Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

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New Haiti Documentary Released October 2014

October 16, 2014 - 21:01

Don’t miss this new documentary on the other side of Haiti.


A new documentary, “Lakay,” by Chicago-based Haitian-American filmmaker Tirf Alexius, which deals with the recovery of Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake, will get a nationwide theatrical release after it screens at the 9th Annual Harlem International Film Festival this month.

Told from a personal POV, and starring Alexius, along with his brother Remoh Romeo (who also produced the project with Alexius, along with Hugh Grady and Macdanne Edmond), the documentary chronicles what happened when the two brothers returned to Haiti to locate their loved ones after the earthquake. However, what they found is a story of courage and resilience by the survivors, as well as a new hope.


The film is getting a nationwide theatrical release starting on October 17th, when it opens in 2 suburban Chicago area theaters – the AMC Woodfield 20 Lowes theaters in Schaumburg, and the AMC Loews Country Club Hills 16.
Then on October 24th, the film opens in New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles, and in more cities the week after, on Oct. 31st.


Click HERE for more on the film, and to watch the trailer.

White House Avoids Haitian Family Reunification

October 15, 2014 - 16:10

Despite letters of support from many different organizations and bipartisan leaders, the Obama administration continues to ignore the need for a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRPP). This is particularly upsetting for Haitian Americans and advocates because a similar program for Cubans already exists and was recently renewed. President Obama’s broken promises on HFRPP will likely result in decreased voter turnout in next month’s elections.

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

Obama ignores Haitian family reunification

Steve Forester & Marleine Bastien, Miami Herald
October 15, 2014

President Obama plans to announce executive actions regarding immigration tailored to Hispanic needs, a key demographic. While that’s smart substantively and politically, his neglect of a key Haitian-American goal may lower voter turnout next month.

The president has so far ignored more than 80 significant calls since 2010 for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (FRPP), like a recently renewed Cuban program, disappointing Haitian Americans previously upset when related 2012 campaign promises weren’t met.

At risk are 109,000 beneficiaries on wait lists of up to 12 years in Haiti, despite DHS approvals of their family-based visa petitions. They’re legal by definition and will be coming eventually, assuming they survive such long waits in struggling Haiti.

The program would speed up the process, save lives, reunite families, serve our national security by creating new remittance support to thousands in need and generate substantial work-permit application fees to the U.S. Treasury. No one would get permanent status any earlier than under current law, and the program should cost little.

Only election night will tell if this will lower turnout among Haitian-American voters; conversely, firm signals that the White House will instruct DHS to create the program should significantly increase their enthusiasm and turnout on election day.


Click HERE for the full text.

MINUSTAH Mandate Renewed Until October 2015

October 15, 2014 - 08:21

On October 15, the UN Security Council renewed MINUSTAH’s mandate until 15 October 2015. The short animated timeline below marks the occasion for AJ+ (a new digital branch of Al Jazeera).

The UN in Haiti: Ten Years of Controversy

October 15, 2014

Update on Haiti Human Rights Call

October 14, 2014 - 10:24

Thank you so much to everyone who attended our October 9th call on human rights in Haiti. The call prominently featured 6 human rights groups, with about 10 joining the call in total, and was a great opportunity to hear how Haitian human rights defenders and the international community are working to improve the situation in Haiti. If you missed it, dial (712) 432-1219 and follow the instructions using Meeting ID 416-399-999 and Reference Number 3 to listen.* If you don’t speak French, here‘s an English summary. Special thanks to Patricia Pabst for summarizing the call, and to all the volunteers who worked against the clock to get the reports translated into French so they’d have maximum impact.

Look out for more opportunities like this here, on our Twitter page, and our Facebook page.


*If you can’t listen to the entire call at once, press 4 to rewind 1 minute, 5 to pause or resume playback, and 6 to fast forward 1 minute.

Duvalier’s Victims Are Still Seeking Justice

October 11, 2014 - 12:25

Besides the murders, forced disappearances, and violence that were rampant during Duvalier’s regime, the former dictator stole hundreds of millions from Haiti. This article uses the story of one man who sought reparations from Duvalier to demonstrate how victims of that brutal regime still want justice. Although Duvalier is dead, victims, their lawyers, and human rights advocates still plan to pursue his accomplices and finally give some closure to those who suffered.

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

Duvalier’s Passing Does Not Wipe Away Victims’ Misery

Vania Andre, The Haitian Times
October 11, 2014

Etzer Lalanne is not a man you’d expect should be nearly a millionaire. His large glasses hang over his small eyes, surrounded by bags and wrinkles – evidence of the hard long years of working as a cab driver in New York City.

