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Food Aid Undermines Sustainable Nonprofit in Haiti

July 10, 2014 - 08:29

Medika mamba, a local product that can restore malnourished children to health, is made by a nonprofit that uses sustainable methods – like buying peanuts from local farmers – to affect systemic change in Haiti. Because of free and subsidized food aid from USAID, this nonprofit, Meds & Food for Kids, is having trouble staying afloat.

The west’s peanut butter bias chokes Haiti’s attempts to feed itself Local provider of food to tackle malnourishment faces closure because aid agencies buy subsidised products from abroad

Rashmee Roshan Lall, The Guardian
July 10, 2014

Haitian children are checked by health agents for signs of malnutrition. Photograph: MFK

Bedline is 17 months and weighs just 5.3kg. She lies feverish and quiet in her grandmother’s arms, eyes glazed, her pale blue nylon frock hanging off thin shoulders.

Nearly 30 toddlers and their carers are crammed into the airless room at a makeshift malnutrition clinic atop a hill in Bahon, northern Haiti. This is a sleepy town along the Grande Riviere, an extravagantly named river that is a mere summer trickle through the north of Haiti.

Barring the odd snuffle, the room is silent. These children are not up to the mischief common among toddlers. They wait, listlessly, to be weighed and fed medika mamba, Haitian Creole for peanut butter medicine.

Medika mamba is a local product, manufactured by the non-profit Meds & Food for Kids (MFK) to standards approved by the World Health Organisation and the UN children’s agency, Unicef. Internationally trademarked as Plumpy’Nut by the French company Nutriset, a 150-sachet carton can restore a severely malnourished child to health in six to 12 weeks. About 22% of under-fives in Haiti are chronically malnourished.

Soon, medika mamba will be rolled out in Guatemala and beyond through Unicef’s programmes for malnourished people. But Haiti’s newest export will not be the measure of success it sounds.

“The World Food Programme (WFP) rang in December and said they wouldn’t be buying anything from us for four years because they had a corn-soy blend from USAid – for free. That was half of our annual income gone. We nearly closed in June,” says American paediatrician Patricia Wolff who founded MFK 10 years ago to make a local malnourishment product that would feed children, as well as benefit farmers.

An official explains that the donation of US corn-soy blend was bought by WFP last year with emergency USAid funding in advance of Haiti’s generally calamitous hurricane season. But it was not needed and “in 2014 USAid approved a WFP request to use the already in-country corn-soy blend stock for their ongoing programme of treating malnutrition”, the official said.

No one seems to have pondered the local implications of the decision. The official said it was standard practice for unused goods from one programme to be transferred to another. But, as the experience of medika mamba demonstrates, it is a risky policy for Haitian workers – closing the factory would have cost 42 local jobs, and hundreds of Haitian peanut farmers would have lost a reliable buyer. Wolff lobbied heavily against the “market-distorting” effects of importing a therapeutic food when a local one exists.

In April, she won a year’s grace, landing the Unicef export order. The factory – built in 2012 with a $732,000 (£427,000) loan from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (Gain) and LGT Venture Philanthropy –stayed open. This year, MFK expects to buy 50 tonnes of peanuts from local farmers, nearly 50% more than in 2013.

Wolff believes that with assured international aid buyers for medika mamba, the factory could boost production year on year, creating economies of scale and a sustainable local loop of supply and demand. “Producing 550 metric tonnes makes us sustainable because it covers the cost of everything,” she says.

In theory, that is development economics at its best – saving lives while sustaining change in low-income countries. It will tackle acute child malnutrition, which rose from 5.1% in 2012 to 6.5% last year, according to the Haitian government. And it creates much-needed jobs in a country where unemployment hovers around 40%. It is also able to redouble ongoing efforts to improve peanut farmers’ productivity and post-harvest handling and storage.

In the longer-term, Gain, a foundation that supports public-private initiatives that address malnutrition, sees the rising global demand for Plumpy’Nut as an export opportunity for Haiti’s MFK.

But whether this optimism is borne out in Haiti is dependent on whether Unicef, or other agencies, renew their order. Wolff says she lives from month to month and order to order, having no idea whether the factory will still be open next year. The loan from Gain, repayable over seven years at 6.75% interest, will need to be repaid.

The 300 peanut farmers in the north of the country, who have been selling their produce to MFK, will also be adversely affected if the factory closes.

There is little disagreement about the inherent value of localism in tackling child malnourishment in Haiti, and the WFP in Haiti says local food purchase remains a priority. But a WFP official admits that this year its nutrition activities are taken up by USAid’s Kore Lavi food voucher programme, which means it can’t buy from MFK at present.

But the politics, perverse logic and lack of coordinated thinking on aid from the west means well-meaning international agencies sometimes prefer to feed countries like Haiti rather than give them the means to feed themselves. As a result, local ventures such as MFK are constantly at risk of being forced out of business.

None of which bodes well for children like Bedline, who will inherit this poisoned legacy.

 

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BAI and IJDH Seek UN Accountability for Cholera

July 9, 2014 - 12:57

This article describes the origin of the cholera epidemic the United Nations brought to Haiti in 2010, what has happened since, and what BAI/IJDH are doing to seek justice for the victims. The UN continues to be unaccountable for the actions that caused the epidemic, and also hasn’t raised enough money for improved water and sanitation in Haiti.

Attorneys in the Time of Cholera

Mary H. White, MD, JD Supra
July 9, 2014

This is the story of how lawyers are fighting the cholera epidemic in Haiti.

I am a physician with a subspecialty in infectious diseases. Since 2003, I have periodically travelled to Haiti to deliver basic medical care in underserved areas. I was also in Haiti two months after the earthquake that devastated the country and led to a quarter million deaths, reduced innumerable homes to rubble, abruptly terminated livelihoods and educations, and resulted in chronic disability for many.

In March, 2010, I worked at a field hospital about an hour outside of Port-au-Prince. Patients were assigned to each of about 50 large canvas tents, but each patient was accompanied by one or more family members, so conditions were crowded. The rainy season had not yet arrived, and it was hot, dry, and dusty. Many patients were immobilized by amputations or external hardware holding shattered bones in place.  These sweaty conditions contributed to an already substantial risk for bacterial wound infections.

I met people whose responses to the earthquake were not just related to their physical injuries: one man unashamedly declared he was abandoning his wife because of the new large scar on her face;  another man refused to go to a nearby clinic for removal of his infected metal rods until he was reassured that it was in a one-story building that was seismically-engineered; a pregnant woman receiving prenatal care for the first time learned she had HIV and she left the camp, abandoning her toddler to the category of “unaccompanied minor”; and someone stole a prosthetic foot.

In sum, the earthquake of January 12, 2010 left a population that was extremely vulnerable to many other traumas, besides the physical ones.  So, when cholera was first introduced into Haiti in October 2010, the bacteria laid siege to an undefended population.

Haiti had plenty of waterborne dysentery-like illnesses previously, but a case of cholera had not been seen in over 100 years. Since cholera’s introduction nearly four years ago, 700,000 people have developed the severe diarrheal illness, and at least 8,500 have died.

How did this happen? In mid-October, United Nations (“UN”) peacekeepers from Nepal arrived at their base camp situated on the banks of Haiti’s principle river system in the Artibonite Valley. Days later, several Haitians, who lived downstream from the UN base, were carried to local clinics with profound dehydration secondary to copious vomiting and continuous “rice water” diarrhea, the classic description of cholera. Over the ensuing weeks, Haiti’s already taxed and partially destroyed health care system was overrun with patients.

Epidemiological and microbiological studies as well as forensic molecular technology showed that Haiti’s cholera strain is identical to the strain that is endemic (or commonplace) and often asymptomatic  in Nepal. Associated Press and Al Jazeera reporters visiting the Nepalese base documented the UN workers dumping sewage where it flowed into the Artibonite River tributaries.

The UN’s own panel of independent experts has confirmed that the cholera outbreak coincided with the arrival of UN peacekeepers from Nepal, and that the strain of cholera present in Haiti is a perfect match with the strain in Nepal. The UN panel also reported that the Nepalese peacekeepers were not tested or treated for cholera prior to their deployment in Haiti, and that the sanitation piping on the base was cracked and haphazard. Finally, they confirmed the press reports that the base dumped their untreated human waste in open air pits that overflowed into the river when it rained.

Enter the United States-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (“IJDH”) and its Haitian partner, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (“BAI”), who together recognized the fundamental responsibility for this medical disaster lay with the UN. Both IJDH and BAI are small non-profit organizations made up of human rights attorneys. In Haiti, they have advocated for women who were victims of sexual assault and helped them face their perpetrators in court; they have also been instrumental in bringing Jean-Claude Duvalier (“Baby Doc”) to court for the brutalities committed during his regime as Haiti’s president during the 1970s and 1980s.

Now IJDH and the BAI are holding the UN accountable for the cholera epidemic and are suing for restitution. In November 2011, cholera victims, represented by the BAI, sought to invoke the settlement procedures that the UN had agreed to in international treaties, namely, that they agreed to provide out-of-court settlement mechanisms to victims of UN wrongdoing. The BAI submitted claims to the UN in a petition asking for: 1) a public acknowledgement of responsibility from the UN; 2) just compensation for the victims; and 3) installation of water and sanitation infrastructure needed to combat the ongoing epidemic.

The UN did not respond until February 2013 when it dismissed the claims as “not receivable,” because “consideration of these claims would necessarily include a review of policy or politics.” The UN refused to engage in mediation or discussion. Since there is no appeals process, Haitian cholera victims had no access to a mechanism that would result in justice.

As a result of the UN’s refusal to abide by the legal requirements of its own agreements, cholera victims filed a class-action suit against the UN in the Southern District of New York in October 2013. The case is pending, and the question of UN immunity is currently being briefed for the judge.

