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Over 100 Parties Registered for Haiti Elections

April 23, 2015 - 15:26

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

Haiti’s politicians scramble to register for overdue elections

Peter Granitz, Reuters
April 23, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

(Editing by David Adams and Andrew Hay)

 

Click HERE for the original article.

Pretrial Detention and Corruption in Haiti’s Justice System

April 23, 2015 - 01:50

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

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

Haitian Teen Falls Into Trap of Dysfunctional Justice System

Mackenzie Rigg, Youth Today
April 23, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Click HERE for the full text.

How Law Schools Are Changing Haiti’s System

April 22, 2015 - 13:16

One of Haiti’s major problems is limited access to justice for the majority of the population, which is poor. Even those who can afford lawyers often don’t understand legal proceedings because they’re conducted in French. Haiti also has a shortage of lawyers due to overwhelming obstacles post-law school. A few Haitian law schools, in partnership with US law clinics and public interest lawyers like at BAI, are fighting to change these norms. A new law clinic opening up in Jeremie will help speed the process even more.

Establishing the Rule of Law in a Country Where Justice Hardly Exists Advocates are on a quest to improve the quality of life in Haiti through legal education.

Jessica Carew Kraft, The Atlantic
April 22, 2015

The president of the Haitian Bar Association, Carlos Hercule, knows that the rule of law in his country is tenuous, and that people have little faith in the justice system. “We have attorneys who [single-handedly] represent both parties in real-estate deals. We have people representing themselves as attorneys who have not been accredited. And we have judges and officials who accept bribes,” he recently explained to me in French, through a translator.

His French is impeccable, but that’s another problem. French is the official language of the courts in Haiti, but as much as 95 percent of the populationspeaks only Creole, so most defendants—if they can even afford to hire a lawyer—can’t fully grasp what goes on during the court proceedings. There are no public defenders, and available legal aid is extremely limited. Adding to the disparity, as experts have pointed out, is the fact that many Haitian lawyers are typically invested in their own elite social status and rarely offer direct defense to the poor, which they perceive as debasing the profession. The result is that the vast majority of the country’s 10.3 million-plus people—roughly three-quarters of whom live on less than $2 a day—have no real access to justice.

Alleviating these deep-rooted structural problems, however, is all but impossible in a nation that’s still struggling to recover from its colonial legacy and the aftermath of the three decades it spent controlled by a brutal dictatorship—not to mention the catastrophic earthquake that devastated the country in 2010. So while the Port-au-Prince-based bar association is working to address those issues, it has decided that a more effective solution lies in training lawyers to uphold ethical standards and encouraging them to pursue public-interest cases. For many advocates, that the initiative is even happening—despite everything that Haitian society has suffered in the past—is remarkable.

Jérémie, a town of roughly 80,000 people in Haiti’s Western Grand’Anse province, is one community where this approach is being put into action, largely thanks to the local law school’s efforts to tackle the endemic problems plaguing the justice system. Jérémie was known in the early 20th century as an artistic enclave of the educated, biracial middle class that owned charming villas overlooking the Caribbean. Decades of escalating poverty, violence, and oppression under the Duvalier dictatorships eventually ravaged the area, but now the town is slowly regaining its regional prominence, in part because it wasn’t hit by the 2010 earthquake. A new partially built national road linking it to the country’s capital and support from religious organizations have also helped bolster the town’s development.

Still, it’s clear that Jérémie is situated within a developing country—one that last year received a ranking of 168 out of 187 on the United Nations’ Human Development Index. The dense town center is home to cement block structures holding up corrugated tin roofs and donkeys that trudge through the dusty streets alongside motorcycles and uniformed school children; raw sewage runs through street-side channels toward the trash-covered beach. Most households get their water from wells and only receive electricity during certain hours of the day—if at all.

The Catholic archdiocese operates a hospital and several elementary schools in town, and a cathedral is rising incrementally depending on when donations come in. In 1995, the town’s former bishop, Willy Romelus (who famously endured violent attacks for supporting former president Jean Bertrand Aristide), established a nursing school. That same year, he also partnered with Father Jomanas Eustache to found the École Supérieure Catholique de Droit de Jérémie(ESCDROJ), a law school that occupies the nursing-school property at night. Though Romelus is now retired, Eustache, who’s also a lawyer, remains an active clerical figure in the community and serves as the dean and chief fundraiser for the law school, on top of teaching several courses. Similar to his seminary classmate Aristide—who was the country’s first democratically elected president and recently created another law school in Port-au-Prince—Eustache is on a quest to strengthen the rule of law in Haiti through legal education. ESCDROJ is one ofthree or so accredited institutions conferring law degrees in the country (which is predominantly Catholic) and the first one to focus on training public-interest lawyers.

