Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

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Des femmes demandent représentation égale dans les élections

May 8, 2015 - 06:48

Pendant que Haïti se prepare pour les élections, beaucoup ont été en gardant un œil sur la représentation des femmes parmi les candidats. La semaine dernière, des groupes de femmes ont pris une position contre le faible nombre en protestant devant le tribunal de paix d’Ennery. Elles on juré de fermer les portes du Bureau électoral communal si leurs revendications ne sont pas satisfaites.

Partie de l’article est ci-dessous. Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

Des femmes bloquent l’installation des membres du BEC

Jodherson Cadet, Le Nouvelliste
8 mai 2015

Des dizaines de femmes très remontées ont empêché jeudi l’installation des membres du Bureau électoral communal (BEC) d’Ennery. Elles réclament la réintégration de Mme Joselle Alciné qui a été licenciée après la réévaluation des membres des bureaux électoraux.

Pancartes en main, les protestataires ont vociféré et scandé des slogans hostiles aux membres du Conseil électoral provisoire (CEP). Elles exigent énergiquement le respect du quota de 30%. Pour soutenir leur démarche, ces femmes ont investi les locaux du tribunal de paix et en ont interdit l’accès aux autorités compétentes.

Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

Cholera on the Rise but Resources Still Lacking in Haiti

May 7, 2015 - 11:31

The UN coordinator for Haiti’s cholera outbreak has said that years of work to fight the epidemic may be jeopardized by lack of donor interest in the epidemic even as the number of cases is rising. While last year saw the lowest number of new cases since the outbreak began, the numbers this year are rapidly increasing. THe UN is still struggling to raise funds for this epidemic which it caused but still will not accept responsibility for.

UN struggles to stem new rise in Haiti cholera cases

AFP, Yahoo News
May 7, 2015

United Nations (United States) (AFP) – A deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti that experts say was introduced by UN peacekeepers from Nepal is on the rise, with hundreds of new cases registered weekly, a UN official said Thursday.

Pedro Medrano, the UN coordinator for Haiti’s cholera outbreak, said years of work to beat back the disease are in jeopardy as donors turn away from the emergency.

“Unfortunately because of lack of resources and of the rainy season, in the last six months we have moved from a thousand new cases a month to almost a thousand a week, ” Medrano told AFP in an interview.
The UN official predicts more than 50,000 new cases this year, up from 28,000 last year, the lowest level since the outbreak began in October 2010.

More than 8,800 people have died from cholera and 736,000 Haitians have been infected since the outbreak that expert studies have shown was brought to the island by Nepalese troops.

Studies traced the bacteria to the sewage system of a peacekeeping base run by the Nepalese that contaminated a river used by many Haitians for drinking water.

This year alone, 113 people have died and there have been 11,721 new cases in Haiti but there are fears that with the start of the rainy season in June, the number of cases will soar.

At the same time, many aid agencies have left Haiti and treatment centers have shut down.

“The risk here is that all the progress we made so far can be lost,” said Medrano.

“For the donor community this is not an emergency, and because it is not considered an emergency, the money, the resources we need to deal with the humanitarian crisis are not coming,” he said.

Left unchecked, the epidemic could spread to neighboring Dominican Republic or Cuba, he warned.

The United Nations has officially refused to recognize its responsibility for the cholera outbreak despite lawsuits brought by the victims, but it is leading an effort to rid Haiti of the disease.

The United Nations is hoping to vaccinate 300,000 people this year, but it needs $1.9 million for the effort.
About $37 million dollars in total are needed to fight cholera this year.

Click HERE for the original article.

Pioneering a Networked Approach to International Justice from Boston: A Discussion of Georges v. United Nations

May 7, 2015 - 09:30

Attend this powerhouse panel on the cholera case, at the Boston Bar Association.

WHAT:

A Boston-based collaboration of non-profit and large firm lawyers are spearheading what the New York Times called “the most serious challenge yet” to international organization immunity, while pioneering an innovative model for 21st century human rights advocacy.  The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and WilmerHale are pursuing a cutting edge tort suit on behalf of the victims of the cholera epidemic that the United Nations introduced to Haiti in 2010 through reckless disposal of waste at a peacekeeper base.

Panelists will discuss the lawsuit, Georges v. United Nations, currently before the Second Circuit, and explore how private sector pro bono lawyers and non-profit lawyers can effectively collaborate on initiatives that combine legal and political objectives. They will also discuss how legal strategies can form the centerpiece of a broader campaign, driving media, science, grassroots activism and politics far from Boston.

WHERE:

Boston Bar Association
16 Beacon Street
Boston, MA

WHEN:

12:30 to 1:30pm
Thursday, May 7, 2015

 

Click HERE for more on the panel, and background info.