Cholera remains a very real threat to public health in Haiti, and the UN itself has warned that up to 2,000 people could die from the disease in 2014. This is because Haiti has a chronically inadequate water and sanitation infrastructure that is perpetuating the infection. Major rivers are used by the Haitian people for many daily purposes: drinking and cooking water, bathing and washing clothes. These open water systems continue to be contaminated by absent or flawed methods of handling human waste. The vicious cholera cycle will continue as long as this condition persists.

By the UN’s own definitions, the cholera epidemic in Haiti is a humanitarian crisis. But independent of the legal situation, the UN has not responded adequately to this crisis; to date, the UN has provided only 1% of the funding needed and repurposed another 9% from earthquake donations to install the water and sanitation infrastructure needed to control the epidemic. Sadly, some experts believe that cholera is now entrenched in and may never be eradicated entirely from Haiti.

From the medical perspective, cholera treatment clinics were set up across the country. Haitians have been educated about the symptoms and where to go—quickly—for treatment. Shipments of antibiotics, intravenous fluids, oral rehydration solutions, protective gloves and gowns continue, and a moderately effective cholera vaccine has been distributed to portions of the population. But none of this will stem the epidemic as long as water and sanitation are not secure. In addition, 75% of the cholera treatment clinics are now closed.

So, Haitians must now wait to learn if IJDH and BAI can control the cholera epidemic with legal argument, asking the UN to be accountable for the neglect and lack of appropriate supervision over health and sanitation practices that led to this humanitarian and health crisis.

Disclosures: Mary White is a supporter of IJDH and is a member of its Advisory Board. She was assisted in the writing of the legal details in this post by Brian Concannon, Executive Director of IJDH.

 

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International Community Backs Unconstitutional Elections in Haiti

July 9, 2014 - 07:45

Despite the unconstitutional nature of the Electoral Council appointed by President Martelly, and Martell’y unilateral actions in planning elections, the international community has promised funding for the elections and continues to rush the process along. Please join us in urging these organizations not to back elections unless they are fair, inclusive and democratic.

Despite Flawed Electoral Process, International Community Support Continues Unabated

Center for Economic and Policy Research
July 9, 2014

While Haitian President Michel Martelly has unilaterally scheduled long-delayed elections for October 26, 2014, the composition of the electoral council continues to cause controversy in Haiti. The current problems stem from the deeply flawed electoral process in 2010 that saw Martelly emerge victorious after the intervention of the international community. There have yet to be elections since then, with one-third of the 30 member Senate having their terms expire in 2011 while some 130 local mayors have been replaced by Martelly appointments. Another one-third of the Senate and the entire lower house will see their terms expire in January 2015 if elections are not held. In a “frequently asked questions” document released last week, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) provides a legal analysis of the reasons behind the delays and why the current electoral council is unconstitutional. In an accompanying press release, IJDH notes:

According to Mario Joseph, managing lawyer for the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, “Prompt elections are much needed, but elections will only remedy Haiti’s political crisis if they are run fairly by a constitutionally-mandated electoral council. President Michel Martelly has delayed elections for three years because he does not want to lose the political control he has enjoyed without full parliamentary oversight.”

Joseph explains that “The current Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) put into place by President Martelly per the El Rancho Accord is unconstitutional.” The El Rancho Accord, which rules the government’s plan for elections, has not been approved by Parliament and the procedure for selecting a CEP conflicts with the Haitian Constitution. The CEP only has seven of the required nine members due to these legitimacy concerns. Parliamentarians and political opposition call the El Rancho Accord a political coup d’état.
Despite the problems associated with the “El Rancho Accord,” the international community has been supportive of the process. After praising the accord in March, the U.N. issued a statement in early May, co-signed with the “Friends of Haiti” grouping of countries, warning “that certain important decisions to advance toward the holding of the elections have yet to be made.” Days later Martelly announced the formation of the electoral council, unilaterally. In early June, the date of October 26 was announced by the government, even though the electoral body is tasked with scheduling elections. Last week, after meeting with Martelly, the Secretary General of the OAS committed “to back the holding of free and fair elections, in a process planned for October.” The OAS also said they would send an electoral observation mission.
The international community is also providing the lion’s share of the funds for the election. IJDH, for its part, has called on the U.S. and other members of the international community to “support rule of law and democracy by conditioning election funding on a lawful and independent electoral council that can run fair and inclusive elections.” Haiti’s last several elections have been criticized for not being inclusive, as several political parties – including the most popular, Fanmi Lavalas – have been arbitrarily kept off the ballot under various pretexts.

The U.S. has pledged $10 million toward the elections, but a review of contract spending shows that a significant portion of this has already been allocated and spent in coordination with a previous electoral body that no longer exists. In April of 2013, USAID awarded $2.3 million to the International Federation of Electoral Systems (IFES) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for “electoral process support.” In April 2014, the award was raised to $3.4 million. An IFES press release from October 2013, well before elections had been scheduled, notes that the organization had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Transitional College of the Permanent Electoral Council (CTCEP) to provide technical assistance. The CTCEP has since been replaced by the electoral body that emerged from the controversial “El Rancho Accord.” Repeated requests for comment to clarify IFES’s support have yet to be answered.

Additionally, a USAID factsheet reports that $6.5 million will go toward “pre-election planning and capacity building for the” CTCEP. Those funds are part of a multi-donor project run by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Previously called “Support to Electoral Process in Haiti: 2012-2013”, the only recent update to the project’s webpage has been to change to dates to “2013-2014.” Overall, the UNDP project will have a budget of $32 million and had already spent over a $1 million as of October 2013. It remains unclear if the donors – the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the EU – have already deposited their contributions with the UNDP.

 

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Importance of Expert Testimony in Rape Cases

July 8, 2014 - 11:55

New Media Advocacy Project writes about their excitement about their latest video, Advancing Justice Through Expert Testimony in Haiti. This video and post explain the importance of expert testimony not just in Haiti but anywhere, particularly in cases of rape. Haitian courts don’t currently use expert testimony enough but increased use of expert testimony will help ensure justice for rape victims and improve the system.

Expert Witnesses: Advancing Justice for Women in Haitian Courts

Abby Goldberg, New Media Advocacy Project
July 8, 2014

It is with great enthusiasm that N-Map launches our newest film: Advancing Justice Through Expert Testimony in Haiti.

(Pou kreyol, tanpri klike isi)

In November 2013, our partners—the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) —invited us to Haiti to produce a film that advocates for the greater use of expert witnesses in Haitian courts. The film is primarily intended for Haitian judges, prosecutors and lawyers yet the message remains universal: expert testimony is vital for all criminal trials—especially in the case of rape.

Judges are not doctors; nor are they forensic psychologists or ballistic experts. Yet they issue rulings on cases built upon evidence from these fields. Consequently, many courts call on experts to help judges understand the specificities of a case or to help lawyers best substantiate their case according to relevant scientific evidence. In Haiti, however, there is little use of expert witnesses in criminal trials. Without guidance, judges cannot provide informed decisions for the complainant or the accused. And this absence of expertise delivers only partial justice.

While it is important for Haitian courts to employ expert witnesses in all criminal trials, this need is ever more urgent for cases of sexual violence. Last summer, judges dismissed numerous sexual assault cases because female victims exhibited common symptoms of trauma: failing to remember some details of the crime or inconsistently recounting their testimony. Modern psychiatric literature recognizes this behavior as common among rape victims who experience trauma. Yet judges are not familiar with the behavioral patterns of post-rape trauma and leverage inconsistent testimony as evidence that a crime did not occur. In these cases, the Haitian justice system—in addition to the defendant—wronged the victim.

 

The need for medical expertise also highlights the importance of expert testimony in rape cases. In a case profiled in the film, a complainant under the age of 10 was seeking justice for her rape, but judges believed inaccurately that any child of that age would have not yet been sexually active and thus, would have bled from a broken hymen when raped. The gynecologist explained to the court that although most children do bleed in cases of rape, there are exceptions. She was able to tell the judges during trial that the fact that the child did not bleed is not evidence that she had not been raped. She successfully convinced the judges, who otherwise may have ruled differently, that rape can occur without blood loss in such cases.

In a more recent case, a woman who worked as a housekeeper was brutally raped in the home of her employer. When she brought the case to court, a prosecutor and later an appeals court chamber ruled that because she did not flee the situation, and since escape was possible, it proved the sexual activity consensual. It was not. Again, it is common for women to stay with their accusers due to trauma and fear. An expert helps judges understand this phenomenon, and by extension, helps rape victims find justice.

N-Map and our partners at BAI will distribute this video throughout the summer to judges and prosecutors as trials resume after a several month hiatus. Our goal is twofold: first, to convince judicial actors of the importance of expert testimony and second, to show that expert testimony is effectively employed by peers and easy to implement. Additionally, several women’s rights groups–such as our partners at KOFAVIV–requested to incorporate the video into their training. We plan to work with the Haitian Bar Association to include the video in the required curriculum for all new lawyers in Haiti as well.

The capacity of this video to advocate for expert testimony beyond Haitian courts leaves me with great hope. It also fully reaffirms my belief that expert testimony proves a prerequisite for true justice and thankfully I am not alone.

“There is a lot of injustice done at this level,” explains Carlos Hercule, President of the Haitian Bar Association. “And to solve this problem the [courts] must use scientific expertise and proof.” Many of the judges and prosecutors I interviewed agreed with Carlos. In fact, during our week of production in Haiti, I met few dissenters. Yet surprisingly, the two interviewees who expressed resistance to the incorporation of expert witness testimony into Haitian courts were the experts themselves: a gynecologist and a psychologist. Feeling confused; I asked why. Both replied with the same concern: the more time spent in court testifying on behalf of victims translates to less time in practice—offering medical or psychological services desperately needed by Haiti’s under-served population.

Those unexpected answers certainly sparked new thinking about the potential for video to alleviate the cost and the human-resource burden of expert testimony—not only in Haiti but in other under-resourced justice systems as well. Even here in the United States the expense of expert witnesses favors well-funded law firms. For public defenders—like Brooklyn Defender Service—the expense of experts proves prohibitively costly and expert testimony often favorably affects the outcome of cases. This begs the question: even with the ubiquitous use of expert testimony, what advantages come to those who can afford it?