“We’re training lawyers to enter the court system, to maintain high ethical standards and advocate for the poor,” Eustache told me. Citing the widely citedbrain drain from Haiti of highly educated citizens, he went on to emphasize: “And we want our graduates to stay in Haiti.”

In the absence of state support, priests like Eustache become enterprising, devoting their time to much more than supporting the spiritual life of their congregations. They establish schools, hospitals, and businesses, maintaining wide networks of donors to fund their institutions. Eustache, who is fluent in English (among other languages), regularly visits a number of communities in the U.S., maintaining relationships with the Haitian expats living there, as well as other Catholics supporting his mission.

At ESCDROJ, 165 or so students pursue an undergraduate degree in law while also working to support themselves and, often, their families. To accommodate these needs, the law school holds classes during the evenings; students typically pull up on motorcycles around 6 p.m., arriving to Haitian konpa music blaring out of the open-air cement classroom. Still in their work clothes, the students sidle into wooden tablet desk chairs facing a laptop projector and speaker system—which like the rest of the facility’s electric-powered equipment have to rely on power from a generator in the evenings. The school’s library consists of a single, small room housing textbooks and a few computers with insufficient Internet. The heat remains even as the sun goes down, everyone visibly perspiring and clutching sodas or bottles of water. Mosquitoes start to hover.

Over eight semesters total, the law students work through a curriculum determined by Haiti’s Ministry of Justice. The curriculum has no elective courses, meaning that students’ exposure to topics like human rights and social justice depends on guest lectures—often from academics visiting from outside the country. Throughout the years, for example, the school has maintained partnerships with several American law schools: The Columbus School of Law at Catholic University, Seton Hall University’s School of Law, and the University of California Hastings College of the Law regularly fundraise and bring students and faculty to Jérémie to provide trainings in special topics. (I work for UC Hastings and heard about the Haiti initiative through the university; however, I traveled for and conducted my reporting independently, receiving no compensation or editorial direction from the institution.)

Curriculum aside, poor post-graduation outcomes present another problem. Though most ESCDROJ students graduate from the program, according to officials, the vast majority of graduates never become licensed attorneys because of significant obstacles at the last levels of training, often working instead as jurists (those who study and analyze the law but don’t necessarily practice it). First, students must author an 80-page, originally researched dissertation, ormemoire. This is a challenging task for many students, not least because Haiti’s education system and general culture prioritizes oratory skills. Plus, given that only half of all Haitians 15 or older are literate, Haitians are used to getting their information by word of mouth. And access to technology is scarce: Judith L’Amour, an administrator at ESCDROJ, guessed that at least half of the school’s students lack access to computers apart from that they get on campus or at work, while half of Jérémie’s residents, according to estimates, don’t have regular electricity at home. It’s common to see students of all ages studying outside at night using the light from municipal street lamps.

Meanwhile, the memoire imposes a financial burden on students on top of the school’s $500 annual tuition. (Aside from a few scholarships, students have to pay tuition out of pocket because student loans aren’t available). Researching and writing the dissertation can detract as much as a year’s time from paid jobs, and students are expected to arrange for and pay a lawyer to advise them.

Then, after the memoire, students are required to work for two years, again under the supervision of a practicing attorney, in order to become licensed. Most of the time, these positions are uncompensated—even in the public sector; in fact, students often have to pay for any training received from senior lawyers in private practice, according to officials.

And though exact data isn’t available, it’s undeniable that attorneys in general are very rare in Haiti. Each year fewer than 20 lawyers are admitted to practice in the Haitian bar despite the hundreds of students who are estimated to graduate from law school annually. Lori Nessel, a law professor at Seton Hall who has close ties with ESCDROJ, explained that the overly rigorous requirements create a paradox of human resources: “In order to become a lawyer in Haiti, you have to have a lawyer supervise you,” she said. “In a country with a shortage of lawyers, it is very difficult to grow new ones.”

Eustache, noting that Haitian legal education focuses on classroom—rather than experiential learning—says he’s making it a priority to solve the serious lack of client advocacy experience for ESCDROJ students. And those efforts are starting to come to fruition. In 2008, Roxane Edmond-Dimanche, an ESCDROJ graduate, decided to organize a coalition of American and Haitian lawyers to establish Haiti’s first criminal-justice clinic as inspired by American clinical programs. After all, similar projects funded by private foundations and governments to create legal clinical programs at law schools in South Africa, Poland, and Chile have been cited as successful exports of this American educational model.

After years of fundraising and development, much of which was spearheaded by foreign law schools,  the ESCDROJ clinic is scheduled to open this summer in a building designed by the American architect Tom Zook, made of repurposed shipping containers and sitting on a parcel of Eustache’s property. Edmond-Dimanche and Gabrielle Paul, another ESCDROJ alumna, will codirect and supervise the clinic, which is also aimed at providing practical experience to all interested third- and fourth-year students. Several days a week, students are slated to offer legal counsel to indigent clients from all over the Grand’Anse region, specializing in representing victims in cases of sexual violence.

