeals Court Upholds UN Immunity

Thursday August 18, Port-au-Prince, Boston, New York— In a decision released late today by the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court upheld the United Nations’ immunity from claims filed on behalf of Haitian cholera victims. The decision concerned whether the UN’s alleged breach of obligations to settle claims out of court constituted a condition precedent to its immunity, such that the UN would not be able to claim immunity in court unless it offered another way for victims to seek a remedy.

The decision, authored by Judge Cabranes, held that the UN’s immunity from judicial process was not conditional on its obligation under Section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations to provide individuals harmed by UN operations access to an “appropriate mode to settle claims.” The Court wrote: “…we hold that the UN’s fulfillment of its Section 29 obligation is not a condition precedent to its Section 2 immunity.”

The highly technical legal decision comes less than a day after the UN publicly admitted responsibility for its role in the cholera outbreak and acknowledged it needed to “do much more to address the suffering of those affected.”  The UN announced that it will be rolling out a “significant set of new actions” to address cholera in Haiti in the coming two months. The announcement marks a significant shift for the world organization, which for the past six years has refused to acknowledge responsibility for introducing cholera to Haiti in 2010 though reckless waste disposal from a UN peacekeeping base.  Cholera has since killed more than 9,300 Haitians and infected more 800,000, making it the worst cholera epidemic of modern times.

“We are disappointed that the Court upheld the dismissal of the case, but this only reinforces our commitment to keep fighting for justice for victims,” said Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), which has been advocating for justice for cholera victims since 2011. “This outcome places the onus back on the UN to follow through on its commitments to respond justly to victims out of court if it does not want to be an organization that stands for impunity.”

According to Beatrice Lindstrom, Esq. of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), “the UN has repeatedly used pending litigation as a pretext for avoiding a real discussion of remedies. This decision removes that pretext, and we are ready to work with the UN to ensure that it follows through on its commitment to a ‘new response’ to the Haiti cholera crisis that reaches ‘those who are still affected but also…those who were affected in the past’.”

IJDH filed the class action lawsuit against the UN in October 2013 in the Southern District of New York on behalf of five Haitians and Haitian-Americans whose family members died of the disease or who were infected but managed to survive life-threatening cholera.

Plaintiffs now have 90 days to decide whether to seek an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. “We will decide how to proceed based on whether the UN’s actions fulfill the cholera victims’ rights to an effective remedy,” said Brian Concannon, Jr. Esq., Executive Director of IJDH. “Our goal has always been to secure remedies for victims, whether in or out of court and we will keep working through all available forums until that occurs.”

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UN Admits Role in Haiti Cholera – Media Coverage

August 18, 2016 - 11:19

U.N. Admits Role in Cholera Epidemic in Haiti – The New York Times, August 17, 2016

UN Concedes Role in Haiti Cholera Crisis – The Daily Beast, August 17, 2016

Choléra : l’ONU admet enfin une responsabilité – Le Nouvelliste, August 17, 2016

Ban Claims Will Reverse Self on Haiti Cholera, Sell-Out to Saudi on Yemen, Cover Ups – Inner City Press, August 17, 2016

U.N. accepts role in deadly Haiti cholera outbreak for first time – The Washington Post, August 18, 2016

Épidémie de choléra en Haïti : l’ONU reconnaît en partie ses fautes – Le Figaro, August 18, 2016

Haïti: victoire en demi-teinte pour les victimes du choléra face à l’ONU – Le Point, August 18, 2016

Choléra : l’ONU admet enfin une responsabilité – Radio Television Caraibes, August 18, 2016

As the UN finally admits role in Haiti cholera outbreak – here is how victims must be compensated – The Conversation, August 18, 2016

U.N. Admits Role In Haiti Cholera Outbreak That Has Killed Thousands – NPR, August 18, 2016

UN Admits Role in Haiti Cholera Outbreak for First Time EverteleSUR, August 18, 2016

U.N. Admits Role in Causing Haiti Cholera Outbreak That Killed 9,000 – Democracy Now!, August 18, 2016

UN says it needs to do ‘much more’ for Haiti cholera victims – U.S. News, August 18, 2016

UN admits it played role in Haiti cholera epidemic – The Telegraph, August 18, 2016

UNO räumt erstmals Rolle bei Cholera-Ausbruch in Haiti ein – Die Presse, August 18, 2016

U.N. remarks on Haiti cholera a “groundbreaking” step to justice, say lawyers – Reuters, August 18, 2016

Haiti cholera victims welcome UN recognizing role in outbreak – The Guardian, August 18, 2016

United Nations admits to role in Haiti cholera epidemic – UPI,  August 18, 2016

U.N. Admits Role in Cholera Outbreak in Haiti Essence, August 18, 2016

UN makes first public admission of blame for Haiti cholera outbreak – The Guardian, August 18, 2016

The U.N. may finally admit it caused the Haitian cholera outbreak – Humanosphere, August 18, 2016

Haiti cholera victims welcome UN recognizing role in outbreak – Medical Xpress, August 18, 2016

UN: Must mix compassion and legal line on Haiti cholera – CNN, August 18, 2016

The U.N. finally owns up to its role in Haiti’s cholera outbreak – The Washington Post (editorial), August 18, 2016

After Conyers’ Push, UN Admits Wrong Doing in Haiti Cholera Crisis; Conyers Calls for Full Funding for Cholera Eradication Efforts – John Conyers press release, August 18, 2016

The United Nations admitted its role in the 2010 cholera outbreak that killed thousands – PBS NewsHour, August 18, 2016

UN admits role in 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti – World Socialist Web Site, August 19, 2016

U.N. admits to role in Haiti cholera epidemic – The Hindu, August 19, 2016

UN ‘brought cholera to Haiti’ Ban Ki-Moon admits blame for disease that killed 9,000 – Express, August 19, 2016