More than 25 years ago, a Florida court awarded Lalanne – a Haitian refugee who was granted political asylum in the U.S. – $750,000 in a civil case against Jean Claude Duvalier, for the 10 months he spent as a political prisoner under the dictatorial regime in 1981.

Despite the victory, red tape and the crafty skills of lawyers and accountants prevented Lalanne, 62, from ever seeing a cent of his money. But, for the first time in more than 25 years, a dream that lay nearly dead for more than two decades, showed some signs of life with the passing of Duvalier on Oct. 3.

Even in death his wrongs have to be rectified, Lalanne said. His sentiments echoed that of thousands of Haitians who agree Duvalier’s passing does not wipe the slate clean for the stain he left in Haiti’s history. On Wednesday, reports surfaced the former dictator would not be receiving a state funeral on Saturday.

“After killing so many people, there’s no way you can honor that man with a state funeral,” Lalanne said. “There’s no way I could accept if he did.”

The former leader’s death reawakened questions of accountability and whether Lalanne, alongside thousands of others with grievances against the exiled despot, would finally be able to cash in their calls for justice.

“Lalanne has a legal right to revisit and pursue this case, the question is whether he has the practicality to do so,” said Brian Concannon, executive director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). “It’s a matter of whether he can find the money and resources to fight this case.”

The likelihood that there’s any money left is very small, said Ira Kurzban, a Florida-based attorney that represented Lalanne, Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste , a Miami activist who passed away in 2009, and the Haitian people in the 1986 case that sought $504 million in damages from Duvalier.

Duvalier had an army of lawyers and accountants to hide his money, Concannon said. He was very open about how he stole public money and “did a good job of hiding it.”

Several of people have cases similar to Lalanne’s all over Haiti, Concannon said. They have the right to pursue this, regardless of how many steps it takes.

“All we can do is keep pushing to get through the justice system and see if at the end of the journey there’s any money left.”


Click HERE for the full text and a clip from the Democracy Now video report.

UN Still Struggles to Raise Cholera Elimination Funds

October 11, 2014 - 07:10

Even after launching several “new” cholera elimination plans since the epidemic first began four years ago, the United Nations is still struggling to raise adequate funds for water and sanitation in Haiti. While donors hesitate to fund the plans for various reasons, some argue that the biggest is the lack of UN accountability for causing the epidemic in the first place. The UN itself has the capacity to fund the plan, if only it was prioritized effectively.

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

High-Level Donor Conference on Cholera in Haiti Fails to Secure Much Needed Funding

Jake Johnston, Common Dreams
October 11, 2014

Like a Matryoshka doll, inside each cholera elimination initiative for Haiti one will find another and inside that, yet another. At the two-year anniversary of the earthquake, in January 2012, organizations launched a “call to action” for the elimination of cholera. Almost a year later, in December 2012, the U.N. launched a “new” initiative designed to “support an existing campaign.” Then in February 2013, the Haitian government and international partners announced a 10-year elimination plan. When funding was slow to come, the U.N. and other partners began raising funds for a two-year emergency response. In March of 2014, another “high-level” committee was formed and then in July, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon traveled to Haiti to launch a “Total Sanitation” campaignwithin the “context” of the cholera elimination plan. Since that first announcement in 2012, 1,600 Haitians have died from cholera. Today, in a “high-level” donor conference sponsored by the World Bank, the Haitian government presented yet another plan.


“We have a plan, it’s a $310 million plan for three years,” Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told the crowded 13th floor conference room in the World Bank headquarters here in Washington, DC. Lamothe urged those in attendance to “take action” and “fast-track this process” in order to “protect the lives of millions of people” and “ensure the most vulnerable of the society are protected against water-borne diseases.” But the 2.5-hour conference ended up short on pledges and long on pleas, with only the event’s sponsor, the World Bank, contributing substantial funds.

“The UN has a binding international law obligation to install the water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to control the cholera epidemic, as well as compensate those injured,” said Brian Concannon of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, who is representing cholera victims in their case against the U.N. “MINUSTAH has spent far more than $2 billion since cholera broke out on other things. It is a question of priorities.”


Click HERE for the full text.

Update on Duvalier Prosecution

October 10, 2014 - 14:03

Now that Duvalier has died, what will happen to the case against him? How will victims of his regime find justice? It is important to remember that Duvalier did not carry out his crimes alone. His regime’s victims are insisting that the case continue against those who torturted, imprisoned, killed and stole, and we will be there to support their fight and prosecute Duvalier’s co-defendants. Now more than ever, we need to show current and future leaders that Haiti will not stand for impunity.