Jérémie’s overcrowded jail, with its squalid, tiny cells, is another rationale for the clinic. According to an investigation by Edmond-Dimanche and Paul, 90 percent of the nearly 200 prisoners in the facility have never been arraigned, which is technically required within 48 hours of arrest, because Haiti lacks a bail system. And, because of the lack of resources, many prisoners serve years without ever seeing a judge—often much longer than they might have been officially sentenced, the two found. ”We believe that the public defense offered by the legal clinic will help the problem of severe overcrowding of the jail in Jérémie,” said Paul, who clarified that the clinic’s public-defense services will only be available in non-sexual violence cases to avoid situations in which they’d have to represent both an alleged rapist and the victim.

By offering legal assistance to victims of sexual violence, Paul said, the clinic will raise the status and legitimacy of these cases, which officially have only been prosecutable in Haiti for the past decade. “Victims, families, and communities have become desensitized to violence against women, and judicial impunity is the norm,” said Nicole Phillips, an American lawyer with one of Haiti’s only public-interest law firms, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI). Phillips, who recently guest lectured at ESCDROJ as the leader of a delegation from UC Hastings, pointed out that rape wasn’t established as a crime in the Haitian legal code in 2005.

The BAI has filed dozens of criminal complaints on behalf of rape victims under the recent code update; 18 have gone to trial, of which 14 have been successful and two are currently on appeal. And the legal clinic aims to bring more perpetrators to justice. “These prosecutions demonstrate hope in the broken system—police, prosecutors, judges and Haitian lawyers are taking these cases seriously and bringing justice to poor Haitian women and girls,” she said.

Phillips is also optimistic about the community-education efforts that the clinic plans to implement. She said that the BAI, which is based in Port-au-Prince, receives most of its cases from grassroots women’s organizations whose leaders are themselves victims of violence. Phillips said that the cases help build the capacity of the organizations and restore their faith in the justice system. The same can be done in the Grand’Anse region, which encompasses 400,000 people spread over 738 square miles. “The 80 percent poor majority also need to be trained about their human rights and the legal system to change the system,” she said.

The clinic might also help shift attitudes among ESCDROJ students, which are still somewhat patriarchal, Paul said, despite the school’s progressive leadership. An exercise during one recent class provided instruction in various countries’ definitions of consent for sexual intercourse—a linchpin for convicting rapists. (Haiti lacks a law on consent, and police usually require the victim to produce a certificate from the state hospital documenting any injuries to open a case.) During the class I observed students were instructed to debate this question: If the wife doesn’t consent, has the husband committed rape?

“If my wife refuses me and she is not sick, then she has committed an offense against me,” one male student stated in front of the class, which was 20 percent female at the time of my visit. Paul immediately jumped up to powerfully rebut his argument: “Are you claiming that your wife is your property? Because slavery is illegal!” she shouted, poignantly referencing the history of slave rebellion in Haiti and winning applause from the crowd. (Haiti gained independence from France in 1804, making it the only nation to be founded by slaves.)

Paul, who brought her American born 17-month-old daughter with her to class, is particularly passionate about fighting sexism. Paul said that the attitudes and behaviors of men govern her approach to parenting: No one but the most trusted family members are allowed to take care of her daughter. “I’ve seen rape victims who are babies who are 4 years old,” she said.

While Paul is excited to codirect the legal clinic, she knows that its opening may be delayed, possibly for months. The fundraising isn’t complete, and the agencies tasked with managing supplies for the clinic have been slow to deliver. The three shipping containers that will make up the structure are awaiting placement on the foundation, blocked by trees that need to be removed before the forklift can drive through. Paul is also aware that the clinic’s location, far from the center of Jérémie, may present big transportation challenges to potential clients scattered across the large region. “We were supposed to get a vehicle so we can provide transport for victims, but I’m not sure we are getting it now,” she said. Nevertheless, the partners supporting the clinic say that any delays are only temporary, and it’s possible for students to offer counsel in other locations if necessary.

Even without the clinic, ESCDROJ’s record of  promoting public-interest law is inspiring other Haitian law schools. The aforementioned Aristide Foundation’s law school in Port-au-Prince, which opened in 2011, is similarly promoting human rights and the rule of law in its curriculum and bringing in international collaborators to provide clinical training. ESCDROJ has demonstrated that this kind of training can significantly improve the legal culture in just a few years.