NY Assembly Takes Stand on DR Statelessness Problem

May 6, 2015 - 13:22

The situation for Dominicans of Haitian descent really came to international attention when a DR Constitutional Court passed a law that left hundreds of thousands stateless. Since then, DR has created a plan for nationalization but the majority of stateless people were still left out. At the urging of a few New York State Assembly members and many human rights advocates, the Assembly has adopted a resolution that condemns DR’s treatment of Dominicans of Haitian descent. Hopefully this is a step towards ending these human rights violations.

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

NYS Assembly Passes Resolution Condemning DR Ruling

The Haitian Times
May 6, 2015

The New York State Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the denationalization of Dominicans of Haitian descent, Assembly member Rodneyse Bichotte announced on Tuesday. The bill states that New Yorkers–Dominicans, Haitians, Caribbeans, and many others–care about what’s happening inside Dominican Republic.

“Today’s vote sends an unequivocal message that the Dominican Republic’s persistent abuse of Dominicans of Haitian descent must stop,” Bichotte said. “As happy as I am to bring my hunger strike to an end, it was nothing compared to the deprivation and persecution suffered by Dominicans of Haitian descent. I applaud my colleagues in the Assembly for joining me in voting to condemn these human rights violations.”

Click HERE for the full text.

Court Deems UN Suspension of Whistleblower Illegal

May 6, 2015 - 12:08

Last month, the United Nations came under fire for suspending an employee who allegedly breached protocol in sending a report to the French government. This report details sexual abuse of children by French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic and many suspected that the UN suspended the employee because it didn’t want this information to become public. Now, an appeal tribunal has ordered the UN to lift the suspension, which the court deems “unlawful.”

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

UN suspension of sexual abuse report whistleblower is unlawful, tribunal rules

Sandra Laville, The Guardian
May 6, 2015

An appeal tribunal has ordered the United Nations to immediately lift the suspension of a whistleblower who disclosed the alleged sexual abuse of children by peacekeeping troops in Africa to the French authorities.

A judge said on Wednesday the decision to suspend Anders Kompass, the director of field operations for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, was “prima facie unlawful”. He ordered his employers in the UN to lift his suspension immediately to prevent further damage to his reputation.

The decision is a blow to senior UN officials who have repeatedly defended their treatment of Kompass, claiming he breached strict protocols about the passing on of confidential information to outside authorities.

Kompass leaked an internal UN report on the alleged sexual abuse of children by French troops in Central African Republic to French prosecutors last summer. The French immediately mounted an investigation and revealed last week they were investigating up to 14 soldiers for alleged abuse. The French authorities wrote to thank Kompass for passing on the internal report detailing the abuse, the Guardian has revealed.

Click HERE for the full text.

Beatrice Lindstrom Receives NYU Recent Graduate Award

May 6, 2015 - 12:06

We are so proud of IJDH Staff Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom for receiving the Recent Graduate Award from New York University. Beatrice has led the efforts to secure justice from the UN for the cholera epidemic it brought to Haiti. Last month, NYU also invited her to speak in the inaugural conference of their new Bernstein Institute for Human Rights. If you missed it, watch the recording here.

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

Evan Chesler ’75, Troy McKenzie ’00, Thomas Buergenthal ’60, and Beatrice Lindstrom ’10 honored with alumni awards at Reunion 2015

NYU Law
May 6, 2015

Amidst gorgeous New York City spring weather, twelve classes from 1955 to 2010 gathered at NYU School of Law last weekend to celebrate at Reunion 2015. The weekend schedule included academic PROGRAMMING, dining, dancing, and more. At dinners held for the various reunion years, four alumni were honored for their exceptional work at the Law School and beyond.

Beatrice Lindstrom ’10, a staff attorney with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, received the Recent Graduate Award. A former Root-Tilden-Kern scholar, Lindstrom has devoted her years since graduation to the pursuit of access to justice in Haiti for communities devastated by the 2010 earthquake. Most recently, she has been involved in litigation against the United Nations for its role in Haiti’s cholera outbreak—a suit she discussed recently at the inaugural conference of the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.
Click HERE for the full text.

Peacekeepers Should Learn from Cholera to Prevent Malaria

May 5, 2015 - 08:20

When United Nations peacekeepers brought cholera to Haiti in 2010, many were shocked that the UN didn’t screen the troops before they were deployed, particularly when Nepal is known to have endemic cholera and Haiti is known to have poor infrastructure. Now, many of those same people are hoping that the UN will use Haiti as a lesson for peacekeeping in sub-Saharan Africa: As Southeast Asia has a particularly challenging type of malaria, troops sent from there to sub-Saharan Africa should be screened and treated before being deployed.

Part of the paper is below. Click HERE for the full text and summary points.