Find recent articles about Duvalier here.

Learn more about our work on the Duvalier prosecution here.

US Protection Helped Duvalier Escape Justice

October 10, 2014 - 07:49

One major factor that slowed the Duvalier prosecution was the United States’ refusal to help. The US has the ability to provide evidence and support that would’ve made a major difference in the trial but instead, and unlike past actions in Haiti and elsewhere, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to leave the prosecution to the Haitian government. Now, Duvalier has died a free man. The victims and their advocates still want justice and will continue by prosecuting Duvalier’s co-defendants. It’s just a shame that Duvalier, too, was not held accountable for his crimes.

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

From Cradle to Grave, the US Protected Jean-Claude Duvalier

Fran Quigley, Common Dreams
October 10, 2014

In February of 2013, I stood in a sweaty, overcrowded Port-au-Prince courtroom and watched as Jean-Claude Duvalier answered questions about hundreds of his political opponents being arrested, imprisoned, and killed during his tenure as Haiti’s “President for Life.”

Many of Duvalier’s rivals were held in the notorious three prisons known collectively as the “Triangle of Death”—Casernes Dessalines, Fort Dimanche, and the National Penitentiary. One political prisoner held in the Casernes Dessalines recalls being placed in a cell underneath the grounds of the National Palace, where Duvalier lived. The prisoner was led to an area so dark he could not see, but a guard’s torchlight revealed the man was locked in a room amid the skeletons of former prisoners.

At the court hearing I attended, Duvalier ducked responsibility, saying that the killing and oppression was done without his knowledge.

Then he walked out of that courtroom a free man, which is how he died earlier this month, at age 63.

On a previous visit to Haiti, I interviewed Raymond Davius, who still carries the physical and psychological scars from being imprisoned and tortured for daring to join a political party that opposed Duvalier. “The problem is not as much about Duvalier himself as it is what he represents,” Davius said. “If Haiti does not judge Duvalier, we have lost the opportunity to send a message to Haitian leaders who think they can kill whoever they want and steal whatever they want, and not be judged.”

Instead, the message after Duvalier’s death continues to be one of impunity in Haiti, if you are rich enough and powerful enough. From his cradle in the National Palace run by his despotic father to his grave, where the latest U.S.-backed Haitian president called for asalute to an “authentic son of Haiti,” Jean-Claude Duvalier enjoyed U.S. protection. I ended my column on the February, 2013 court hearing with this sentence: “The U.S.has enormous influence here, and most observers feel Duvalier will be held accountable for his crimes only if the U.S. speaks up.”

We didn’t, and he wasn’t.

Click HERE for the full text.

Interview avec Mario Joseph sur Duvalier et Martelly

October 9, 2014 - 13:09

Un grand interview avec Mario Joseph sur Duvalier et les droits humains en Haïti. Dans l’interview, il explique comment le gouvernement Martelly ne respecte pas les droits humains, pourquoi certains ont une “Duvalier nostalgie,” et plus.

Cliquez ICI pour lire l’interview complète.

«Le président Martelly tient tous les leviers du pouvoir»

Angélique Mounier-Kuhn, Le Temps
9 octobre 2014

Ce n’est qu’à sa sortie de l’avion qui l’amenait en Suisse, le week-end passé, que Mario Joseph a appris la mort de Jean-Claude Duvalier, l’ancien dictateur rentré en Haïti en 2011 après vingt-cinq ans d’exil. Considéré comme l’un des défenseurs des droits de l’homme haïtiens les plus influents, Mario Joseph est à Genève cette semaine à l’occasion de l’examen d’Haïti, ces jeudi et vendredi au Palais Wilson, par les 18 experts indépendants du Comité des droits de l’homme. Leurs conclusions seront publiées le 30 octobre prochain.


Cliquez ICI pour lire l’interview.

Public Call on Human Rights in Haiti (Français)

October 9, 2014 - 10:00

Join Mario and Nicole for a live public call from Geneva.

Joignez Mario et Nicole dans un conférence en direct de Genève. (français ci-dessous)


BAI Managing Attorney Mario Joseph and IJDH Staff Attorney Nicole Phillips are participating in Haiti’s historic review by the UN Human Rights Committee for their implementation of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Receive a live update on the prosecution of Jean-Claude Duvalier, overdue elections and Haitians’ right to vote, persecution of human rights defenders, and access to justice for gender-based violence claims. Other Haitian human rights defenders will also join the call. The call will be conducted in French, with an English summary released afterwards.