“I was struck on my last visit to see how many of the legal professionals in Jérémie were trained at ESCDROJ. Judges and prosecutors, the clerk of the court, the chief of police, and law professors are their graduates,” Nessel said. “The school is fulfilling its initial mission to create lawyers educated with a real sense of justice and rule of law who will go on to change the system there.”

 

Click HERE for the original article.

Emerging Voices: A Conversation with the Next Generation

April 22, 2015 - 10:30

At NYU, learn about the future of the human rights movement from the new generation of human rights lawyers.

WHAT:

A conversation with Michael Posner, Co-director, Center for Business and Human Rights and Clinical Professor, Business and Society, Dean Trevor Morrison, NYU School of Law, and the newest generation of NYU School of Law Human Rights leaders: Andrea Gittleman ’09, Program Manager of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Beatrice Lindstrom ’10, Staff Attorney at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti; Tafadzwa Pasipanodya ’08, Associate at Foley Hoag LLP

This event is part of the first annual Bernstein Institute conference which will bring together top practitioners and scholars in the human rights field to discuss inequality and discrimination.

WHERE:

Vanderbilt Hall
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012

WHEN:

12:30 to 1:30pm
April 22, 2015

 

Click HERE for more on the conference.

Here’s the recording of this specific panel:

UN Accountability Questioned After Criminals Escape Justice

April 22, 2015 - 08:58

In December, footage was released of UN peacekeepers shooting at unarmed civilians who were protesting the Martelly government. Although the UN claimed the two peacekeepers were under investigation, it seems no progress has been made. Now, accused kidnappers affiliated with President Martelly have been acquitted by an accelerated procedure and the UN remains silent. The article below questions the UN’s lack of participation in these cases.

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

On Haiti, UN Does If-Asked on Release of Martelly Cronies, Withholds Report

Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press
April 22, 2015

UNITED NATIONS, April 22 — When cronies of Michel Martelly in Haiti were quickly released on serious charges, the UN in Haiti said nothing. So on April 21 at the UN noon briefing (transcript here) Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it:
Inner City Press: Since the UN has a mission in Haiti… there was a report that close affiliates of current president, holdover President [Michel] Martelly were charged with various crimes. And then recently, on Friday, two of those accused were very swiftly released and cleared. One’s name is Woodly Ethéart. The other is Renel Nelfort. Many have raised questions about the rule of law aspect of releasing friends of the President after very serious charges, including kidnapping, money-laundering, etc. So I’m wondering, MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti), does it have any response to this?

Spokesman Dujarric: Sure. They’ve taken note of the accelerated procedure by which the two defendants that you mentioned were acquitted of very serious charges, including kidnapping for ransom, drug trafficking, money-laundering and organized crime, just to name a few. We further note yesterday’s filing for an appeal with Haiti’s Supreme Court by the Minister of Justice and Public Security against the fact that the lower court took the decision of releasing the two defendants. The decision’s been appealed. And the UN stands by the Haitian judicial authorities to swiftly and effectively use the powers and functions conferred upon them under Haitian law to exercise judicial oversight in this matter and ensure the delivery of justice.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Nombre de partis politiques soulève des questions sur Martelly

April 20, 2015 - 09:01

Bien que Haïti a souvent un nombre difficile à manier des partis politiques, le numéro de cette année–129 à ce jour–menace de faire dérailler le processus électoral. Beaucoup de personnes croient que  les 64 nouveaux partis sont proches a le président, et que c’est une stratégie pour engloutir la démocratie représentative. Le CEP et le Premier ministre ont exhorté les parties à consolider. Autrement, il peut être impossible de créer bulletins utilisables.

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

Veut-on vraiment des élections ?

Frantz Duval, Le Nouvelliste
20 avril 2015

57 en 2005, 65 en 2010, 129 en 2015. Le nombre des partis politiques a tendance à croître d’élection présidentielle en élection présidentielle. Sous le règne de Michel Martelly, le bulletin ve devoir faire un exploit pour contenir tous les prétendedants si des regroupements ne se matérialisent pas en vue de réduire le nombre des candidats au scrutin présidentiel.

Les 64 nouveaux partis, faut-il le rappeler, sont, avant tout, proches idéologiquement ou liés d’une manière ou d’une autre à Tèt Kale. L’équipe au pouvoir croit depuis la conférence d’El Rancho que le surnombre d’entités politiques est une bonne stratégie pour engloutir la démocratie représentative.

Alors quand le Premier ministre et le ministre chargé des relations avec les partis politiques font mine d’encourager la réduction des acteurs politiques sur l’échiquier électoral, on se demande pourquoi Tèt Kale ne se contente pas de réunir ses tendances, ramifications, alliés et autres pions, le nombre des partis sera ainsi réduit de moitié.