Screening and Treating UN Peacekeepers to Prevent the Introduction of Artemisinin-Resistant Malaria into Africa

Stan Houston & Adam Houston, PLOS Medicine
May 5, 2015

Introduction: The Precedent of Cholera in Haiti
In the aftermath of the massive earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, an ongoing epidemic of cholera introduced by United Nations peacekeepers has resulted in over 730,000 cases and over 8,700 deaths—the largest single-country cholera epidemic in nearly a century [1,2]. This disaster should serve as an urgent warning about the potential for introduction by UN troops of other serious infectious diseases into the vulnerable populations they were sent to protect. Indeed, the UN has recently agreed to avoid rotation of African troops to Haiti because of concern about the introduction of Ebola [3]. But the tragedy in Haiti pales in comparison to the scale of long-term impact on malaria morbidity, mortality, and control programs that would result from the introduction of artemisinin-resistance into sub-Saharan Africa, where 85% of the world’s falciparum malaria cases and over 90% of all malaria deaths now occur [4]. This threat demands urgent action, in particular on the part of the UN.

The Importance of Artemisinins and the Threat of Resistance
Artemisinin derivatives are currently the mainstay of antimalarial treatment throughout the world. Their implementation, along with expanded use of insecticide-treated bed nets, accounts for a large part of the reduction in malaria deaths in Africa over the past decade [5]. Consequently, the emergence of decreasing responsiveness to artemisinin derivatives over the past few years is deeply concerning. Initially observed in Cambodia, resistant strains now appear to be spreading rapidly within the region and have been observed in Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and, most recently, at the Indian border [6–8]. This pattern of rapid dissemination evokes the history of chloroquine resistance, which first appeared in the same area of Southeast Asia over 50 years ago. Chloroquine resistance soon reached Africa, where its inexorable spread across the continent over a few years resulted in the loss of a safe, inexpensive treatment and a 2-to-3-fold increase in malaria deaths and admissions for severe malaria [9,10]. With no comparably effective treatment alternative available, the establishment of artemisinin-resistant malaria in sub-Saharan Africa would be expected to result in a substantial reversal of the recent progress in malaria control and a major increase in malaria illness and death.

New WHO initiatives to prevent the emergence of artemisinin resistance by ensuring the drug is only available coformulated with other antimalarials represent an important positive step, to the degree that they are effectively implemented. Any positive impact of these policies, however, would be rapidly overwhelmed if resistant parasites were introduced directly into the fertile soil of a highly malaria-endemic population.

Click HERE for the full text and summary points.

How the Clintons “Govern” Haiti

May 4, 2015 - 15:16

Hillary and Bill Clinton often discuss their love for Haiti ever since they traveled there for their honeymoon. However, their track record of unfulfilled promises to Haiti, especially after the 2010 earthquake, leaves more questions than answers. This article delves into the Clintons’ influence in Haiti and why some say that “after everything is in place…you see the Clintons at every level” of goings-on in the small country.

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

The King and Queen of Haiti

Jonathan Katz, Politico Magazine
May 4, 2015


Sunday, January 30, 2011. Two hundred thousand people occupied Egypt’s Tahrir Square, defying a military curfew to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Tunisia’s authoritarian leader had just been overthrown, unleashing a wave of anti-government protests from Yemen to Syria to Morocco. South Sudan’s provisional president announced his people had voted overwhelmingly for independence, clearing the way for the breakup of Africa’s largest country. Yet as Hillary Clinton rushed to Andrews Air Force Base to catch her battered government-issue 727, the secretary of state was not headed to Cairo, Tunis or Juba. She was going to Haiti.

Haiti doesn’t seem like a place that would be central to a U.S. presidential candidate’s foreign policy. It’s a small country, whose 10.3 million people inhabit the western third of a Caribbean island the size of South Carolina. They are the poorest people in the hemisphere when you average their country’s meager $8.5 billion GDP among them, and would seem poorer still if you ignored the huge share held by the country’s tiny elite—which controls virtually everything worth controlling, from the banks and ports, to agriculture and, often, politics. It is not a major exporter of anything. Even its location, 500 nautical miles from the Florida Keys, has been of only passing strategic importance to the United States since a brutal 1915-1934 U.S. occupation assured no European power would surpass its influence there.

Yet the world’s most powerful couple have an abiding interest in this out-of-the-way place; the island where Bill Clinton four decades ago recommitted himself to politics after an eye-opening journey and an evening with a Vodou priest. During her tenure at State, Hillary traveled to Haiti four times, as often as she did Japan, Afghanistan or Russia. Bill Clinton continues to visit even as her presidential campaign starts up. He attended the February dedication of Port-au-Prince’s new luxury Marriott hotel, a trip on which he reaffirmed, once again, that his work in Haiti represented “one of the great joys of my life.”

Click HERE for the full text.

Fourth Annual Haitian Art Exhibit

May 2, 2015 - 13:30

WHAT:

The Fourth Annual Haitian Art Exhibit is at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, featuring local New England Artists and for the first time in New England, some 35 pieces from young artists of Jacmel. It’s open May 2 through June 27, in celebration of Haitian Heritage Month (May).