To join, dial 712 432-1212* and enter meeting ID 416-399-999


Thursday, October 9th at 7pm Geneva time (1pm EST)


*Long-distance charges may apply for international callers but a calling card will work as it’s a US phone number. Your country may also have a free conference call number available here.



Les avocats Mario Joseph (BAI) et Nicole Phillips (IJDH) participent à l’examen historique d’Haïti par le Comité des droits de l’homme pour leur mise en œuvre du Pacte international relatif aux droits civils et politiques (PIDCP). Recevez une mise à jour directe de l’ONU à Genève de la délégation de la société civile d’Haïti, qui incluent Maitre Mario JOSEPH du Bureau des Avocats International (BAI), Antonal MORTIME de la Plateforme des Organisations Haïtiennes des Droits Humains (POHDH), Viles ALIZAR du Réseau National des droits humaine (RNDDH), et Jocelyne Colas Noel de la Commission Episcopale Nationale Justice et Paix (CE-JILAP).  La délégation va parler sur six points que la préoccupe : l’impunité, l’indépendance du système judiciaires, les élections, les libertés publiques (expression, réunion et association), les LGBTs et la situation des femmes. L’appel se déroulera en français, avec un résumé en anglais publié après l’appel.


Composez 712 432-1212* et entrez code 416-399-999. Ou contactez par Skype « Nicole.M.Phillips ».


Jeudi 9 octobre, 7pm à genève (1pm ET)


Des frais peuvent s’appliquer pour les appels internationaux, mais une carte d’appel fonctionnera comme c’est un numéro de téléphone américain. Votre pays peut aussi avoir un numéro de conférence gratuit disponible ici.

Bertha Justice Institute Now Hiring

October 9, 2014 - 06:46

The Bertha Justice Institute (BJI) at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) needs a new Associate Program Director.

CCR  is a non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

CCR’s teaching and training arm, the BJI is dedicated to building the next generation of people’s lawyers through a range of programs including: post-graduate fellowships, internships, regional conferences, international exchanges, national training institutes and movement strategy sessions. The BJI is building a national and international network of legal workers, law students, lawyers, law professors, and activists that believe in using law to build the power of social movements. The BJI is also part of the global Bertha Justice Network which connects cutting-edge legal organizations across the world—in Haiti, Palestine, India, Colombia, the Philippines, South Africa and Europe—to train our respective next generations and build a global movement for justice

The Associate Program Director will be responsible for managing and executing all of the BJI’s programs with a particular focus on writing curriculum and designing/implementing trainings for lawyers and law students. This position is one that has a high-level of responsibility and offers an ambitious individual the opportunity to shape and build the vision of the BJI’s training programs and methods.

A J.D. is strongly preferred and 4 years of experience is required.

Applications are due by October 24, 2014. Please read the attached job description or click here for full details on the position and how to apply. Please forward widely and e-mail with any questions! For more information on the BJI visit:

Hearing Set For UN Cholera Case

October 9, 2014 - 06:00


Press Contact:

Shannon Jonsson, Legal Fellow, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti,, +1-617-652-0876

Kermshlise Picard, Communications Coordinator, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti,, +1-617-652-0876

PRESS ADVISORY: Hearing Set For UN Cholera Case

District Court to rule on UN claim to absolute immunity from justice

(New York, October 8, 2014)—Judge J. Paul Oetken has granted Plaintiffs’ request for an oral argument in Georges v. United Nations, 1:13-CV-7146, the ongoing case against the United Nations (UN), the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and former head of MINUSTAH Edmond Mulet, for recklessly introducing cholera to Haiti in 2010. Victims of the resulting epidemic filed the case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in October 2013. Judge Oetken has now ordered that counsel for the parties and amici curiae appear to present arguments on the Plaintiffs’ motion regarding service of process. The argument will address jurisdictional questions, including UN immunity. It will take place on October 23, 2014, and is open to media and the public.

What: Oral argument on the Plaintiffs’ motion regarding service of process in Georges v. United Nations.

When: Thursday, October 23, 2014, at 10:00 am.

Where: Courtroom 706, Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse, 40 Foley Square, New York, NY 10007.  Seating is on a first come, first served basis.

Attorneys for the Plaintiffs will be available for interviews immediately following the oral argument. Interviews will be available in English, French, Haitian Creole, Spanish, Korean, and Swedish.