 

Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

UN Experts Urge Accountability for Haiti Cholera

April 20, 2015 - 05:44

For the first time, UN experts have filed an allegation letter against the UN and not a government. In the letter, they explain that the UN violated Haitians’ rights by causing Haiti’s cholera epidemic and not providing any method for victims to file claims. That letter, and the UN’s response, have been made public. This is yet another demonstration that even the UN needs to be accountable for its actions.

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

Haitians’ Rights Were Violated Over Cholera Outbreak, UN Experts Assert

Rosa Freedman, PassBlue
April 20, 2015

In September 2014, four United Nations human-rights experts wrote to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon alleging that the UN had violated human rights through the cholera epidemic in Haiti, which broke out in October 2010. This is the first time that an allegation letter — a formal complaint procedure typically used against governments — has been filed against the UN. The letter and the UN’s response have, finally, been leaked to the public.

The 34-page response from the UN is the longest and most substantive explanation that the world body has provided so far on the cholera epidemic, despite years of questions from the media and rights groups on the UN’s responsibility on the matter.

It appears that the UN is much more willing to engage with and respond to human-rights experts than it is with the cholera victims and their legal representatives. In many respects, that is the most shocking discovery of the entire process: the UN feels more obliged to respond fully to independent experts than it does to the individuals affected by the epidemic.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Will Haiti Have Democratic Elections in 2015?

April 19, 2015 - 19:52

After over 3 years of delays, it seems like Haiti is going to hold all of its elections–presidential, parliamentary, and municipal–this year. There are, however, many hurdles left to overcome, such as funding the elections and organizing the long list of candidates in a way that’s understandable to a population with high illiteracy rates.

Elections loom: Haiti’s year of living dangerously

Amelie Baron, Yahoo! News
April 19, 2015

Port-au-Prince (AFP) – After three years of delayed polls and simmering political unrest, Haiti’s rusty electoral machinery is finally grinding into gear.

By the end of the year, the impoverished Caribbean republic ought to have a newly elected president, parliament and local municipal governments — a test for any developing nation.

Haitians have not been able to vote in an election since popular singer Michel Martelly won the presidency in a controversial 2011 poll.

Since then, presidential nominees have replaced elected mayors in many towns and the Senate and House of Representatives have shrunk away.

But the long delay has not dampened the ambition of Haiti’s political elite.

More than 120 parties have registered to take part in the contests, in a country of scarcely 11 million with a checkered electoral past.

Not all will field candidates for all the races, but the sheer number of factions will add to the challenge facing organizers in an unruly country reeling from an earthquake and a cholera epidemic.

“We can’t restrict a citizen’s right to form a political party,” sighed Mosler Georges, executive director of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP).

“But we have to admit it’s going to difficult in logistical terms.”

- Electoral marathon -

The numbers underline Haiti’s challenge.

Between mayors, town councilors, deputies, senators and the president, more than 6,000 seats are up for grabs in races spread across three polling days on August 9, October 25 and December 27.

It shouldn’t have been such a marathon. Under Haiti’s young constitution, most of the contests should have been fought months or even years ago at well-spaced intervals.

But things are rarely easy in Haiti. Martelly’s camp and the divided but determined opposition have been at daggers drawn for years, and their stand-off disrupted the program.

Parliament accused the president of trying to stuff the electoral commission with his supporters. The presidency accused lawmakers of delaying a vote on a key electoral law.

As months went by without any votes, local councilors and national lawmakers saw their mandates expire with no replacements named.

On January 12, the national parliament fell into disuse, with too few members to form a quorum to vote on legislation.

Under pressure from the street, where opposition demonstrations were getting louder, and from nervous foreign capitals, Martelly issued a March 2 decree.

There would at last be elections.

Pretenders to the presidency are supposed to register their intent during the second week of May, but already dozens of names are circulating.

“If we have 50 or 60 presidential candidates, you can just imagine how long the ballot paper will be,” Georges told AFP.

Long indeed. Alongside each name on the ballot there must be the candidate’s photo, campaign logo and party registration number.

Around half of the population is illiterate and might otherwise struggle to pick a name.

“So everyone wants either number one or number 10,” George said.

Candidate Number One will be easy to find at the top of the ballot, he explained, and: “Ten is Lionel Messi’s shirt number.”

Argentine footballers may be better known to Haitians than their own leaders, but there is a greater challenge facing poll organizers: Money.

Haiti, already lagging behind its neighbors because of its brutal colonial history and recent years of dictatorship and rebellion, was devastated by a 2010 earthquake.

The unprecedented disaster killed 200,000 people and demolished much of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The World Bank estimated the damage as the equivalent of 120 percent of annual GDP.

Haiti has been slowly rebuilding, but much of the international aid promised in the wake of quake either never arrived or was spent on short-term disaster relief efforts rather than sustained development.