So can video or new media ensure that marginalized complainants, and for that matter defendants, have equal access to expert witnesses? Well that’s a topic for another post…

 

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Frequently Asked Questions Released About Haiti’s Upcoming Elections

July 8, 2014 - 06:40

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Mario Joseph, Av., Managing Attorney, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), Mario@ijdh.org, +011 509 2943 2106/07 (in Haiti, speaks French and Creole)

Nicole Phillips, Esq., Staff Attorney, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), Nicole@ijdh.org, +1 510 715 2855 (in U.S., speaks English and French)

“Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) Released about Haiti’s Upcoming Elections

(PORT-AU-PRINCE, July 8, 2014)— The Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) released last week a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) briefing about the significant legal challenges facing Haiti’s upcoming elections, scheduled for October 26, 2014. Elections are long overdue; one-third of the seats in the Senate and all local mayors termed out in 2012. Another one-third of the Senate and all 99 members of the lower house will expire in early 2015 without elections this year.

According to Mario Joseph, managing lawyer for the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, “Prompt elections are much needed, but elections will only remedy Haiti’s political crisis if they are run fairly by a constitutionally-mandated electoral council.  President Michel Martelly has delayed elections for three years because he does not want to lose the political control he has enjoyed without full parliamentary oversight.”

Joseph explains that “The current Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) put into place by President Martelly per the El Rancho Accord is unconstitutional.” The El Rancho Accord, which rules the government’s plan for elections, has not been approved by Parliament and the procedure for selecting a CEP conflicts with the Haitian Constitution. The CEP only has seven of the required nine members due to these legitimacy concerns. Parliamentarians and political opposition call the El Rancho Accord a political coup d’état.

Adding to the political volatility, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s former political party plans to enter candidates in the upcoming elections, and his lawyer, appointed to the CEP by President Martelly, is the CEP’s president. Duvalier faces criminal charges for murder, disappearances and torture under his regime.

Nicole Phillips, Staff Attorney with the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) warns that “these elections must not repeat the errors of the last. Illegitimate elections in 2010, contaminated by a corrupt electoral council, illegal exclusion of political parties, ballot-stuffing, and an arbitrary recount by the Organization of American States, set Haiti on its way to its current political crisis.” Phillips recommends that “international support for prompt elections in Haiti strengthen rule of law and democracy by conditioning elections funding on a lawful and independent electoral council that can run fair and inclusive elections.”

The FAQs is available here.

 

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Haiti Needs Sustainable Alternatives to IDP Camps

July 4, 2014 - 09:29

After spending a week in Haiti, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Internally Displaced Persons has reported that the steps taken to empty Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Haiti aren’t sufficient. IDPs and other vulnerable people need sustainable housing solutions, not just rent subsidies, and they should be included in the electoral process as well.

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Haiti: Time to push for development to achieve durable solutions for the internally displaced and the vulnerable

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
July 4, 2014

PORT-AU-PRINCE (4 July 2014) – Four years after the earthquake, it is time to move from a largely humanitarian approach to a development base drive, United Nations independent expert Chaloka Beyani has said today, while calling for durable solutions for the internally displaced and the vulnerable segments of the population in Haiti.

“It is high time to focus on a development approach for the achievement of durable solutions for the displaced,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the end of his first mission Haiti. “Durable solutions are reached only when the needs related to displacement no longer exist, which is medium to long term complex development led process for all IDPs and not just those living in camps or sites.”

“The closure of IDP camps by itself does not mean that durable solutions for them have been found.” Mr. Beyani stressed. “Although the number of those displaced has decreased from 1.5 million after the earthquake to the rough official number of 100,000 today, much more needs to be done.”

In order to achieve that, the expert recommended carrying out a needs assessment to know the durable solutions requirements of different categories of all IDPs, verify the location of those who live outside of camps, and a survey of their intent to know which durable solutions would work for them on the basis of consultation and participation.

“The achievement of durable solutions requires development opportunities in the country as a whole, rule of law and a comprehensive housing policy that also targets IDPs,” the Special Rapporteur highlighted.

“The rental subsidy policy which aims to help IDPs leave camps and find a place to rent in the neighbourhoods is a transitional measure to decongest the camps,” he said. “In order to be sustainable, this policy must be linked to livelihoods and income-generating activities and benefit the entire community where IDPs are settled, including through enhanced access to basic services.”

Mr. Beyani welcomed the creation of sectorial platforms and inter-ministerial committees to coordinate development activities, but cautioned that these measures should also be taken to ensure that sectorial policies in all key areas such as water, sanitation, health, education, employment and agriculture extend to IDPs as well.

“Humanitarian support should continue in the remaining camps or sites to address the dire living conditions of some of the IDPs and to respond to their basic needs, particularly water and sanitation, which are critical to public health,” he said. “I call for special protection for IDPs to continue into the development phase, especially for women and children.”

The Government of Haiti, the Special Rapporteur emphasized, has the primary responsibility to work towards development based approaches to durable solutions for IDPs and the vulnerable population at large, “which will enable the integration of IDPs in urban and rural neighbourhoods where they can resume their normal lives as citizens of Haiti, without discrimination on account of their situation.”

Such primary responsibility includes putting relevant policies, effective coordination of structures and mechanisms for achieving solutions, for instance resolution of issues affecting access to land and property, housing, justice, including for women.

“The current election registration exercise should also include IDPs as equal citizens to ensure they can vote and participate in the public life of the country,” Mr. Beyani noted.

During his one-week visit, the Special Rapporteur met with the Counsellor of the President, the Minister of Justice, the Delegate-Minister for Human Rights and the Fight against Extreme Poverty, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Human Rights, the Director of the Civil Protection Department, the UCLBP and DINEPA.

He also met with the UN Humanitarian and Country teams and representatives of the civil society. His programme included visits to IDP camps and sites as well as the Canaan neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince.

Chaloka Beyani, professor of international law at the London School of Economics, was appointed Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2010. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/IDPersonsIndex.aspx

 

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Norwegian Law School Uses Cholera Exam Question

July 3, 2014 - 06:22

Another addition to the movement for justice for Haiti’s cholera victims, a Norwegian law school featured an exam question on cholera last year. Students were given background on the epidemic and our case against the United Nations and asked to hypothetically advise the UN on their responsibility for cholera, legal consequences for waiving immunity, seeking reimbursement from Nepal, and establishing a standing claims commission. Part of the question is below.

Click HERE for the full version.

25 november 2013

JUS5540 – Public International Law
The language of examination for this course is English: students may answer in English ONLY, answers in any other language than English will be given a F (F for fail).

Please read the fact pattern and answer the questions referring to your readings, case law, normative instruments, and Annex. The Annex is composed of 1) The International Law Commission Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organization, 2) UN Resolution 52/247 on Third Party Liability, and 3) the UN Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (1946). Good luck!

Three years ago, the United Nations assigned peacekeepers from Nepal to form a United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Haiti experienced a terrible earthquake and ten months later a cholera outbreak devastated the nation. Investigations led to the discovery that the Nepalese peacekeeper mission had a faulty sanitation system. This led to the contamination of a tributary that flows into Haiti’s largest river, the Artibonite (which is used by Haitians for washing and bathing). The contamination consisted of an Asian strain of bacteria which caused a severe cholera epidemic in Haiti. It is estimated that 8,300 Haitians died and over 650,000 became sick. It is expected that cholera will continue to kill ca. 1,000 Haitians per year. In response, Haiti and the Dominican Republic established the Initiative for the Elimination of Cholera in the Island of Hispaniola. The overall effort is estimated to require $2.2 billion over 10 years. The U.N. system provided $141.5 million toward this initiative as of December 2012, including $23.5 million from the U.N. itself.

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A Constitutional Electoral Council is Imperative for Haiti’s Upcoming Elections

July 3, 2014 - 05:45

July 3, 2014

Haitian President Michel Martelly issued a decree on June 10, 2014, setting parliamentary and local elections for October 26, 2014. Prompt elections are much needed in Haiti—one-third of the seats in Parliament and all local mayors have already termed out–but elections will only remedy Haiti’s political crisis if they are run fairly by a lawfully mandated electoral council.  The current Provisional Electoral Council is highly contested with serious and well-founded concerns about its legitimacy, calling into question whether it can run fair and inclusive elections.

The following “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) provide a legal analysis of the proposed plan for elections in Haiti, including the El Rancho Accord, the new electoral law and Provisional Electoral Council.

What is at stake in these elections?

Elections in Haiti are long overdue. Elections for all local offices and one-third of the Senate seats, whose terms expired in 2011, have still not been held. [i]

  • Without timely elections, the Senate has struggled to obtain a quorum since 2012, when one-third of its 30 seats expired (per Article 102 of the Haitian Constitution, Parliament may not make decisions or pass resolutions without a majority of each of the two houses being present[ii]).
  • The terms of some 130 local mayors also expired in 2012. Those seats have been filled by “municipal agents,” who were appointed by President Martelly.
  • The terms of another one-third of the Senate and all 99 members of the House of Deputies will expire in early 2015 without elections this year.

 

Why has it taken so long to plan elections?

Elections have been delayed for many reasons, but the principal roadblock has been the lack of an electoral council to start the election process. According to parliamentarians, political opposition and human rights groups, President Martelly has stalled elections since he came into office by facilitating unlawful electoral council appointments and creating political stalemates.

A set of 2010 constitutional amendments provided for a new selection process for a Permanent Electoral Council, which would be selected from three branches of government (executive, legislative and judiciary). The amendments were controversial because members of Parliament stated that the amendments that were published differed from those adopted in session.[iii] Amidst pressure from the U.S. and other governments, President Martelly formally adopted the contested amendments in 2012.