The hearing follows several months of briefing on whether the Defendants have immunity from suit and service of process. Plaintiffs served summons on the Defendants earlier in the year, but the Defendants have not responded or appeared in the lawsuit. In March 2014, the U.S. Government filed a Statement of Interest asserting that the case should be dismissed because the Defendants have immunity from service and suit in domestic courts. Plaintiffs responded with an opposition brief, and 25 prominent international law and human rights experts—several with current or former affiliations at the UN—signed amicus briefs in support of the Plaintiffs’ position. Plaintiffs argue that the UN does not enjoy immunity in this case because its failure to establish an alternative process for adjudicating victims’ claims violates its treaty obligations and denies victims their fundamental right to a remedy.

The hearing, which is scheduled to take place on the day prior to UN Day, marks the first court proceeding in the case.

Speaking about the significance of the hearing, Brian Concannon, Jr. Esq., Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), stated, “The Court’s decision to schedule a hearing shows that it is taking a serious look at the UN’s international law obligation to provide victims justice, as a precondition for asserting immunity.”

All prior court briefings, including the initial complaint, are available here. In the last four years, over 8,500 people have died and more than 705,000 have been infected by cholera.



Victims Fear Duvalier’s Crimes Being Forgotten

October 9, 2014 - 02:40

Victims of the Duvalier regimes fear that the memory of the terror the two dictators inflicted is being lost. More than half the Haitian population wasn’t born when Jean Claude-Duvalier’s dictatorship ended in 1986 and it isn’t taught in schools, leaving the youth to learn about the Duvalier regimes through rumors. As the current administration is also Duvalier-friendly, victims fear that things in Haiti won’t change if the truth is forgotten.

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

Can Haiti keep alive memories of ‘Baby Doc’s’ brutal dictatorship? Victims and survivors of dictator Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier say they fear the truth behind his violent reign are being forgotten in Haiti, where half the population wasn’t even born by the time he was forced into exile.

Amy Bracken, Yahoo News
October 9, 2014

Bobby Duval is not mourning Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the former Haitian dictator who died of a heart attack last Saturday. Mr. Duval’s more inclined to grieve for the more than 180 people he says he saw perish during his eight months at Fort Dimanche – a notorious prison under the Duvalier dictatorship.

When Mr. Duvalier returned from exile in France three years ago, Duval testified against him, sharing memories of the 13-by-14 foot cell, crammed with dozens of naked men who were weak from disease, abuse, and near-starvation. Duval’s is among countless repugnant stories of a regime responsible for thousands of deaths, as well as torture, rape, and arbitrary incarceration in the 1970s and 1980s.

But for Duval and other victims, what’s even worse than remembering these atrocities is seeing the country forget.

“It’s not normal that students don’t know the history [of the Duvaliers],” he says. “They’re not critical. Everything is rumor. There are people who say Duvalier was very good, and when Jean-Claude returned to Haiti it was a lot of young people who greeted him.”

Jean-Claude Duval (no relation to Bobby) was still in his mother’s womb when his father was jailed in Fort Dimanche. His dad was kept there for four years, and, unlike Bobby, he never made it out. “It was a regime of terror I grew up in,” Mr. Duval says. “I was always afraid.”

Duval hopes to write a book about his family, which was also targeted under Francois Duvalier. “The thing I can do [to make a difference] is to teach people, because you have young people who don’t know what happened, who see Duvalier as just a president.”


Click HERE for the full text.

Potential Strides Towards a Cholera-Free Haiti

October 8, 2014 - 17:45

This month, Haiti’s cholera epidemic has the spotlight. Oral arguments have been granted for October 23, and October 9, a donor’s conference including Haitian Prime Minister Lamothe will attempt to raise funds for cholera eradication. We’re excited to see what comes of both.

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

Haiti’s sanitation needs to be focus of meeting in capitol

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
October 8, 2014

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Four years after cholera arrived in Haiti, the country still is trying to curb the epidemic, even as it sees significant drops in the numbers of people succumbing to the deadly waterborne disease.

Still, more than 30 people a day continue to get infected with cholera, a number that remains unacceptable, according to Haitians and other officials as they prepare for a major donor conference Thursday in Washington focused on bringing clean water and sanitation to the country.

“The fact that we have fewer cases and it’s not part of the major news cycle around the world gives the impression we have already had this progress,” said Pedro Medrano, the United Nations’ assistant secretary general charged with overseeing the cholera response in Haiti. “That is not the case.”

For months, Medrano has been meeting with donors, including those in the Latin American region, trying to get them to assist the United Nations and Haiti in making cholera a thing of the past by contributing toward a 10-year $2 billion plan launched by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012.

But the campaign has been struggling, with both Haiti and the United Nations facing difficulties in meeting the two-year goal of raising the initial $400 million.

Lawyers suing the U.N. in one of the cases are scheduled to give oral arguments later this month over whether the body has immunity from lawsuits.