WHERE:

1 Wells Avenue
Newton MA, 02459

WHEN:

Opening reception Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 4:30pm

Exhibit open May 2 – June 27, 2015

Haiti Cholera Case is an Innovative Approach to Justice

May 1, 2015 - 14:01

Our case against the UN for its lack of accountability for Haiti’s cholera epidemic has been called “the most serious challenge yet” to international organization immunity. We couldn’t do it without a network of allies who also want to see justice for Haiti’s cholera victims. The article below features an interview with one of those allies, Jack Regan of the WilmerHale, which collaborates on the case pro bono.

Click HERE for the full text.

Georges v. UN: An Innovative Approach to Justice for Haiti

BBA Week
May 1, 2015

Five years ago, the island nation of Haiti was struck by a catastrophic earthquake, killing hundreds of thousands of people. Months after the 2010 disaster, Haiti faced another threat: cholera. Suddenly, an island that had never had a cholera outbreak in its recorded history was facing one of worst epidemics in the world. To date, the epidemic has killed nearly 9,000 and sickened 700,000 more.

A study into the origin of the bacteria led to a UN peacekeeper base, where human waste was dumped into Haiti’s principal river. As recently as January of this year, courts have ruled that the UN is immune to lawsuits on the epidemic.

Now, a Boston-based collaboration of non-profit and large firm lawyers is pioneering an innovative model for 21st century human rights advocacy.  Next week, the BBA will host apanel with The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), Nixon Peabody, and WilmerHale to discuss their cutting-edge tort suit, Georges v. United Nations, on behalf of the epidemic victims.

BBA Week spoke with BBA Past President Jack Regan (WilmerHale) on his firm’s participation in the case and why other attorneys should attend the May 7th panel.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Lessons from Haiti to Nepal: What Not to Do

April 30, 2015 - 15:15

There were many missteps made in the immediate aftermath of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake that led to the well-known failures of the relief and reconstruction efforts, even to this day. Jonathan Katz, who wrote an entire books on those efforts, is now speaking out to make sure the same missteps aren’t made in Nepal after their devastating quake.

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

Five things the international community shouldn’t do after a disaster

Shirin Jaafari, PRI’s TheWorld
April 30, 2015

Jonathan Katz was a reporter for the Associated Press in Haiti in 2010, the year a powerful earthquake there killed more than 100,000 people. He was able to see how outside help flowed into the stricken country — and how many outsiders, himself included, messed up in the aftermath of the disaster.

Katz wrote about those experiences in a book called “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster,” and he’s now worried that some of the same mistakes will replay themselves following the earthquake in Nepal.

Here are five key things Katz says the international community must remember in responding to disasters.

  1. 1. Don’t assume disorder will break out

 

Click HERE for the full text and audio.

Poetry Month/Haitian Heritage Celebration

April 30, 2015 - 15:00

Join author Charlot Lucien in Boston for a poetry reading and book signing.

WHAT:

CelebratE Poetry the Haitian Way and pay Tribute to Haitian Heritage Month.
Une Célébration du mois de la Poésie et de l’héritage historique et culturel Haitien.

WHERE:

Hyde Park Branch of the Boston Public Library
Bibliothèque publique de Boston, branche de Hyde Park
35 Harvard Avenue
Boston, MA

WHEN:

6pm
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Jeudi 30 avril 2015

Ensure Nepal’s Reconstruction Isn’t Like Haiti’s: Work with Locals

April 30, 2015 - 11:50

Almost a week after Nepal’s devastating earthquake, people worldwide are looking to see how relief and reconstruction will be handled. Those who remember Haiti’s earthquake 5 years earlier, and the continued failure to rebuild Haiti, are hoping the international community will do a better job in Nepal. This article suggests five ways to make sure Nepal’s post-quake response doesn’t end up like Haiti’s.

How not to rebuild NepalLessons from Haiti five years after its earthquake

Nixon Boumba, The Washington Post
April 30, 2015

Last Saturday, I watched with the rest of the world as images emerged in the wake of Nepal’s violent earthquake: the dusty faces of survivors, bloodied bodies, the ruined historic buildings. It reminded me of the devastation I witnessed after the earthquake in my homeland, Haiti, five years ago — and it made me worry about what will come next in Nepal.

Soon the people of Nepal, with the help of international donors, will begin the rebuilding process. They will face some of the same challenges that we faced in Haiti — and I hope that they will be able to avoid the grave mistakes made by Haitians and by the well-intentioned donors who came to our aid.

There were two disasters in Haiti: the earthquake, and then the humanitarian crisis that followed. More than $10 billion in foreign aid still hasn’t enabled our country to recover from this disaster. In the hope that Nepal will learn from our experience, here are five lessons for effective and just disaster relief:

1. Listen to local people.

Most aid projects in Haiti promised “community participation,” yet most failed to truly include local people. What happened with housing provides a clear example. Many aid groups insisted on moving earthquake survivors who were living under tarps into “transitional shelters.” They ignored the objections of Haitians, who feared the flimsy plywood structures — prone to leaks and collapse — would become their permanent homes. Aid groups spent more than $500 million on these transitional shelters,” but have built less than 9,000 new long-term houses. Tragically, yesterday’s “temporary” shelters have become today’s permanent slums.