UN admits playing role in cholera outbreak that killed almost 10,000 people in Haiti – Independent, August 19, 2016

UN accepts ‘involvement in the outbreak’ of deadly Cholera in Haiti – International Business Times, August 19, 2016

The UN admits responsibility in Haiti – AIDS-Free World, August 19, 2016

UN admits role in Haiti’s deadly cholera outbreak – BBC, August 19, 2016

L’ONU admet ses fautes du bout des lèvres – Le Devoir, August 19, 2016

UN Admits Role in Haiti’s Cholera Outbreak After Years of Denial – The Real News, August 19, 2016

UN to Provide ‘Material Assistance’ to Haiti Cholera Victims – The New York Times, August 19, 2016

UN stonewall on Haiti cholera epidemic starts to crumbleFOX News, August 19, 2016

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News Roundups:

Cholera in Haiti” – The Bulletin, August 18, 2016

PE Hub First ReadPE Hub, August 18, 2016

UN Admits Responsibility for Haiti Cholera

August 18, 2016 - 08:06

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, (in Haiti), mario@ijdh.org, +509-3701-9878 (French, Creole, English)

Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, brian@ijdh.org, +1-541-263-0029 (English, French, Creole)

Beatrice Lindstrom, Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, beatrice@ijdh.org, +1-404-217-1302 (English, Creole, French)

UN Admits Responsibility for Haiti Cholera

Advocates Hail Major Breakthrough, But Commit to Continued Advocacy

Thursday August 18, Port-au-Prince, Boston, New York —For the first time in the six years since it brought the world’s worst cholera epidemic to Haiti, the United Nations has publicly admitted its role in causing the outbreak.  In a statement released today, the UN Spokesperson recognized the need for the organization to do “much more regarding its own involvement in the [cholera] outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera.”

“In Haiti we say ‘viktwa se pou pep la’ — victory is for the people. This is a major victory for the thousands of Haitians who have been marching for justice, writing to the UN and bringing the UN to court,” said Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, which has led a campaign for justice and reparations for victims of cholera since 2011.

The UN also announced that it will be rolling out a “significant set of new actions” in the coming two months, and that “a series of options have been under consideration.” The Spokesperson added that a “new response will be presented publicly within the next two months, once it has been fully elaborated, agreed with the Haitian authorities and discussed with member states.”

“This is a groundbreaking first step towards justice,” said Beatrice Lindstrom, Esq., of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), which has filed a lawsuit against the UN for the reckless sanitation practices that caused the epidemic. “But promises will not stop cholera’s killing or compensate for the damage to poor families in Haiti. The real test is in what comes next. The UN must follow this announcement with action, including issuing a public apology, establishing a plan to provide compensation to the victims who have lost so much, and ensuring that cholera is eliminated in Haiti through robust investment in water and sanitation infrastructure. We will keep fighting until it does.”

“We welcome this announcement, but the UN must ensure that the victims have a central voice in this process,” added Joseph.

The acknowledgment follows a six year global campaign that has brought together cholera victims, Haitian grassroots groups such as MOLEGHAF, activists worldwide, legal experts,human rights and civil society groups, Haitian diaspora organizations, community and political leaders, scientists, academics and media around the world, as well as many of the UN’s own human rights experts, in calling for a just response.

“This is also a victory for people around the world who believe in a United Nations that practices what it preaches on human rights,” said Brian Concannon, Jr. Esq., Executive Directory of IJDH. “The UN’s previous denials of responsibility have left an enormous stain on the organization’s credibility and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s legacy.”

The UN’s announcement was made in response to a critical report by prominent UN adviser Philip Alston, one of several UN-appointed human rights experts who have used their positions to call for a just response from the organization since 2014.

According to the New York Times, the report, which has not yet been publicly released, chastises the UN for a position that “is morally unconscionable, legally indefensible and politically self-defeating.”

This development comes amidst a new report by the UN’s audit office showing that the UN was still discarding contaminated waste into Haitian waterways as recently as June 2015.

“It is high time for the UN to make this right and prove to the world that “human rights for all” means for Haitians too,” said Joseph.

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UN Peacekeeper Babies Spark Outrage

August 12, 2016 - 08:21

There have been many cases of UN Peacekeepers fathering children with Haitian women during their time stationed in the country. However, when they leave, they do not provide any type of child support, making the women responsible for raising the child alone. Recent charges have been brought up against 2 Quebec police officers who face charges of sexual misconduct for their actions in Haiti. To evade disciplinary hearings, the two officers retired days before the hearings were supposed to start. BAI lawyer Mario Joseph is representing 9 Haitian women who had children with peacekeepers . He says that countries need to have a legal framework to ensure that peacekeepers face justice for their actions.

Click HERE for the full article.

Top Haitian human rights lawyer slams UN over sexual misconduct allegations

Benjamin Shingler, CBC News 

August 12th, 2016

The case of two Quebec police officers who avoided disciplinary hearings into allegations of sexual misconduct by retiring points to systemic problems involving the United Nations in Haiti, says one of that country’s leading human rights lawyers.

Mario Joseph says countries such as Canada need to have a legal framework in place to ensure peacekeepers accused of fathering a child or sexual abuse face justice.

“There need to be laws to deal with this,” Joseph said Wednesday in an interview in Montreal, where he was part of a World Social Forum panel on peacekeeping in Haiti.

Often, the worst punishment they face is repatriation, he said. Last month, CBC News reported that a Sûreté du Québec sergeant under investigation for sleeping with Haitian women while working as a United Nations peacekeeper was able to evade a disciplinary hearing by retiring days before the hearing was to begin.

Click HERE for the full article.