The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti filed the lawsuit. Brian Concannon, the organization’s executive director, has long contended that the U.N. “recklessly” introduced cholera in Haiti 10 months after the country’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake.

He said the U.N. would have more credibility in attempting to raise money for cholera “by being honest and responsible about its role in causing the epidemic.”

While rights advocates are applauding the gathering in New York, they also are asking the government and donors to be more focused in their approach.

With nearly 60 percent of Haiti’s schools lacking toilets and more than three-quarters lacking access to water, for instance, Human Rights Watch said clean latrines and safe water for drinking and hand-washing at schools should be key on their list.


Click HERE for the full text.

Haitian Students Need Better Water and Sanitation

October 8, 2014 - 13:53

While education is a crucial part of a better future for Haiti, schools currently pose a major threat to students’ health. Most schools lack toilets or access to water, increasing children’s risk of contracting illnesses like cholera. As the October 9th conference–intended to increase financial commitments to water and sanitation–approaches, this is a key topic of discussion.

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

Haiti: Students Need Safe Water, Toilets

Human Rights Watch
October 8, 2014

(Washington, DC) – The World Bank, international donors, and the government of Haiti should include an emphasis on water and sanitation in schools at the October 9, 2014 donors’ conference, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to a vice president at the World Bank. The conference in Washington, DC, is intended to galvanize greater financial commitments for clean water and improved sanitation and health in Haiti.

Safe, clean latrines and water for drinking and hand-washing at schools are among the key areas donors need to address as they discuss combatting water-borne diseases like cholera in Haiti, Human Rights Watch said, based on its research in Haitian schools. Nearly 60 percent of Haiti’s schools  have no toilets and more than three-quarters lack access to water.

“The majority of children in Haiti attend schools in such poor condition that they risk contracting disease,” said Amanda Klasing, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “If donors at this conference are serious about improving health in Haiti, then they have to address kids’ right to attend schools that don’t make them sick.”

“Addressing Haiti’s water and sanitation needs requires a firm commitment to ensure that children don’t face a high risk of infection when they go to school,” Klasing said. “That includes making sure that kids have safe water and toilets at school.”


Click HERE for the full text.

How Duvalierism Persists Despite the Dictator’s Death

October 8, 2014 - 12:33

This article connects Duvalierism with many issues that are ongoing in Haiti, such as the lack of democratic elections and constant interference by foreign powers. It cites our work on prosecuting Duvalier, Fran Quigley’s book How Human Rights Can Build Haiti, and Haiti’s need for sovereignty.

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

The Tyrant Jean-Claude Duvalier Is Dead, but His Legacy Still Lives in UN-Occupied Haiti

Roger Annis, Truthout
October 8, 2014

Jean-Claude Duvalier, the tyrant who ruled Haiti from 1971 to 1986, has died in Haiti at the age of 63. His death provides a moment for political reflection by the Haitian people, especially in view of the reality that so much of Duvalier’s harsh political legacy remains alive and well in the island country.

A UN Security Council foreign military occupation has entered its 11th year. It serves to bolster much of the authoritarian Duvalier legacy, which has always, at its heart, been about excluding the Haitian people from governing their own country.

“President for Life”

Duvalier was appointed “president for life” in 1971 by his dying father, Francois Duvalier. Known as “Papa Doc” for the medical education he received in his early years, the elder Duvalier muscled his way into power in 1957 and established one of the most ruthless dictatorships the world had ever known. He was 64 when he died.

Son Duvalier was an upstart playboy with zero qualifications to govern when he began his rule. He was 19 years old. He carried forward his father’s legacy faithfully, becoming known as “Baby Doc.” The pillars of his rule were the same as his father’s, and included the ruthless, secret police called the Tontons Macoutes and their networks of domestic spies, prisons, torture chambers and dumping grounds for the thousands illegally assassinated.

The Duvalier case is documented on the website of one of the leading legal agencies involved, the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), and its partner office in Port au Prince, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux.

Brian Concannon, director of the IJDH, says the prosecution of Duvalier’s crimes should continue. “The case is as much about setting a precedent for protection of human rights as it is about securing a conviction of the man. Duvalier’s death is not a reason to stop the fight for justice for his victims,” he said.

A new book on Haiti has just been published and it is easily the best overview of the political, human rights and social challenges confronting the country in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake. It is authored by Fran Quigley, professor at the McKinney School of Law at Indiana University, and is titled, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti.

Quigley writes in the introduction that the pervasive state of poverty in Haiti and the extensive damage caused by the 2010 earthquake could have been avoided if Haiti’s leaders followed the country’s laws and were accountable to the people. What is uniquely important in the book is how it documents the role of the big foreign powers in preventing that course.