2. Put money in the hands of local people.

Many aid groups sent well-meaning but barely trained volunteers and deployed foreign doctors and nurses to areas where skilled Haitian professionals were readily available. Of every dollar given to the earthquake response in Haiti, less than a penny went to Haitian organizations.

If these funds had supported local people and organizations, the money would have gone much further. I witnessed the remarkable work of community groups that helped house and care for the more than 600,000 people who fled Port-au-Prince to the countryside. The groups trained displaced people to become farmers so they could earn a living and rebuild their lives.

3. Reach the most vulnerable people.

When a disaster strikes, people who were already poor or oppressed — or who live far from the center of relief efforts — tend to suffer disproportionately. In Haiti, many villages on the periphery of Port-au-Prince didn’t receive food or water for weeks after the quake. Oppressed minorities, including the LGBT community, were particularly vulnerable to discrimination and violence in displacement camps and were overlooked by aid groups.

4. Invest in infrastructure now to prevent larger disasters in the future.

Most aid after the earthquake focused on the short term, often ignoringlong-term needs, especially infrastructure needed to prevent humanitarian crises in the future. My country is still struggling to contain the largest modern outbreak of cholera in history. The disease is thought to have been introduced by United Nations peacekeeping forces after the 2010 earthquake, but the crisis does not end there. This epidemic has continued largely because relief funds have unfortunately not been used to help Haitibuild sufficient sewage systems.

5. Aid must be coordinated, efficient and transparent.

Though coordinating aid seems like the most obvious thing to do, it didn’t happen in Haiti. Many aid groups clamored to support high-profile projects, which resulted in wasteful redundancies in some areas while allowing people in less well-known places to languish. Lack of accountability about foreign aid was the rule, with donors and Haitians receiving little news about how this aid was being spent.

In the coming days, the people of Nepal will need essential supplies like food, clean water and blankets. Later, they’ll need support to rebuild broken infrastructure and prepare for future natural disasters. Given the great need, governments and aid organizations must carefully discern how they provide that assistance. The decisions the international community makes now will reverberate into Nepal’s future — and I hope it won’t look anything like Haiti’s recent past.

 

Click HERE for the original.

UN Worker Suspended for Whistleblowing on Sexual Abuse

April 29, 2015 - 15:02

In a recent report, French United Nations peacekeepers were accused of child sexual abuse and exploitation in the Central African Republic. When the UN failed to act to stop the abuse, UN aid worker Anders Kompass passed the report on to the French government. Kompass has now been suspended for “the leaking of confidential information.” Given the UN’s history of suspending whistleblowers, human rights advocates aren’t so sure about the motivation for this one.

UN aid worker suspended for leaking report on child abuse by French troopsAnders Kompass said to have passed confidential document to French authorities because of UN’s failure to stop abuse of children in Central African Republic

Sandra Laville, The Guardian
April 29, 2015

A senior United Nations aid worker has been suspended for disclosing to prosecutors an internal report on the sexual abuse of children by French peacekeeping troops in the Central African Republic.

Sources close to the case said Anders Kompass passed the document to the French authorities because of the UN’s failure to take action to stop the abuse. The report documented the sexual exploitation of children as young as nine by French troops stationed in the country as part of international peacekeeping efforts.

Kompass, who is based in Geneva, was suspended from his post as director of field operations last week and accused of leaking a confidential UN report and breaching protocols. He is under investigation by the UN office for internal oversight service (OIOS) amid warnings from a senior official that access to his case must be “severely restricted”. He faces dismissal.

The treatment of the aid worker, who has been involved in humanitarian work for more than 30 years, has taken place with the knowledge of senior UN officials, including Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, and Susana Malcorra, chef de cabinet in the UN, according to documents relating to the case.

The abuses took place in 2014 when the UN mission in the country, Minusca, was in the process of being set up.

The Guardian has been passed the internal report on the sexual exploitation by Paula Donovan, co-director of the advocacy group Aids Free World, who is demanding an independent commission inquiry into the UN’s handling of sexual abuse by peacekeepers.

It was commissioned by the UN office of the high commissioner for human rights after reports on the ground that children, who are among the tens of thousands displaced by the fighting, were being sexually abused.

Entitled Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces and stamped “confidential” on every page, the report details the rape and sodomy of starving and homeless young boys by French peacekeeping troops who were supposed to be protecting them at a centre for internally displaced people in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic.

Donovan said: “The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations’ appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning, but the awful truth is that this isn’t uncommon. The UN’s instinctive response to sexual violence in its ranks – ignore, deny, cover up, dissemble – must be subjected to a truly independent commission of inquiry with total access, top to bottom, and full subpoena power.”