Many of the Permanent Electoral Council appointments in 2012 were fraught with controversy. One council member was forced to resign following a rape accusation by his employee.[iv]  According to members of Parliament, the judicial branch’s selections are not independent because President Martelly illegally named three Supreme Court justices (one was over the maximum age and the other two were not selected from the official lists submitted by the Senate as required by Article 175 of the Constitution), including the Chief Justice Anel Alexis Joseph, in 2012. His appointments allowed President Martelly to influence the nomination of the new judicial council, which is headed by Justice Joseph, and which named the council’s judicial members. Moreover, without one-third of the Senate, the legislature had difficulty appointing their three members. As a result the permanent council was nonfunctional and unable to hold elections.

To remedy the electoral council crisis, President Martelly appointed a bicameral commission in October 2012, the Collège Transitoire du Conseil Électoral Permanent (CTCEP), charged with passing a new electoral law.[v] The CTCEP submitted a proposed electoral law to a Presidential commission July 1, 2013. A presidential commission submitted the proposed law to the House of Deputies days before its last session of the year, leaving very little time for the House to approve the law. While the Prime Minister declared that the electoral law was adopted, House members say there was never an affirming vote.[vi]  The Senate never approved the electoral law, resulting in another political stalemate at the end of 2013.

Parliamentarians argue that President Martelly’s administration has benefitted from the lack of elections; President Martelly has operated without the standard checks and balances of power such as parliamentary oversight. He also has control over the 130 mayors he appointed. Executive control over the electoral council will also favor President Martelly’s political party.

 

What is the El Rancho Accord?

A series of “inter-Haitian dialogues,” led by the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Haiti, Cardinal Chibly Langlois, political parties, parliamentarians, and members of civil society took place in January and February 2014, to discuss a plan for elections. Many of the dialogue participants signed the dialogue’s outcome document, the El Rancho Accord (“the Accord”) on March 14, 2014. The Senate has not signed or approved the Accord.[vii]

The El Rancho Accord sets October 26, 2014 as Election Day for two-thirds of the Senate, the House of Deputies and local elections, and proposes a Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to be appointed by the three branches of government. The Accord also provides for the approval of amendments to the 2013 electoral law by the executive branch, both chambers of Parliament, the CEP and political parties.

 

Why have some members of the Haitian Senate refused to approve the El Rancho Accord and disapprove of the proposed Provisional Electoral Council (CEP)?

Many parliamentarians, including six of the 20 sitting senators (called the G6) oppose the El Rancho Accord on constitutional grounds.[viii]  The Accord has not been approved by both houses of Parliament and any provision that conflicts with the Haitian Constitution is invalid (Under Article 282 of the Constitution, the Constitution can only be amended by two-thirds of each of the two Houses in Parliament).[ix]

The El Rancho manner of appointing councilors to the CEP conflicts with the manner in the Constitution. The El Rancho CEP is appointed from the three branches of government, whereas the Constitutional CEP is designated from nine different sectors of society (Executive Branch, Episcopal Conference, Advisory Council, Supreme Court, human rights; Council of the University, journalist associations; Protestant religions, and National Council of Cooperatives).[x] Every election since the Constitution was enacted in 1987 has been run by a provisional council named by different sectors.

Parliamentarians also object to Article 12 of the Accord, which provides that if both branches of Parliament do not approve amendments to the electoral law within 10 days of signature of the agreement, the law is automatically on hold and the CEP is allowed to override the lack of approval and move forward with elections.[xi] Given that the term of one-third of the Senate expired, the Senate claims that Article 12 is a loophole to evade Parliamentarian approval.

President Martelly appears to have invoked Article 12 on June 10, 2014, when he signed a presidential decree setting the elections for October 26, and confirming a CEP with only seven of the nine required members.[xii] Opposition leaders call the Accord an electoral coup d’état.

 

What is the composition of the current El Rancho Provisional Electoral Council?

The El Rancho CEP currently has only seven of the required nine members: two members from the legislative branch, two members from the judicial branch, and three members from the executive branch. Two of the nine members, Leopold Berlanger (judicial branch) and Nehemy Joseph (legislative branch) have refused to be sworn in because of concerns about the process for selecting councilors.  In order to accommodate these concerns on June 11, 2014, the judicial council voted 5-2 to replace one of its other members. Although Chief Justice Joseph participated in this vote, after President Martelly objected, Justice Joseph annulled the vote the following day.

The CEP generated additional controversy by selecting Frizto Canton as President. Canton, a lawyer for former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, was nominated to the council by the executive.[xiii]

 

How are political parties being excluded in the electoral process?

Coalitions of political parties have issued public statements denouncing the El Rancho Accord, claiming exclusion from the electoral process and demanding a provisional electoral council that is independent and selected pursuant to the Constitution. They claim that the exclusion started during the El Rancho dialogue. Several parties that observed or participated in the El Rancho talks walked out to protest that parties not aligned with the current government were being ignored.[xiv]

On June 16, 2014, CEP President Fritzo Canton announced June 25, 2014 as the registration deadline for political parties.[xv] The deadline provides an impossible dilemma for political parties. Either they register with an electoral council whose appointment violates the Constitution and is controlled by the executive branch, indicating prospects for unfair elections, or they boycott the registration to pressure the government to appoint a lawful and independent body, risking exclusion.

 

Will the Duvalier political party enter the upcoming elections?

The old political party founded under the Duvalier dictatorship (“National Unity Party”), says it plans to enter candidates in the upcoming elections. Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who faces criminal charges for murder, disappearances and torture under his regime, attended the party’s ceremony when it announced that its candidates would run “at all levels” in the legislative and local elections.[xvi]  President Martelly has presented Duvalier at public events as an elder statesman and has renewed Duvalier’s diplomatic passport.[xvii]

 

What can the international community do to support fair and timely elections in Haiti?

Progress in earthquake reconstruction, stabilizing Haiti’s democracy and ending poverty will only be possible if the upcoming elections in Haiti are prompt, fair and inclusive. Unfortunately the upcoming elections are on the road to further undermining Haiti’s democracy rather than stabilizing it.

These elections must not repeat the errors of the last.[xviii] Illegitimate elections in 2010, contaminated by a corrupt electoral council, illegal exclusion of political parties,[xix] ballot-stuffing[xx] and an arbitrary recount by the Organization of American States,[xxi] set Haiti on its way to its current political crisis. A month before the 2010 elections, 45 members of the U.S. Congress, most of them Democrats, warned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that supporting flawed elections “will come back to haunt the international community” by generating unrest and threatening the implementation of earthquake reconstruction projects. The U.S. government funded the elections anyway to the tune of $15 million.

The U.S. can support rule of law and democracy by conditioning election funding on a lawful and independent electoral council that can run fair and inclusive elections.

Haitian voters have tried to communicate their opposition to illegitimate elections in many ways: boycotting the 2009, 2010 and 2011 votes, demonstrating in the streets, and rejecting the elections in the press and in political meetings. They will keep trying until they find a way to make their government, and the international community, listen.


[i] Haiti must break political impasse to achieve progress, UN envoy tells Security Council, UN News Centre (Mar. 2, 2013), http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44435.

[ii] Haitian Constitution of 1987, Article 102.

[iii] Charlie Hinton, Haiti’s Constitutional Horror Show, Counterpunch, October 5, 2012, http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/10/05/haitis-constitutional-horror-show/.

[iv] Id.

[v] Haiti- Elections : Swearing in, installation, and élection of members of the Bureau of CTCP, HaitiLibre.com, April 30, 2013, http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-8385-haiti-elections-swearing-in-installation-and-election-of-members-of-the-bureau-of-ctcep.html. See also To rebuild Haiti, Restoring Democracy is a Must, Bloomberg, April 7, 2013, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-07/to-rebuild-haiti-restoring-democracy-is-a-must.html.

[vi] Robenson Geffrard, Le vote des députés jette la confusion, Le Nouvelliste, September 11, 2013, http://lenouvelliste.com/article4.php?newsid=121186.

[vii] Haïti – Politique : Le « Core Group » salue l’accord inter-haitien (texte intégral de l’accord), HaitiLibre (Mar 21, 2014), http://www.haitilibre.com/article-10763-haiti-politique-le-core-group-salue-l-accord-inter-haitien-texte-integral-de-l-accord.html.

[viii] Haiti – Politic : The dialogue between the Executive and the Senate ends in failure, HaitiLibre (Jun. 5, 2014), http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-11302-haiti-politic-the-dialogue-between-the-executive-and-the-senate-ends-in-failure.html.

[ix] Haitian Constitution of 1987, Article 282.

[x] Haitian Constitution of 1987, Article 289.

[xi] Haïti – Politique : Le « Core Group » salue l’accord inter-haitien (texte intégral de l’accord), HaitiLibre (Mar 21, 2014), http://www.haitilibre.com/article-10763-haiti-politique-le-core-group-salue-l-accord-inter-haitien-texte-integral-de-l-accord.html.

[xii] Haiti- Elections: The opposition parties denounced the decision of President Martelly, Haiti Libre (Jun. 12, 2014), http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-11358-haiti-elections-the-opposition-parties-denounced-the-decision-of-president-martelly.html.

[xiii] Martelly Appoints Duvalier Lawyer to Oversee Elections, Center for Economic and Policy Research (May 6, 2014), http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/relief-and-reconstruction-watch/martelly-appoints-duvalier-lawyer-to-oversee-elections.

[xiv] Fanmi Lavalas, Fusion, Inite et d’autres partis réclament la formation d’un nouveau CEP, Le Nouvelliste (May 14, 2014), http://lenouvelliste.com/lenouvelliste/article/130943/Fanmi-Lavalas-Fusion-Inite-et-dautres-partis-reclament-la-formation-dun-nouveau-CEP.html.

[xv] Haiti – Notice : Registration of political parties and candidates for BED and BEC, last deadline, HaitiLibre (Jun. 18, 2014), http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-11397-haiti-notice-registration-of-political-parties-and-candidates-for-bed-and-bec-last-deadline.html.