For the Haitian people, the struggle against foreign occupation and for national sovereignty is the path that will consign the Duvalier legacy to the dustbin once and for all.


Click HERE for the full text.

Cholera Hearing Could Mean Trouble for UN

October 8, 2014 - 09:16

The cholera hearing set for October 23, 2014 has a lot of implications, many of which can be bad for the UN if the decision is in the plaintiffs’ favor. The plaintiffs have a very good chance of winning because the UN has provided them no alternate mechanism for justice. The UN, though, is probably not ready for the consequences of a victory for the victims. Now more than ever, the UN should take responsibility for the cholera epidemic and be accountable for its actions.

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

Haitian cholera victims could soon bring the UN to court

Rosa Freedman, The Conversation
October 8, 2014

In October 2010, a cholera outbreak began in Haiti for the first time in more than 100 years. The strain that was brought into Haiti has been traced to a region in Nepal from which a UN peacekeeping contingent arrived days before the outbreak and it has been established that the United Nations failed adequately to screen its peacekeepers for the disease prior to them entering into Haiti.

Poor waste management at the UN peacekeepers’ camp resulted in infected human faeces being deposited in a tributary that feeds into Haiti’s main river. Within the first 30 days, Haitian authorities recorded almost 2,000 deaths from cholera. At its July 2011 peak, the epidemic was infecting one person every minute – and four years on, the country is still struggling to rid itself of the disease.

But on September 30, a New York judge gave cholera victims pursuing justice a new ray of hope, ordering oral submissions on whether the United Nations can be brought before the court. The hearing date is now set for October 23.

The cholera litigation has been brought by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), acting on behalf of thousands of claimants. The IJDH is mounting a significant challenge to UN immunity, and has submitted numerous amici briefs from international law scholars and practitioners in the US and in Europe.

Case law from various courts and jurisdictions shows that the UN’s absolute immunity has been challenged, albeit unsuccessfully, on the facts of a great many cases. The basis for those challenges has been that the UN’s legal immunity violates claimants’ rights to access a court and to a judicial remedy – and in all of the cases so far, the UN has argued that individuals’ ability to access alternative mechanisms for dispute resolution means their rights have been realised.

But the Haitian victims have no alternative mechanism through which to resolve their dispute. The scene is therefore set for the first successful challenge to the UN.

If the UN continues to ignore the rights of cholera victims, it may well find its absolute legal immunity blown out of the water. That will be a win for the cholera victims, but it also set a precedent for which the UN is not ready. We could soon start to see cases being brought against the UN in other jurisdictions.

It seems clear that the better alternative for everyone would be for the UN to accept responsibility for the cholera outbreak and to offer an alternative method of dispute resolution while that opportunity remains on the table. Otherwise, the UN’s peacekeeping operations around the world could soon find themselves under a level of scrutiny they have never before experienced.


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Can Duvalier’s Victims Get Justice Despite His Death?

October 8, 2014 - 08:12

While some, like Duvalier’s victims and BAI, are working on prosecuting Duvalier’s accomplices, some believe that even if Duvalier hadn’t died, the prosecution wouldn’t have succeeded. This segment features Brian Concannon, of the former camp, and former Haitian police director Pierre Denize, of the latter.

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

Haiti’s Crucial Question: Would Baby Doc Have Gone To Jail If He’d Lived Longer?

Tim Padgett, WLRN
October 8, 2014

As Haiti’s national police director from 1996 to 2002, Pierre Denize had a mission: to help the country’s fledgling democracy build a more professional and humane justice system.

Denize had seen too much of the polar opposite in his youth – especially when his parents were jailed, brutalized and exiled during the three-decade-long reign of cruelty and corruption known as the Duvalier dynasty.

“What [the Duvaliers] did to Haiti was absolutely horrendous,” says Denize, whose surgeon father was an early Duvalier health minister until he broke with the regime because of its brutality. “It was unacceptable. Inhumane.”

The dictatorship’s patriarch, François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, ruled from 1957 until his death in 1971. By the time Haitians tossed his feckless dictator son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, into exile in 1986, the family had allegedly robbed almost a billion dollars from the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. Their murderous militia, the Tonton Macoutes, allegedly killed more than 30,000 opponents.

So now – after Baby Doc Duvalier’s sudden death last Saturday in Port-au-Prince at age 63 from a heart attack brought on in part by a tarantula bite – Denize and the rest of Haitian Nation are asking:

If Baby Doc had lived longer, would the Haitian justice system have eventually convicted and jailed him for his alleged and epic crimes?