The UN has faced several scandals in the past relating to its failure to act over paedophile rings operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo and Bosnia. It has also faced allegations of sexual misconduct by its troops in Haiti, Burundi and Liberia.

The treatment of Kompass, a Swedish national, threatens to spark a major diplomatic row.

This month, the Swedish ambassador to the United Nations warned senior UN officials “it would not be a good thing if the high commissioner for human rights forced” Kompass to resign. The ambassador threatened to go public if that happened and to engage in a potentially ugly and harmful debate.

The abuses detailed in the internal report took place before and after Minusca was set up last year. Interviews with the abused children were carried out between May and June last year by a member of staff from the office of the high commissioner for human rights and a Unicef specialist. The children identified represent just a snapshot of the numbers potentially being abused.

The boys, some of whom were orphans, disclosed sexual exploitation, including rape and sodomy, between December 2013 and June 2014 by French troops at a centre for internally displaced people at M’Poko airport in Bangui.

The children described how they were sexually exploited in return for food and money. One 11-year-old boy said he was abused when he went out looking for food. A nine-year-old described being sexually abused with his friend by two French soldiers at the IDP camp when they went to a checkpoint to look for something to eat.

The child described how the soldiers forced him and his friend to carry out a sex act. The report describes how distressed the child was when disclosing the abuse and how he fled the camp in terror after the assault. Some of the children were able to give good descriptions of the soldiers involved.

In summer 2014, the report was passed to officials within the office of the high commissioner for human rights in Geneva. When nothing happened, Kompass sent the report to the French authorities and they visited Bangui and began an investigation.

It is understood a more senior official was made aware of Kompass’s actions and raised no objections. But last month Kompass was called in and accused of breaching UN protocols by leaking details of a confidential report, according to sources.

Kompass’s emails have been seized as part of the investigation into the alleged leak. One senior UN official has said of Kompass that “it was his duty to know and comply” with UN protocols on confidential documents.

Bea Edwards, of the Government Accountability Project, an international charity that supports whistleblowers, condemned the UN for its witch-hunt against a whistleblower who had acted to stop the abuse of children.

“We have represented many whistleblowers in the UN system over the years and in general the more serious the disclosure they make the more ferocious the retaliation,” said Edwards. “Despite the official rhetoric, there is very little commitment at the top of the organisation to protect whistleblowers and a strong tendency to politicise every issue no matter how urgent.”

UN sources confirmed an investigation by the French was ongoing – in cooperation with the UN – into allegations of a very serious nature against peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.

On Wednesday the French government confirmed that authorities in Paris were investigating the allegations. A statement from the defence ministry said the government “was made aware at the end of July 2014 by the UN’s high commission for human rights of accusations by children that they had been sexually abused by French soldiers.”

An investigation was opened shortly after by Paris prosecutors, it said.

“The defence ministry has taken and will take the necessary measures to allow the truth to be found,” the statement added. “If the facts are proven, the strongest penalties will be imposed on those responsible for what would be an intolerable attack on soldiers’ values.”

The ministry said the abuse was alleged by around 10 children and reportedly took place at a centre for internally displaced people near the airport of the capital Bangui between December 2013 and June 2014.

The ministry said that French investigators had gone to the CAR from 1 August last year to begin their inquiry.

A spokesman for the UN office of the high commissioner for human rights confirmed an investigation was under way into the leaking of confidential information by a staff member.

 

Click HERE for the original article.

UN Peacekeepers Caught in Another Rape Scandal

April 29, 2015 - 11:13

United Nations peacekeepers often get away with crimes they commit while serving in fragile countries. The widespread sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN peacekeepers is one of the most pervasive illustrations of this problem. Criminal accountability is scarcely enforced, as it falls on their home countries to prosecute peacekeepers, and the UN rarely follows up with cases to ensure accountability. Whistleblowers have even been fired in order to maintain the status quo of peacekeeper impunity and cover up the horrific details of sexual abuse and exploitation committed by UN peacekeepers. Most recently, a whistleblower from within the UN has been suspended for leaking an internal report documenting a case of child abuse committed by French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. How can an organization that stands for human rights be so lenient in cases of human rights violations?

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

French peacekeeper scandal exposes UN impunity again

Rosa Freedman, The Conversation
April 29, 2015

It has emerged that a UN senior humanitarian aid worker has been suspended for leaking an internal report on child abuse committed by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) to the advocacy group Aids-Free World.

The details that emerge from the report, Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces, show that once again UN peacekeepers have abused their position and power to prey on the most vulnerable individuals in the most horrific circumstances.

Echoing previous events in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (among others), the report finds that children displaced by the war – some as young as nine years old – were apparently raped and molested by peacekeepers in return for UN food hand-outs.