[xvi] Evens Sanon and Trenton Daniel, Old Duvalier party plans to run in Haiti election, The Associated Press (Apr. 24, 2014), http://news.yahoo.com/old-duvalier-party-plans-run-haiti-election-173735217.html.

[xvii] Randal C. Archibold, Haitian Dictator May Be Charged with Human Rights Crimes, Court Says, The New York Times (Feb. 20, 2014), http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/21/world/americas/haitian-dictator-may-be-charged-with-human-rights-crimes-court-says.html.

[xviii] Brian Concannon, Jr., Haiti’s Flawed Elections: They Told Us So, Boston Haitian Reporter (Nov. 2, 2010), http://www.bostonhaitian.com/node/253.

[xix] Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Haiti’s November 28 Elections: Trying to Legitimize the Illegitimate (Nov. 22, 2010), http://www.ijdh.org/haiti’s-november-28-elections-trying-to-legitimize-the-illegitimate-ijdh/#.UjoNJBb_5Rc.

[xx] Jason Beaubien, Weary, And Wary, Haitians Prepare For Elections, NPR (Oct. 7, 2010), http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130402973; see also Elections that Do Not Reflect the Will of the People, http://www.ijdh.org/on-the-violation-of-voting-right-in-haiti-elections-that-do-not-reflect-the-will-of-the-people-bureau-des-avocats-internationaux-canada-haiti-action-network-transafrica-forum-louisiana-justice-in/#.Ujje3dJQGuJ.

[xxi] Dan Beeton and Georgianne Nienaber, Haiti’s Doctored Elections, Seen from the Inside: An Interview with Ricardo Seitenfus, Dissent Magazine (Feb. 24, 2014), http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/haitis-doctored-elections-seen-from-the-inside-an-interview-with-ricardo-seitenfus.

Click HERE for a pdf version.

Relocation for Haitian Rape Survivors

July 1, 2014 - 09:00

This is the story of Lovely, a Haitian rape survivor who was relocated, along with her family, to Canada. Relocation can be a crucial part of healing for rape survivors, through distance from the crime, financial support and even psychiatric support for those who need it. Still, there is a long way to go as resettlement is a long process, the requirements are  stringent, and the women often struggle to become self-sufficient.

Haitian rape survivors begin new lives in Canada and the US Resettlement programs offer an escape from violence and time to heal

Lisa Armstrong, Al Jazeera America
July 1, 2014

MONTREAL — There are no Haitians in the Montreal neighborhood where Lovely lives. “There are mostly whites. It’s very rare to find a black person, let alone a Haitian,” she says.

In the 11 months since Lovely left Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to live in Montreal, she hasn’t made friends at school; she is still learning to speak French, and for many reasons she prefers to stick to herself, she said. There are people she misses in Haiti — her grandmother, her school friends — but she does not miss the place. She much prefers living among the “blans,” the whites, than her own people. “I know Haiti is my home, but I do not miss it at all,” she says. “I feel safer where I am now.”

Lovely was raped in February 2011, when she was just 13. In addition to the trauma of being raped, she suffered the stigma that came with it, because there was proof of the rape in the form of a baby. Like thousands of other Haitians who were displaced after the January 2010 earthquake, she was living in a tent with her family in a camp for internally displaced people. The camps were unsafe — cloth and tarp structures did nothing to keep armed gangs out — and since the earthquake, hundreds of women and girls have been raped.

As part of a program run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in conjunction with lawyers, Haitian grass-roots organizations and other NGOs, some rape survivors have been relocated to Canada, where they have been granted permanent residence. Lawyers have also successfully petitioned for some women to relocate to the U.S. on humanitarian parole, which, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is “used sparingly to bring someone who is otherwise inadmissible into the United States for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency.”

As of the end of 2013, the UNHCR had relocated 40 rape survivors and their dependents to Canada — a total of 145 people. The women were selected in part because of the level of trauma they suffered — some were minors, others had been gang-raped or raped more than once — and applications focused on their need for psychological treatment. Lawyers working on the applications selected the most dire cases.

“Many of the women we interviewed had classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder — constantly anxious and unsettled, hypervigilant and on alert beyond a reasonable level, poor, limited sleep with graphic nightmares throughout,” said psychiatrist Dr. Daryn Reicherter, who evaluated rape survivors and consulted with lawyers working on the women’s applications, in an email. “The women we interviewed continued to live in deplorable conditions with a constant threat of violence and/or rape.”

Some, like Lovely, had taken legal action against their perpetrators and were therefore in danger of retaliatory attacks. “We’re talking about people that … are taking serious risks for their life and the lives of their families,” says Corinne Raess, a former associate protection officer at the UNHCR for Haiti. “They could be stigmatized and have no future in their own country.”

The largest camp for Haitian earthquake refugees, in Port-au-Prince in 2010. More than 212,000 people were believed killed in the quake, which left an additional 3 million injured or homeless. John Moore / Getty Images

After their house was destroyed during the earthquake, Lovely, her mother, her sister and one of her brothers settled in a camp in Lalue, a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. Her older brother, John, also lived in the camp in a separate tent. Lovely’s mother warned her not to visit him because he was physically and verbally abusive. Still, she went so she could watch telenovelas on his TV.

One day, while Lovely was in John’s tent, he tied a piece of cloth over her mouth and raped her. She did not tell her mother because, she recalls, “he told me, ‘If you dare tell anyone what I just did to you, I have a sharp machete and I will take you to the woods and cut you into pieces.’”

Lovely’s mother eventually noticed that she had not had her period for some time and suspected she was pregnant. She asked Lovely if she had a boyfriend, and she said no. Her mother beat her because she said Lovely was lying. When, finally, Lovely told her mother that her brother had raped her, her mother continued to beat her.

“My mom said no. Even if I thought I was going to die, I had to speak up,” Lovely recalls. “I felt a lot of pain and shame. I said to myself, ‘He didn’t kill me, so I will kill myself because what happened is a shame and people will badmouth us.’ I made a big pot of bleach, then I put it away so I could drink it later and kill myself.”

When Lovely returned for the bleach, she found that her mother had used it to wash some clothes. Her mother never went to the police to report the rape but bought pills that would induce an abortion. “I took the pills,” Lovely says, “but the child would not come out.”

It was Lovely’s older sister who took her to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, where they reported the rape. Lovely was referred to the Commission of Women Victims for Victims (Komisyon Fanm Viktim pou Viktim, or KOFAVIV), a grass-roots women’s organization founded by and for rape survivors. A KOFAVIV agent took Lovely to the hospital for a medical exam and helped her file the necessary paperwork with the police so that John could be arrested. KOFAVIV also referred Lovely’s case to human rights lawyers at Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, who worked to ensure that John was arrested and prosecuted.

When John learned that Lovely had gone to the police, he threatened to kill her. “I overheard one of his friends say that my brother said that it’s only because he has no money — otherwise he’d buy a gallon of gasoline and come burn us down in the tent,” Lovely recalls.

In June 2011, KOFAVIV moved Lovely, her mother and her sister to a safe house. That month, John was arrested. Lovely was still living in the safe house when she gave birth in October 2011. The baby was a constant reminder of the rape, so Lovely wanted little to do with her. Because Lovely did not have money to buy food, the child was malnourished; she was a solemn baby, her hair was sparse, and her skin pockmarked from mosquito bites. Lovely was happiest when she was away from the little girl.

“Once I go to school, I’m at ultimate peace because that way I can’t see the baby,” she says. She never considered leaving her daughter in an orphanage because, she says, “when she grows up, you never know. Maybe she might be the only one God gives. Maybe she might be the one who will take me out of my misery.”

Though John was in prison, Lovely says that she still did not feel safe because she was afraid his friends would follow through on his threats to harm her. “If he is convicted, the case will still be on with his friends, because they are threatening me,” she says. “The best would be if I could go to another country so everything would be over.”

KOFAVIV has been working with the UNHCR to resettle some of its clients, and in July 2013, Lovely got her wish and, along with eight family members, moved to Canada.

The road to resettlement is a long one. Most of the women do not have passports, and some do not even have birth certificates, which means that the UNHCR has to assist in getting them. “In remote areas, it means maybe two days to access by car, and it takes time. There may be no registration office. There may be no records,” says Raess.

The women who were resettled in Canada had to meet strict criteria. “The beneficiary had to be an IDP [internally displaced person] who was raped after the quake and met other vulnerability factors (e.g., medical issues, disability, elder, orphans and vulnerable children, widows). If they were raped post-quake but were not an IDP, they did not qualify,” writes lawyer Jayne Fleming, who runs safe houses in Haiti and had 13 women granted permanent residence in Canada.

Even when the women get to Canada, however, they face challenges. “Immigration to a new area or new country has its own risks for the stress of acculturation,” Reicherter explains, “but these risks are minor compared to a constant risk or retraumatization by repeated gang rape.”

The women receive some financial and other support after they relocate but still struggle to become self-sufficient. “They’re not literate and have no skill sets that are transferable to employment here,” Fleming says. “They’re also traumatized and have a difficult time adjusting to the move from deep poverty to circumstances that are very comfortable, especially when they left so many of their family and friends behind in circumstances of deprivation.”

Though the women were selected for the relocation program precisely because of their need for psychological care, many women do not want to attend therapy. “Everyone knew they were coming for medical care, psychosocial and psychiatric support, but none of my clients wanted to pursue ongoing therapy, as it is stigmatized in Haiti,” says Fleming. “It’s also opening doors to dark histories that they would rather keep closed. The idea is, ‘I’m no longer in Haiti, I am moving on.’”

Lovely says she is simply tired of having to tell her story — to the police, to lawyers, to therapists. “Everything that happened [in Haiti], I would just like to forget,” she says.

The women who went to the U.S. faced an additional challenge, since applicants for humanitarian parole must have sponsors who will agree to provide housing and support them and their families financially. They were allowed to stay in the U.S. for only a year and had to apply for asylum if they wanted to remain in the country permanently.