The country suffered another setback when a cholera epidemic, widely and credibly blamed on the poor hygiene of a UN peacekeeping unit, killed thousands more.

- Fear of violence -

Now Haiti needs to pay to organize elections.

The CEP estimates the cost at $60 million (50 million euros). Haiti has found $13.8 million itself and foreign donors offered $24 million more — leaving a shortfall of around a quarter of the cost.

But despite the logistical and financial hurdles, for most in Haiti the main threat to polling is the fear of fraud, violence and intimidation.

Every election organized in Haiti since the fall of brutal strongman Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier in 1986 has been marred by unrest.

To this day, the country has only 12,000 police officers, and the United Nations is slashing the size of its international peacekeeping force.

Between now and July, despite the approach of polling, the Blue Helmet force will be cut in half again to only 2,370 troops.

The foreign troops are often unpopular on the streets, but Haitian authorities have come to rely on them.

In January, when a delegation of ambassadors from member states of the UN Security Council came to visit, Justice Minister Pierre Richard Casimir pleaded for a larger force.

His request fell on deaf ears.

Finally, after all the expense and risk, how many of Haiti’s six million voters even take part? In 2011′s presidential race, turnout was less than a third.

 

Click HERE for the original article.

L’ONU : Cause de la flambée de choléra en Haïti

April 18, 2015 - 09:22

Business Insider a écrit un grand article sur l’epidemie du choléra en Haïti. Dans l’article, l’auteur décrit une lettre d’accusation ecrit par des rapporteurs spéciaux de l’ONU. La lettre cite la responsabilité de l’ONU pour l’épidémie du choléra en Haïti et accuse l’ONU de violer les droits de l’homme en ce cas. La lettre est une étape importante vers la justice. Elle “démontre qu’il y a un mouvement croissant de personnes liées à l’ONU qui reconnaissent que la position de l’organe mondial sur l’épidémie n’est plus tenable.”

Ci dessous est une traduction non-officielle. Read the original text (English) HERE.

Par Armin Rosen, le 9 avril 2015

Traduit par Lika Doehl Diouf, le 18 avril 2015

Ban Ki-moon, Secrétaire général de l’ONU sort d’une maison pendant une visite à Los Palmas, un village frappé par le choléra. 14 juillet 2014.

La flambée de choléra en Haïti est l’affaire Watergate de l’ONU, sauf qu’elle a moins de conséquences pour les personnes responsables, et un impact réel et infiniment plus désastreux.

Un échange de lettres à ce sujet entre trois rapporteurs spéciaux des Nations unies et le Secrétaire général de l’ONU Ban Ki-moon à la fin de l’année dernière démontre que l’organe mondial continue de se protéger de tout examen.

Une éclosion de choléra débuta environ 10 mois après le tremblement de terre catastrophique de janvier 2010.

Malgré la ruine de l’infrastructure du pays et le déplacement de centaines de milliers de personnes, l’apparition du choléra suivant le séisme était une surprise, car aucun cas de cette maladie n’a été signalé depuis le milieu des années soixante, ou peut-être même avant.

Des scientifiques et des journalistes, notamment Jonathan Katz, ancien chef de pupitre d’Associated Press à Port-au-Prince, ont démontré de façon concluante que le choléra a été transmis au pays par des Casques bleus népalais, et que la source de la contamination du fleuve Artibonite et des réserves d’eau était un site d’élimination de déchets humains mal géré situé à une base de maintien de la paix.

Katz a documenté que l’ONU en fait avait camouflé sa responsabilité au début de la flambée, ainsi retardant une compréhension médicale, susceptible de sauver des vies, du caractère de la maladie.

L’ONU a refusé de reconnaître sa culpabilité même quand il est devenu évident que cette épidémie ne saurait exister en Haïti sans l’ONU, son dépistage déficient de ses Casques bleus, et la négligence du contingent de maintien de la paix népalais.

L’épidémie a tué environ 9000 personnes avant la fin de 2014 et a infecté plus que 1 sur 20 haïtiens. Grâce à la Convention de 1946 sur les privilèges et immunités des Nations unies, l’ONU jouit d’une protection juridique large et presque absolue à travers le monde.

Les victimes haïtiennes du choléra n’ont pas eu de chance en poursuivant des cas contre l’ONU devant les tribunaux américains. Récemment, en janvier 2015, une action contre l’ONU au nom des victimes a été rejetée par la cour fédérale des Etats-Unis, mais des projets envisagent de faire appel de la décision plus tard cette année.

Pour traiter les plaintes des victimes sans lever son immunité, l’ONU est tenue d’établir des mécanismes de remplacement au sein de son système. Mais elle ne l’a pas encore fait pour les victimes du choléra, car elle ne se considère pas responsable pour l’éclosion.