The allegations date back to 2014, when the CAR peacekeeping mission was being set up – and it’s clear from the report that the UN has knowledge of the abuses taking place, but has done nothing so far to hold the peacekeepers who committed those crimes accountable.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Leading the Way or Dragging Behind? The UN’s Obligations in a Changing International Legal Order

April 29, 2015 - 08:00

Join Mario Joseph in DC for an amazing panel on UN accountability.

WHAT:

This panel is part of the American Bar Association Section of International Law’s Spring Meeting. Here’s their description of the panel:

The UN has been one of the world’s foremost promoters of the rule of law, and has led the way on many of the developments in international law that have come to be critical parts of international law over the past few decades, such as the evolution of international human rights law, the expansion of international law to include non-state actors, and the development of draft articles on the responsibility of international organizations. The UN’s drastic expansion of operations over the past few decades has also led to increasing allegations of non-compliance with the rule of law in countries where it operates. Prominent examples include complicity in the Srebrenica massacre, sexual violence perpetrated by UN peacekeepers, and responsibility for introducing cholera to Haiti. The panel will use the UN’s responsibility for cholera in Haiti as a case study and jumping off point to discuss UN obligations against the new legal order that it itself has created.

SPEAKERS:
Muneer Ahmad, Yale Law School, Clinical Professor of Law & Supervising Attorney, New Haven, CT
Kysseline Cherestal, ActionAid, Washington, DC
Mario Joseph, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
Bruce Rashkow, Columbia University, New York, NY

WHERE:

Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill
Washington, DC

WHEN:

11am to 12:30pm
April 29, 2015

 

Click HERE for the full meeting program and registration info.

Lessons From Haiti’s Earthquake to Nepal’s

April 28, 2015 - 10:22

In the wake of a devastating earthquake in Nepal, many are waiting to see whether aid organizations have learned anything from the botched response to Haiti’s 2010 quake. After a disaster, decisions made within the first 72 hours are crucial to the future direction of the response. This article describes lessons that should be learned from the response to Haiti’s earthquake, both by aid organizations and by journalists reporting on the situation.

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

How Not to Report on an Earthquake

Jonathan M. Katz, The New York Times Magazine
April 28, 2015

As of Tuesday morning, exactly three days have passed since a 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook Nepal, killing thousands and leaving millions in need of help. In disaster response, the end of the first 72 hours is often considered an inflection point: the unofficial moment when the most acute phase passes, the odds of finding trapped survivors plunge and the relief effort tends to really pick up steam.

Three days into a crisis, roads and airports are often reopening, and outside responders and journalists are arriving in droves. The decisions made at this time can determine the course of the response. A misstep now can have ramifications lasting years, even decades.

I know this because I lived through a moment of just this sort five years ago, in Haiti. I was in Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010, when a powerful quake rippled outward from an epicenter 15 miles from the capital. In 40 seconds, the shock waves, according to some estimates, literally decimated the population, killing 100,000 to 316,000 people in an overcrowded, overbuilt metropolitan area that was home to more than three million. Governments and aid groups mobilized cargo planes and ships, deploying thousands of soldiers, search-and-rescue teams and medical responders. I was the lone correspondent in the country’s lone full-time foreign news bureau when the quake hit, but I wasn’t on my own for long. By the 72-hour mark, hundreds of reporters — if not more — had joined me in town, beaming images and accounts of the destruction around the world.

Time seemed to stop during the earthquake, and only gradually picked up speed in the days that followed. The first night felt as if it would never end. Aftershocks roiled the ground. People were scouring the rubble for loved ones and neighbors, but the quake had hit in the late afternoon, and in a country with little infrastructure and electricity, it was impossible to continue the search once darkness fell. Nearly everyone who could be was outdoors that night, many of them singing and praying, waiting to see if help would come from outside.

It did, though slowly at first. A trickle of aid convoys arrived overland from the Dominican Republic the next morning. A United States military advance team landed at the damaged airport and took over its operations, setting up an emergency air-traffic-control system.

Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti Earthquake Aid Failures Airing on HBO

April 24, 2015 - 11:15

The major question that came up every year after Haiti’s earthquake is “Where did the money go?” Vice News is hoping to bring answers to the American public by airing a documentary on this question on HBO, April 24, 2015 at 11pm. The documentary looks at many failed US-backed projects in Haiti and why they failed, including circumventing Haitian organizations and lack of oversight.

Read part of the article below. Click HERE for the full text.

HBO to Air VICE’s “Haitian Money Pit” Tonight, and It Is Worth Watching

Rick Cohen, Nonprofit Quarterly
April 24, 2015

When Vikram Gandhi presents tonight’s VICE News story on U.S. aid to Haiti—“Haitian Money Pit”—the story will have news both new and old.

The new news is that Gandhi names places and names where U.S. aid to Haiti was misused, abused, ripped off, and generally screwed up.