In order to be granted asylum, applicants need to show that they have been persecuted because of their race, religion or membership in a particular social group. Fleming has three clients who have been granted asylum in the U.S. “We argued the clients were raped because they were Haitian women living in extreme poverty and the Haitian government would not protect them. Thus they were persecuted on account of their membership in a particular social group and met the refugee definition,” she explains.

Lovely says it is this fear of persecution that will prevent her from ever returning to Haiti, even to visit. She says matter-of-factly, “I was happy — not super-excited, jumping up and down — when I found out we were going to Canada. It was hard to be excited because I still had my mind on John, always wondering if he would find a way out of prison to hurt me and my family.”

She and her family live in a house paid for by a Canadian agency, and she receives free psychological counseling. Through working with a psychologist, Lovely says, her relationship with her daughter, who is now 2, is better. “Still, I will never forget what she represents,” she says.

 

Click HERE for the original.

CGRS Hiring Associate Director/Senior Staff Attorney

July 1, 2014 - 08:31

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at University of California Hastings College of the Law needs an Associate Director/Senior Staff Attorney. This is a full-time position with benefits and salary is commensurate with experience. The deadline is July 11, 2014.

Click HERE for more info.

Selebrasyon!

June 28, 2014 - 18:00

Celebrate Haiti at New York City’s 1.5-month-long festival.

WHAT: 

Selebrasyon! will be the first of its kind in New York. This festival will bring Haitian, Caribbean, and wider New York communities together to experience Haitian film, dance, music, literary and visual art in venues across the city!

Beginning on Haitian Flag Day on May 18th during Haitian Heritage Month, and running until the end of June which is Caribbean-American Heritage Month, this festival will present events hosted in collaboration with different organizations, institutions and artists.

WHERE: 

New York City
(locations vary)

WHEN: 

Opening Night                           May 17, 2014 7-11pm
Haitian Flag Day Selebrasyon!    May 18, 2014 noon-6pm
Konpa Nite                               June 6, 2014 6pm-midnight
& many more events through June 30, 2014

 

Click HERE for more information on Selebrasyon!
Click HERE for information on & dates of each event.

Forcing Aid Organizations to Respect Human Rights

June 27, 2014 - 09:37

This article discusses the difficulty of getting justice from aid organizations even when they have clearly violated human rights, as in the Haiti cholera case. The author argues that litigation, whether the verdict is in favor of the plaintiffs or not, can draw enough negative attention and pressure aid organizations to act more carefully. While some argue that this is biting the hand that feeds you, they neglect to consider that aid organizations can fail to respect human rights like any other group.

A Good Reason to Bite the Hand That Feeds

Pooja Bhatia, Ozy
June 27, 2014

Why you should care
Recent lawsuits against aid agencies could yield a fairer and more humane international development system.

Maybe it’s not impossible to sue an aid agency, but it’s damn difficult. Sometimes it requires a stakeout.

Outside Manhattan’s Asia Society last week, process servers lay in wait. Their quarry: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the evening’s speaker. Cars with diplomatic plates rolled up. Ban emerged. According to lawyer Stanley Alpert, one of the process servers joined a crowd of well-wishers, moved to shake Ban’s hand, and — bam! — instead served him a complaint by Haitian cholera victims against a U.N. peacekeeping force. The U.N. maintains that a security guard interceded and slapped the papers away before they touched Ban. Alpert maintains Ban got served.

Massive, well-publicized and terribly embarrassing for aid agencies, such lawsuits could change behavior — even if unsuccessful.

And the odd tableau reveals one of the great ironies of foreign aid: the very institutions that stand for rule of law, human rights and betterment of mankind are generally immune from courtrooms — even when they screw up mightily, as seems the case in Haiti.

The vast weight of scientific evidence indicates that in October 2010, United Nations peacekeepers inadvertently contaminated a major river with the cholera bacteria. Since then, some 8,500 Haitians have died from cholera, according to the latest figures from the country’s health ministry, with more than 700,000 infected out of a population of just 10 million. At least three lawsuits on their behalf have been filed against the U.N.

Massive, well-publicized and terribly embarrassing for aid agencies, such lawsuits could change behavior. Even if ultimately unsuccessful, they could force more circumspection and influence the course of development down the road, making it hew better to human rights principles, observers say.

SOURCE: ARIE KIEVIT/HOLLANDSE HOOGTE/REDUX

In March, an Ethiopian farmer, a  “Mr. O,” filed suit against Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID). Mr. O alleges that the British government supported an Ethiopian “villagisation” scheme that was supposed to settle 1.5 million people near roads and schools, but ended up forcibly displacing them, sending them to a refugee camp and selling their land to foreign investors. DFID has long been one of Ethiopia’s donors; it’s slated to spend some $600 million on the country in FY 2014-15. Mr. O’s lawyers seek a declaration that DFID violated its human rights policies and that it should investigate, publicize the investigation and ensure that DFID isn’t involved in repression.

The suits are different — one alleges direct negligence, the other support for a repressive regime — but both will likely face an immunity challenge. The United Nations, most donors and NGOs enjoy some immunity for activities judged to be within the scope of their mission.

For the supposed beneficiaries of foreign aid, there’s little to do when aid horribly messes up.

But is polluting a river with a deadly bacteria an integral part of a peacekeeping mission? We would think not, but the U.S. government seems to think otherwise. In March, the Department of Justice intervened in the Haiti cholera case, arguing for a wide scope of immunity. It’s unlikely that the Southern District of New York, where the first suit was filed, will go forward.

To be sure, immunity is not the sole reason few lawsuits are launched against aid agencies. “Litigation can be very lengthy — drawn-out, uncertain and above all costly,” says Natalie Bridgeman Fields, Executive Director of Accountability Counsel, which helps people harmed by big development projects. Her firm works outside court, typically through agencies’ internal dispute-resolution mechanisms. Accountability Counsel’s cases, which include labor violations cases in World Bank-funded projects and hydroelectric dam displacements, can be resolved in a year, rather than a decade, she says. “The [internal complaint] system is set up to not require lawyers — you could fill out a complaint on a napkin, and that’s the entry cost,” she says.

SOURCE: DUBBELMAN GUUS/REDUX

Critics of aid lawsuits sometimes liken such actions to biting the hand that feeds you. What right do beneficiaries of first-world largesse have to criticize? Such critics seem to have a hard time wrapping their heads around the notion that aid could do harm.

It can and sometimes does. For the supposed beneficiaries of foreign aid, there’s little to do when aid horribly messes up — when it, say, relocates refugees to a toxic dump site, or when it contaminates waterways, or when it supports a repressive government that tortures its citizens. There’s no one to sue, there’s no one to vote out of office and there’s rarely even a complaints hotline.

The Haiti and Ethiopia cases may change that. The time, cost and — perhaps most of all — negative publicity that accompanies such suits can affect day-to-day policy at big institutions. Right now, international financial institutions, like the World Bank and IMF, don’t merely argue they’re immune from lawsuits, but act like it, too, says Bridgeman Fields. “They don’t even like to use the words ‘human rights.’ To the extent there’s progress on the legal front, that could translate into due diligence and better compliance,” she says.

In England, at least, the public seems more watchful about which regimes their tax dollars are supporting. In London, one hot topic at this month’s summit on ending sexual violence in conflict was whether DFID is underwriting human rights abuses by security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo. DFID has disbursed some $85 million of a pledged $102 million to the DRC’s security forces.

Satisfaction might elude plaintiffs but maybe future recipients will thank them.
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Penn Ignores Key Points About Haiti in WSJ

June 25, 2014 - 08:00

If people don’t know the facts about Haiti, there is no accountability and progress cannot be made. A recent article by Sean Penn in the Wall Street Journal provided a very optimistic view that was unfortunately inaccurate and left out some key points. The article below highlights some of those inaccuracies and the actual situation in Haiti–economically, in housing and in elections.

Sean Penn’s ‘Corner’ in Haiti: Don’t believe the hype

Haiti Information Project
June 25, 2014

There are regular demonstrations in Haiti demanding the resignation of President Martelly, protests against the leveling of homes in downtown Port au Prince, protests against the confiscation of lands on the island of Île à Vache for tourism projects, protests demanding new national elections, protests against the high cost of living and yet more protests on the horizon. 

Police fired tear gas at protesters and live ammunition into the air during demonstrations on June 10, 2014

Despite this rising tide of protests, the messages most Americans hear about Haiti are filtered through the voices of celebrity experts like Sean Penn who recently denied anything is wrong and pronounced the small Caribbean nation has finally “turned a corner.”  In a recent tome published June 18 in Newsweek magazine Sean Penn wrote, “Haiti’s economy is among the fastest-growing in the Caribbean, as the government continues to make economic development a priority.”

At first glance, one might think Penn is correct for crowing about the handling of Haiti’s economy by his pals in the Martelly government given a recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) press release. On May 30 the IMF proclaimed, “Preliminary data for the first half of the fiscal year 2014 (i.e. October 2013 – March 2014) suggest that economic activity (as measured by gross domestic product, GDP), has advanced in line with projections, at a pace of about 3 – 4 percent. Inflation remained low, and it is projected to be in the mid-single digits by the end of the fiscal year (i.e. September 2014).”

A closer examination of historical statistics on theWorld Bank’s website shows that Haiti’s annual GDP growth was actually at 5.6% when Martelly came to power through highly controversial elections in 2011. GDP growth in Haiti then dropped to 2.8% in 2012, rose to 4.3% in 2013 and is currently calculated at 3.6% for 2014 by the World Bank. Even if we take the IMF’s higher estimate of 4% GDP for 2014, that would mean that Haiti’s annual GDP actually shrank by 1.2% since Martelly assumed office. And while inflation may have dropped from 8.4% in 2011 to 5.9% in 2013, the World Bank’s official assessment of the overall economic condition in Haiti is far less rosy, “Over half of its population of 10 million lives on less than US$1 per day, and approximately 80% live on less than US$2 per day. It is also one of the most unequal countries, with a Gini coefficient of 0.59 as of 2001.” Although arguably outdated, this last admission of income inequality has remained demonstrably true for as long as Haitians alive today can remember. It is perhaps the reality of the Gini coefficient that exposes Penn’s blind spot, namely that Haiti’s national economy still remains hostage to the dictates of a powerful wealthy elite. Given this, it appears Sean Penn’s description of Haiti’s current economic juncture as “turning a corner” is an exercise in hyperbole. This is especially true in the context of the billions of dollars in international development aid pumped into Haiti’s economy under the mantle of earthquake relief since Martelly became president.