Flickr L’éclosion de choléra a mis à rude épreuve un pays souffrant déjà d’une infrastructure décimée à cause d’un séisme en janvier 2010.

Si l’ONU était vraiment convaincue en ce regard de son immunité réel et à long terme, elle serait disposée de reconnaître sa responsabilité pour la flambée, en toute confiance qu’elle à aucun moment ne fera face à une action devant un tribunal national.

Mais au lieu de soit lever son immunité, ou admettre que ses erreurs ont donné lieu à l’épidémie de choléra, l’ONU a pris un chemin de milieu problématique : elle a refusé d’assumer responsabilité, et ainsi intensifié la méfiance de l’organisation et compliqué les efforts de secours, tout en invoquant son immunité juridique et résistant à toute tentative à donner redresse dans son propre système.

L’ONU se comporte comme une organisation qui sait qu’elle a quelque chose à cacher – mais son immunité la donne une option de non-participation qui n’a point d’égal entre les organisations mondiales.

REUTERS

« S’ils avaient confiance dans le fait qu’ils ne sont pas responsables, aucune raison ne saurait nier un procès équitable aux victimes » Beatrice Lindstrom, avocate à l’Institute for Democracy and Justice in Haiti, déclara au Business Insider.

Néanmoins, ils n’ont pas encore obtenu un procès juste et équitable. En octobre 2014, cette situation a suscité chez trois rapporteurs spéciaux de l’ONU des inquiétudes croissantes au point d’envoyer une lettre d’accusation au bureau du Secrétaire général Ban Ki-moon.

Un rapporteur spécial est un expert non-rémunéré nommé par l’ONU pour mener à sa demande des études sur diverses questions d’importance internationale. Ils ne sont pas officiellement employés de l’ONU, mais font partie intégrante de l’ensemble du système onusien.

Les rapporteurs spéciaux envoient souvent des lettres d’accusation destinés aux états ou institutions qu’ils considèrent manquent à leurs obligations sous la Charte de l’ONU ou d’autres conventions internationales.

Cette lettre était destinée à l’ONU même.

« Nous exprimons la grave inquiétude que l’ONU supposément ait omit de déployer des efforts raisonnables et d’agir avec la diligence requise pour prévenir l’introduction et l’éclosion de choléra en Haïti depuis 2010 » y écrivirent Leilani Farha, Dainus Puras et Catarina de Albuquerque.

Ils sont, respectivement, les rapporteurs spéciaux sur «le logement convenable en tant qu’élément du droit à un niveau de vie suffisant», sur «le droit de toute personne de jouir du meilleur état de santé physique et mentale possible», et sur «la réalisation du droit à l’eau potable et à l’assainissement».

« En outre, nous exprimons la grave inquiétude que jusqu’à date, prétendument, les personnes touchées par la flambée de choléra ont été privées d’accès à des voies de recours et n’ont reçu aucune compensation. Finalement, nous exprimons l’inquiétude que jusqu’à date les efforts de lutte contre le choléra et pour améliorer les installations d’eau et d’assainissement en Haïti ont été inadéquats. »

La lettre inclut aussi une « annexe » citant « des instruments et normes internationaux des droits de l’homme pertinents à ces allégations ». En substance, les rapporteurs ont publiquement accusé l’ONU de violer les droits humains en omettant d’établir un mécanisme de remplacement pour que les victimes du choléra puissent déposer une plainte contre l’ONU, et en niant sa responsabilité de nettoyer le gâchis que ses Casques bleus ont laissé de diverses autres manières.

Ali Hashisho/Reuters Les Casques bleus, et l’institution qu’ils représentent, ont peu de responsabilisation juridique.

Le bureau du Secrétaire général répondit environ un mois plus tard, avec une lettre à 33 pages, six fois la longueur de la « lettre d’accusation » des rapporteurs.

Elle a rappelé qu’un « comité indépendant » convoqué par l’ONU « a conclu que l’éclosion était causée par un concours de circonstances et non la faute ou acte intentionnel d’aucun groupe ou individu. » Elle a aussi passé en revue une série d’efforts de secours en Haïti et des changements institutionnels mis en œuvre depuis la flambée, y inclus des normes médicales renforcés pour les Casques bleus déployés de pays affectés par le choléra.

Ban promit que l’ONU adopte une approche « globale » vers l’élimination du choléra en Haïti. Mais la lettre confirma l’immunité juridique de l’ONU, même si elle s’est donné la peine de souligner que l’incapacité des victimes de porter plainte ne diminue pas la responsabilité morale de l’ONU vers eux :

« Le Secrétaire général a dit très clairement que, bien que les plaintes ne sont pas recevables au titre de l’article 29 de la Convention générale et que l’immunité des Nations unies devant les tribunaux nationaux doit être maintenue, cela ne diminue en rien l’engagement des Nations unies de faire tout ce qu’elle peut pour aider le peuple haïtien à surmonter l’épidémie de choléra.