It’s about time that the American public learned firsthand, with poignant video, about the misguided direction and use of much of the charitable and governmental aid that went to help Haiti recover from the devastating earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010. The show, which will be aired on HBO at 11pm Eastern on Friday, hits on a variety of programs and practices that were inflicted on Haitians in the name of humanitarian relief and longer-term development assistance—some stupefyingly horrific, some darkly comic, including the following:

  • $10 billion in aid to Haiti that still hasn’t led to permanent housing or decent water and sewage systems, leading to Haiti’s suffering the largest modern outbreak of cholera in history. Seven hundred thousand people affected—and nearly 9,000 deaths—from a disease that’s preventable through providing people with clean drinking water. The problem of polluted water supplies causing cholera continues even today.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Here’s a debrief of the episode, from Vice’s YouTube channel:

Over 100 Parties Registered for Haiti Elections

April 23, 2015 - 15:26

Today, April 23, was the deadline for candidates to register for Haiti’s upcoming elections. With over 100 parties registered (a record number), the Council in charge of elections (the CEP) is worried about how to present the ballots. Fitting all these candidates would be a challenge for any country but in a country with a high rate of illiteracy, it’s especially tough to make sure all candidates are distinguishable and fairly represented. The CEP is encouraging parties to consolidate and international observers are hoping for the same.

Haiti’s politicians scramble to register for overdue elections

Peter Granitz, Reuters
April 23, 2015

(Reuters) – Candidates from as many as 125 political parties in Haiti on Thursday rushed to meet a deadline to register to run in the country’s long-overdue elections later this year.

The impoverished Caribbean island has a history of turbulent elections, but that does not appear to dissuade candidates.

By late afternoon more than 2,000 people had registered for 119 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 20 open Senate seats, according to officials.

Lines at the electoral office in Port au Prince poured into the street during the day. The deadline to register for the Aug. 9 legislative elections was set to expire at midnight.

“Individual people are allowed to form political parties,” said Yolette Mengual, expressing a hint of resignation. Mengual, a member of the provisional electoral council that organizes the elections, said each party will be listed numerically on the ballot.

Among the last day entrants: First Lady Sophia Martelly. She waited until the final day to register her candidacy for Senate.

Haitians called in to local radio stations to question whether she is an American citizen, which would disqualify her. Like her husband, President Michel Martelly, she lived in the United States for several years before returning to Haiti.

International observers are hopeful the number of parties will decrease, producing a shorter ballot as politicians form alliances.

“A party could draw spot 126 but form a coalition with the party listed second,” Mengual said.

Mengual said the electoral council cannot force parties to form coalitions, but it is recommending them to do so.

President Michel Martelly has ruled Haiti by decree since Parliament dissolved Jan. 12 when the terms of every member of the Chamber of Deputies, and a third of the Senate expired.

The Senate had already been operating with only 20 of its 30 seats occupied because of previously missed elections, and lost its quorum after Jan. 12. The elections have been delayed by factors such as political feuding and lack of funding.

Every mayoral post in the country is up for grabs, as are neighborhood leadership positions.

 

(Editing by David Adams and Andrew Hay)

 

Click HERE for the original article.

Pretrial Detention and Corruption in Haiti’s Justice System

April 23, 2015 - 01:50

Haiti’s justice system struggles with corruption and prolonged pre-trial detention. This article tells the story of a young girl who was illegally put in prison, awaiting for almost a year for a murder she did not commit. In the end, she was released due to the persistence of her attorneys but many aren’t so lucky, especially if they’re poor. In order to truly fix Haiti’s justice system, the root causes of prolonged detentions need to be addressed and nonprofits dealing with the problem need to work with Haitians to solve it.

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

Haitian Teen Falls Into Trap of Dysfunctional Justice System

Mackenzie Rigg, Youth Today
April 23, 2015

When 13-year-old Camesuze Jean Pierre entered the iron gates of the Petionville women’s prison, she feared she would never get out.

Crammed into a tiny cell with a dozen other women and their belongings, she didn’t even have a bed her first night there. She lay down on the cold cement floor, curled up with two flimsy, tattered cotton sheets. The bathroom was a hole in the floor. And all she was given to eat each day were two meals of oatmeal and cornmeal. For days, she refused to eat anything at all.

“I cried, I cried a lot,” she said, recalling her first day there.

When her uncle, Jean Pierre St. Dieu, came to visit two days after she arrived at the prison, Camesuze was still crying. “I had to give her hope that we are trying to get her out of jail,” he said, “and that she wasn’t going to be there forever.”

The other prisoners, all grown women, in Cell Number 33 gave Camesuze, a lanky teenager, a bucket so she could clean herself; they braided her dark brown hair and scrounged for money so she could buy food she liked.

But there was nothing anyone could do to ease the crowding in what used to be police barracks. The prison has a maximum capacity of about 80, but at any given time it holds about 300 prisoners.

 

Click HERE for the full text.