While citing roads being paved and homes built, rebuilt and retrofitted since the earthquake is all well and good, Penn also offered this statement to demonstrate his bullish view of Haiti’s progress, “Crime rates have dropped, and in May 2011, one political party transferred power to another peacefully after an election for the first time in modern history.” Penn’s assertion that crime rates have dropped is not borne out by any available data as made clear by this Haiti 2014 Crime and Safety Report offered by the US Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security which states, “Reliable crime statistics are difficult to come by; Haitian National Police (HNP) numbers indicating a modest drop in crime during 2012 were undercut by those from other security entities operating in-country that continued to show a steady rise since 2010. A comparative analysis of figures from various police/security entities operating throughout Haiti reflects a continuation of the trend in which incidents of crimes are inaccurately or under-reported. Haiti’s perennially weak judiciary exacerbates an already unsteady security environment.”

Penn’s other assertion that Martelly’s election in 2011 represented a peaceful democratic transition appears an absurd attempt to rewrite history. The violence preceding and following the first round of the November 2010 presidential elections in Haiti is well documented. In fact, it is equally documented that most of the violence was perpetrated by the supporters of Michel Martelly after it was announced by the electoral council that Jude Celistine and Mirlande Manigat would face each other in a second round of balloting. This violence led to an infamous intervention in Haiti’s election process by the Organization of American States (OAS), backed by the US, to overturn the results. The legitimacy of the election was already in question as “nearly three-quarters of the electorate didn’t vote…” according to Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). The abysmal participation in both rounds of the presidential elections that brought Martelly to power was the result of the banning of Haiti’s most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas.

Based on what the OAS called a “re-tabulation”, Martelly went on to the second round that also saw its share of documented violence and intimidation. Weisbrot described the outcome resulting from, “The OAS’ actions in taking the unprecedented step of overturning an election, without a recount or evidence for its action…” Judging by the thousands of demonstrators who regularly take to the streets calling for Martelly’s resignation only to be consistently dismissed by Sean Penn, it wasn’t just the credibility of the OAS that was lost in this process.

Penn and Michel Martelly in Haiti

Finally, Sean Penn has done much to transform Haiti into a cause celebre through his own intervention including his acceptance to act as an Ambassador-at-large for the Martelly government. Blurring the line between humanitarian and political operative, he has married his reputation to that of Martelly and the success of the regime. This has arguably colored his interpretation and judgment of what “turning a corner” really looks like in Haiti. This seems more obvious when we take an accounting of the facts he chooses to ignore and the social forces he regular dismisses in Haiti as unworthy of equal billing when compared to his own relatively short-lived experience there.

 

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Advancing Justice Through Expert Testimony

June 24, 2014 - 10:13

Expert testimony, which can often be vital in cases like rape, is underused in Haiti. This excellent video explains the importance of expert testimony through interviews with judges, lawyers, prosecutors, grassroots activists, and a rape survivor herself. (English and Kreyol versions below.)

New Media Advocacy Project
June 24, 2014

Advancing Justice Through Expert Testimony – English Subtitles from New Media Advocacy Project on Vimeo.

Avanse Jistis Atravè Temwayaj Ekspè from New Media Advocacy Project on Vimeo.

 

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Klike ISIT pou orijinal la.

Six partis politiques s’opposent élections inconstitutionnelles de Martelly

June 24, 2014 - 06:38

Depuis des mois, les élections en Haïti ont été à l’arrêt en raison de désaccords entre Martelly et le Sénat. Dimanche, six partis politiques ont publié une déclaration expliquant leur désapprobation et le caractère inconstitutionnel des actions de Martelly.

Haïti – Politique : L’opposition préoccupée par les manœuvres de l’Exécutif…

HaitiLibre
June 24, 2014
Dans un communiqué conjoint daté du 22 juin, les partis et regroupements de partis politiques de l’opposition démocratique et de la résistance patriotique, notamment Fanmi Lavalas, Inite, Fusion et le « Mouvement Patriotique de l’Opposition Démocratique » (MOPOD), se disent préoccupés par les manœuvres du pouvoir dans le traitement du dossier électoral, lesquelles menacent le bon fonctionnement des institutions démocratiques et la stabilité politique du pays.

« Face à la crise politique créée par la mauvaise gouvernance qui a pour conséquence un déficit croissant de légitimité de l’administration Martelly/Lamothe soutenue par une fraction de la communauté internationale ;

Préoccupés par les manœuvres du pouvoir dans le traitement du dossier électoral, lesquelles menacent le bon fonctionnement des institutions démocratiques et la stabilité politique du pays ;

Convaincus de la nécessité pour les démocrates haïtiens d’utiliser tous les moyens pacifiques afin de contrecarrer le projet antidémocratique du pouvoir en place ;

Ont décidé d’unir leur voix pour :

  • Réaffirmer leur attachement aux valeurs de la démocratie et de l’État de droit ;
  • Confirmer leur volonté de participer à des élections libres, honnêtes, démocratiques et souveraines pour le renouvellement des élus tant au niveau national que local, comme moyen de garantir une stabilité politique durable dans le pays ;
  • Dénoncer les manœuvres déloyales du pouvoir exécutif qui cherche par tous les moyens à renforcer sa main mise sur l’appareil électoral et la machine administrative ;
  • Rejeter la politique de violation systématique de la constitution et des lois et ne pas accepter de telles violation comme un fait accompli indiscutable et irréversible ;
  • Démasquer les menées du Conseil Électoral Provisoire illégal et inconstitutionnel de 7 membres qui, sans attendre la fin du processus de constitution de l’institution et le vote des amendements indispensables de la loi électorale, tente de mettre en place un appareil électoral au service du pouvoir ;
  • Dire à la nation toute entière qu’ils n’entendent pas accepter et de fait n’acceptent aucun ultimatum ni aucune date butoir de la part de ce soi-disant Conseil Électoral Provisoire ;
  • Rappeler que la loi électorale du 27 novembre 2013 comporte plusieurs dispositions qui ne permettent pas de l’utiliser sans amendement pour l’organisation des élections pour les deux tiers du Sénat, la Chambre des Députés et l’ensemble des collectivités locales ;
  • Mettre en garde tous ceux, nationaux ou étrangers qui veulent maintenir notre pays dans une instabilité politique permanente et croient pouvoir commettre l’absurdité d’organiser des élections dans le pays sans la participation des partis politiques représentatifs de l’opposition démocratique et de la résistance patriotique.


Signataires : Jonas Coffy (Ayisyen Pou Ayiti), Joel Vorbe/ (Fanmi Lavalas), Rosemond Pradel (Fusion), Levaillant Louis Jeune (Inite), Rudolph Prudent (Kontra pèp la), Jean André Victor (Regroupement politique MOPOD). »

 

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IADL-CETIM Statement on Cholera at Human Rights Council

June 23, 2014 - 06:28

On June 23, Micòl Savia of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers delivered a statement on cholera before the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). As the HRC is a political organ, NGOs often use it for advocacy but this is the first time a statement on cholera has been delivered there.

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GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Human Rights Council
26th Session
Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention – General Debate

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and the Europe – Third World Centre (CETIM) call the attention of the Human Rights Council to the ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti and the United Nations’ continuing refusal to accept responsibility for the catastrophic health crisis it caused.

In October 2010, as Haiti was recovering from a devastating earthquake, one of the largest cholera epidemics in modern history broke out in Haiti. To date it has killed over 8,500 people and sickened more than 700,000. The epidemic continues to this very day; UN experts warn that another 2,000 people may die during 2014. Haiti has 0.14% of the world’s population, but now has 55% of the world’s cholera cases.

Prior to October 2010, Haiti had not experienced a cholera outbreak in over two centuries.

Extensive studies, including one conducted by the UN’s own panel of experts, show that the epidemic was caused by the UN’s reckless disposal of untreated human waste from Nepalese soldiers serving in the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Through leaking pipes and overflowing disposal pits, the UN poisoned Haiti’s principal river system with cholera-laden bacteria.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on the UN to compensate victims, and the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights in Haiti has urged the UN to provide reparations to victims. Yet the Organization refuses to take responsibility or establish the legally mandated alternative settlement mechanism to hear cholera victims’ claims.

The challenges faced by Haitian cholera victims in their efforts to enforce their rights and obtain remedies highlight a serious gap in the accountability of international organizations, like the UN, for violations of human rights. Improving accountability mechanisms for international organizations is essential to strengthening protections of human rights and ensuring that victims have access to remedies when violations occur.

UN accountability for cholera in Haiti is imperative. The rights to life, health, clean water and sanitation, a healthy environment, and an adequate standard of living of hundreds of thousands of Haitians have been violated by the UN’s wrongful actions. By denying justice to victims, the UN not only fails to comply with its legal obligations, but also jeopardizes its moral credibility and ability to fulfill its mandate, both in Haiti and everywhere else in the world.

We call on the Human Rights Council to urge the UN to take responsibility and

  •  guarantee victims’ fundamental right to an effective remedy, as recognized by all major human rights instruments, by providing access to a fair hearing on their claims;
  •  guarantee victims’ an adequate, effective and prompt reparations for injuries, death and losses arising from the organization’s wrongful actions;
  •  take immediate action to end cholera’s killing by providing clean water and sanitation

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Prosperity Catalyst Seeks Part-Time Controller

June 23, 2014 - 05:47

Prosperity Catalyst Overview

Prosperity Catalyst aspires to be a global leader in promoting women-owned and led enterprises in the developing world. We place female entrepreneurship and empowerment at the center of all that we do—believing that it is not only a fundamental human right, but is critical for expanding life opportunities for women, families, communities, and nations, and paving the way for transformations in social stewardship, decreases in population pressures, and innovations in poverty reduction.