What may well have derailed the prosecution in the end, however, wasn’t law but politics. Current Haitian President Michel Martelly is an admitted Duvalier admirer – and his government had urged prosecutors to drop the Baby Doc cases.

But many Haiti experts believe the legal proceedings that were underway when Duvalier died set a positive precedent for Haiti. The focus now will be on prosecuting surviving Duvalier loyalists who allegedly took part in the crimes.

“Duvalierism was a system,” says Concannon. “Jean-Claude Duvalier was the head of it, but he’s not the only person involved. I’m hearing loud and clear from the victims in Haiti that they want to continue this fight.”

The buzz in recent days is that Baby Doc cheated justice by dying. But Denize, the reform-minded ex-police chief who is now retired in Miami, says Haiti doesn’t yet deserve that assumption – and won’t until it gets serious about creating a more credible justice system.

“My contention is that we don’t yet have a justice system,” says Denize. “The whole question of justice now has very little to do with Baby Doc and so much more to do with Haiti and Haitians.

“Haitians have cheated and continue to cheat themselves out of justice.”

And they can only hope now that they bury that problem along with Duvalier.


Click HERE for the full text and audio.

L’importance de continuer le procès Duvalier

October 7, 2014 - 16:56

De Genève étant, Maitre Mario Joseph explique pourquoi le procès de Duvalier devrait continuer malgré la mort de celui-ci. Joseph explique, aussi, la situation de droits humains en Haïti, notamment concernant les élections longtemps différées par le gouvernement Martelly.

“Un procès du régime Duvalier serait un remède à l’impunité”

7 octobre 2014

“Jean-Claude Duvalier ne sera pas jugé, son régime, oui”. L’avocat haïtien Mario Joseph s’est exprimé mardi à la RTS, en marge d’une réunion de la Commission des droits de l’Homme de l’ONU à Genève, qui se penche sur le cas d’Haïti.

L’homme de loi, qui représente des victimes des exactions commises sous la dictature de l’ex-président Duvalier décédé samedi, plébiscite “un procès de ses partisans, de sa femme, des membres de son gouvernement.”

“Remède à l’impunité”

Un tel procès permettrait de “donner un peu de mémoire à ceux qui n’ont pas connu les exactions du régime Duvalier”. “Il s’agit d’un remède à l’impunité”, estime Mario Joseph.

Selon l’avocat, l’impunité est un fléau dans le pays, où les droits de l’homme continuent d’être bafoués par les forces gouvernementales, mais aussi par des organisations internationales.

“Les trois pouvoirs ne sont toujours pas séparés, nous vivons un culte de la personnalité (du président haïtien Michel Martelly)”, dénonce Mario Joseph.


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Duvalier Regime Investigations Must Continue Despite His Death

October 7, 2014 - 09:42

Amnesty International insists that Duvalier’s death must not result in impunity for the crimes committed by his brutal regime. His collaborators must be prosecuted so that the victims can have justice. Amnesty also notes the disrespect for the victims evident in President Martelly’s statements about Duvalier and lack of will to prosecute him.

Part of the press release is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti: The truth must not die with Jean-Claude Duvalier

Amnesty International
October 7, 2014

The death of former Haitian ruler Jean-Claude Duvalier must not halt the investigations and prosecutions owed to thousands of people killed, tortured, arbitrarily arrested and disappeared under his regime, said Amnesty International today.

“The death of Jean-Claude Duvalier must not be used to brush away the crimes committed under his regime. An entire network of volunteer militia and state authorities are also suspected of perpetrating human rights violations under Duvalier’s command. These people too must be investigated and, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, prosecuted in fair trials,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

“This is not the final chapter in this horrific episode of Haiti’s recent history. Instead it should be a reminder that there are thousands of victims who still deserve justice, truth and reparation for the human rights violations they suffered.”

In response to news of the death, Haiti’s current President Michel Martelly has spoken of reconciliation and called Jean-Claude Duvalier a “true son of Haiti”. In the past, President Martelly has hinted in several public statements at pardoning the former leader. Despite being investigated for embezzlement charges, Jean-Claude Duvalier was issued with a diplomatic passport in 2013, and participated in several official ceremonies and events.

“Whereas President Martelly could have expressed compassion for the thousands of victims of Duvalierism and participated in forging memories about the crimes committed at that time, he willingly decided to express ‘sadness’ and ’sympathy’ only for Duvalier’s family. This is a slap on the face for human rights and the victims’ struggle to justice,” said Erika Guevara.


Click HERE for the full text.