Program Overview

The Finance team works in partnership with other Prosperity Catalyst staff to develop budgets, implement and manage financial control measures, establish policies and procedures, and ensure compliance with generally accepted accounting principles, and governmental and nongovernmental grant requirements.

Position Purpose

The Controller (Part-Time) directs accounting operations, institutes and maintains internal controls, and serves as financial management resource to programmatic and operational staff on all levels. S/he leads process improvement efforts to streamline and improve accounting, control and administrative operations.

Key Responsibilities

  • Directs all aspects of accounting function and maintains accounting records of the organization in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and grant requirements.
  • Oversees preparation of monthly and annual financial statements, including the A-133 reports, as well as all invoicing and other financial reports to donors.
  • Oversees preparation and submission of the Form 990 report to the IRS.
  • Institutes and maintains internal controls throughout the organization, at the headquarters as well as in the field offices (currently in Haiti and Iraq).
  • Oversees processing of all transactions, including but not limited to payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, field funding, cash management, and investment management.
  • Ensures that the leadership, program managers and all operating managers understand their financial control obligations and reviews their actual performance against those obligations.
  • Plans and directs year-end closings, determines requirements, and prepares financial statements of the organization. Coordinates and controls the conduct of annual A-133 audits with the independent public accountants.
  • Directs and supervises the activities of professional accounting staff and guides the supervision of support staff within the department.
  • Assists the Executive Director and other officers in other duties as required.
  • Reports to the Executive Director
  • Works closely with the Finance and Audit Committee of the Board of Directors

Basic Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree, preferably in Accounting, Finance or related field.
  • CPA required.
  • A minimum of seven years’ Accounting experience, at least three of which are at a comparable level of responsibility.
  • Solid analytical, problem solving and financial troubleshooting skills.
  • Ability to quickly learn new systems, processes and procedures and adapt local practices to global standards.
  • Proactive, hands-on and confident manager who can set appropriate priorities and work effectively with diverse finance colleagues across the global organization.
  • Excellent leadership, coaching, business partnering, influencing, negotiating, presentation and project management skills.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skill including experience in effectively reporting key data as well as translating complex financial concepts to individuals at all levels including finance and non-finance managers.
  • Ability to work effectively under time pressure and meet deadlines with attention to detail and quality.
  • Experience coordinating audit activities and managing reporting, budget development and analysis activities.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office including Excel and Word.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills (in English) with all levels of management, particularly department heads, directors, etc.
  • Willingness to travel internationally.
  • Experience with operations in developing countries, preferably with a young organization
  • Personal qualities of integrity, honesty and creditability.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience with government grants and contracts and/or federal procurement regulations desired.
  • Knowledge of regulations and requirements of State Department, USAID and/or other governmental and nongovernmental donor agencies preferred.
  • Additional language skills in a plus.
  • Experience working with international development and/or entrepreneurial start-ups a plus
  • Experience working in a non-profit organization preferred.
  • Experience training finance professionals.
  • Experience with Quick Books a plus.

Application Deadline

July 7, 2014

How to Apply

To be considered for this position, send a cover letter and resume to Executive Director, Siiri Morley at siiri@prosperitycatalyst.org. Applications will be reviewed upon receipt and interviews for qualified candidates will begin immediately. Start date is ASAP.

 

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Ban Ki-Moon Served with Another Cholera Suit

June 20, 2014 - 12:05

Another step towards justice for Haitian cholera victims: The law firm that filed suit against the UN in the Eastern District of New York in March has served Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon with their cholera lawsuit. This is the second step in the litigation process.

U.N. head served in Haiti cholera lawsuit

Aaron Morrison, Miami Herald
June 20, 2014

UNITED NATIONS – The law firm representing hundreds of Haitian cholera victims in a complaint against the U.N. said it served Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon with the lawsuit as he entered an event in New York City on Friday morning.

Stan Alpert, one of the attorneys for the 1,500 plantiffs in the lawsuit file in March at a federal court in Brooklyn, said it was the first time the firm has been able to hand the complaint to a high-ranking U.N. official, after months of attempts.

The lawsuit asserts that the U.N. should take responsibility for the cholera epidemic, which some studies show was brought to Haiti by U.N. peacekeeping troops. The outbreak has killed more than 9,000 Haitians and sickened 700,000.

“We’d attempted several methods, but we never had the opportunity to service the lawsuit until today,” Alpert told the Miami Herald on Friday afternoon. “They hide behind the wall of their fortress and their security guards.”

A spokesperson for Ban did not immediately confirm the U.N. chief’s receipt of the complaint or respond to requests for comment. During Friday’s noon briefing, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban was at the Asia Society in midtown Manhattan to announce a plan to stem violence in Syria.

 

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Debate on Service of Suit to Ban Ki-moon Continues

June 20, 2014 - 07:34

This article gives more details, from both sides, on what happened when a second group of lawyers tried to serve UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with a cholera lawsuit. While the lawyers say it was successfully placed in Ban Ki-moon’s hands, the Secretary General’s spokesman says security intervened before that happened. Meanwhile, the UN continues to claim no legal responsibility for bringing the epidemic to Haiti.

U.N. Chief Served Papers in Suit by Haitian Victims, Lawyers Say

Rick Gladstone, The New York Times
June 20, 2014

The United Nations has been resisting, successfully so far, lawsuits from Haiti cholera victims who assert that United Nations peacekeepers caused the 2010 epidemic still ravaging the country. But on Friday, lawyers for the plaintiffs said, something new happened: Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was personally served with court papers ordering him to appear, an assertion that his spokesman denied.

In what the lawyers called a precedent, they said a process server was able to place, into Mr. Ban’s hands, a summons and complaint, requiring a response. United Nations officials have argued that the organization is insulated from such legal entanglements because of immunity treaties and other protections, and have even refused to allow servers of court papers into the body’s New York headquarters.

“This is a significant development in the fight to hold the United Nations responsible for the tragic events in Haiti,” said Stanley N. Alpert, one of the lawyers representing more than 1,500 Haitians who have filed a suit against Mr. Ban and the United Nations in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. The suit is seeking compensation, which could theoretically run into the billions of dollars.

A spokesman for Mr. Ban, Farhan Haq, denied the secretary general had touched the papers, which Mr. Haq said an unidentified person had tried to give him as he was walking toward the Asia Society on Manhattan’s East Side on Friday morning to deliver a speech.

Mr. Ban “craned over to have a look,” said Mr. Haq, who was accompanying the secretary general and a security detail. Mr. Haq said one of Mr. Ban’s security aides intervened and declined to accept them. “We were not served with the papers,” he said.

Mr. Alpert, who was not present, offered a different version. “Our process server personally put the papers into Ban Ki-moon’s hands,” he said. “After he put them in his hands, a security guard with him smacked the papers out of his hands and onto the ground.”

Regardless, Mr. Alpert said, “he was served.”

Other legal representatives of Haitians seeking redress from the United Nations said the personal encounter with the process server might have been unprecedented, but it was not the first time Mr. Ban had been served with court papers over the cholera epidemic.

Beatrice Lindstrom, a spokeswoman for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, a Boston-based legal rights group that helped prepare another lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, said its process server, after repeated attempts to personally deliver papers to Mr. Ban, affixed them to the door of his Manhattan residence in January. That is a legal method known as “Nail and Mail.”

Cholera has killed more than 8,300 Haitians and sickened hundreds of thousands since it first appeared in the country, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, after the devastating earthquake of January 2010. Forensic studies, including one ordered by the United Nations, have identified the cholera bacteria as an Asian strain carried by Nepalese members of a United Nations peacekeeping force there.

United Nations officials have described the epidemic as an enormous tragedy and have set up a fund to help but have said the organization bears no legal responsibility for causing it.

Mr. Alpert said the United Nations response reflected what he called its attitude of unaccountability.

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Human Rights Experts Demand Citizenship for Unregistered Dominicans

June 20, 2014 - 07:23

A few steps have been taken to rectify the situation caused by the September 2013 ruling that stripped thousands of Dominicans of their citizenship. While headed in the right direction, the Dominican government has yet to take the final step to ensure that nobody is left out and fight discrimination–citizenship for those born in the country but not registered at birth.

UN Experts urge Dominican Republic to restore citizenship to those not registered at birth

UN News Centre
June 20, 2014

A group of United Nations human rights experts on the African diaspora today called on the Government of the Dominican Republic to adopt the necessary legal measures to restore Dominican citizenship for all those born in the country, but not registered at birth.

The Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent comes after the May adoption of a law to establish a special system for people born in the Dominican Republic and registered irregularly in the Dominican civil and naturalization registry.

“This is an important step towards rectifying the situation by which tens of thousands of persons of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic were rendered stateless by a ruling of the Constitutional Court on 23 September 2013,” said Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, who currently heads the Working Group.

“However, it is crucial to restore citizenship of those born in the Dominican Republic who were not registered at birth, and who represent a large majority,” Ms. Mendes-France emphasized. “It is essential to have an effective and transparent process to ensure that the citizenship of these people is restored at the earliest.”

The human rights expert stressed that such a step would effectively reinforce the fight against discrimination and social exclusion faced mostly by people of African descent in the country.

Last October, the UN human rights office urged the Dominican Republic to take measures to ensure that citizens of Haitian origin, including children born in the Dominican Republic, were not deprived of their right to nationality in light of the September court ruling.

Until 2010, the country had followed the principle of automatically bestowing citizenship to anyone born on its soil. But in 2010, a new constitution stated that citizenship would be granted only to those born on Dominican soil to at least one parent of Dominican blood or whose foreign parents are legal residents.

 

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