REUTERS/Swoan Parker Un garçon diagnostiqué de choléra est traite à un centre médical géré par Médecins sans frontières aux abords de Port-au-Prince. 1 novembre 2012.

Certains douteraient que l’ONU en vérité fait « tout ce qu’elle peut ». Même si le choléra maintenant n’affecte que 0,05% de la population, le nombre de cas a commencé à grimper vers la fin de 2014. En janvier de 2015, l’incidence de choléra était 75% plus élevée que les experts avaient prévu en mi-2014, et le nombre de cas a atteint un pic de croissance de 50% par rapport à l’année précédente.

Même si l’épidémie est maintenant « sous contrôle » selon les normes épidémiologiques, cela est davantage dû au fait que 2014 était un an sec, qu’à la retraite de la maladie – le choléra est véhiculé par l’eau, et la maladie est à deux doigts d’un retour en force à cause d’un ouragan ou une tempête tropicale.

Ban esquive aussi la question du refus de l’ONU d’établir un mécanisme de replacement pour porter plainte à base de l’épidémie de choléra contre l’ONU. « Ceci montre qu’ils n’ont aucune explication réelle pour leur rejet des demandes. » dit Lindstrom.

Mais l’échange de lettres démontre qu’il y a un mouvement croissant de personnes liées à l’ONU qui reconnaissent que la position de l’organe mondial sur l’épidémie n’est plus tenable.

« Cela signifie un changement important au sein de l’ONU » dit Lindstrom. « Des personnes qui font part du système s’expriment. En essence, ils disent que l’ONU viole les droits humains et posent des questions cruciales à quels l’ONU doit répondre.»

 

 

[…]

ACTUALISATION (10 avril, 10:47):

Le Business Insider a demandé au bureau du Secrétaire général si la lettre des rapporteurs spéciaux avait conduit l’ONU à des changements de politique, et si un précédent existait où un rapporteur avait adressé une lettre d’accusation à l’ONU même. Nous leur posâmes aussi des questions sur un paragraphe de la lettre de réponse du Secrétaire général où Ban écrivit qu’il consulterait le Conseiller juridique de l’ONU pour déterminer si l’organisation considère les plaintes liés au choléra non-recevables – nous voulions savoir si le conseiller avait fourni des orientations supplémentaires à ce sujet.

En réaction, le Porte-parole de l’ONU, Matthias Gillmann, a envoyé au Business Insider la réponse suivante :

« La position des Nations unies en ce qui concerne les plaintes contre l’Organisation n’a pas changé. Comme nous avons affirmé vis-à-vis d’autres cas ouverts, dans la pratique des Nations unies, il n’est pas coutumier de discuter publiquement les plaintes portées contre l’Organisation.

Les Nations unies restent fermement engagées à faire tout ce qu’elles puissent pour aider le peuple d’Haïti à surmonter l’épidémie de choléra.

En ce qui concerne les Rapporteurs spéciaux, ils sont des experts indépendants, et leurs rapports ne représentent donc pas nécessairement la position officielle des Nations unies. »

 

This was an unofficial French translation. Click HERE for the original article, in English.

As Cholera Spikes, Haiti’s Rainy Season Approaches

April 17, 2015 - 20:23

New cholera infections are increasing in Haiti as the United Nations continues to struggle to raise funds for an initiative it started in 2012. As the rainy season approaches, many fear that even the funds that were already requested by MINUSTAH ($36.5 million for the next 2 years) will not be enough to keep the infection rates from rising.

Click HERE for the original article.

Early Haiti rains bring risk of bleak cholera season

Peter Granitz, Reuters
April 17, 2015

PORT-AU-PRINCE, April 17 (Reuters) – Haitian officials are reporting a spike in cholera cases late last year and carrying over into the first three months of 2015 as an early start to the rainy season has public health workers worried.

As of March 28, the Haitian Ministry of Health confirmed at least 11,721 cases of cholera, more than a 300 percent increase from the same period last year.

“Last May there were hardly any cholera cases. Everybody was very excited, thinking this is the first step toward elimination,” said Oliver Schulz, head of the Haiti office of Doctors Without Borders.

“But then the second peak in November/October was so much stronger than anything we’ve seen in the years before.”

Haiti has two rainy seasons that tend to generate spikes in the waterborne bacterial disease; between April and June, and another, which coincides with hurricane season, from late summer until November.

“People stopped talking about cholera, I thought there was no more cholera in the country,” said Givenchi Predelus, who showed up with the virus at a treatment center last week.

Last month, the United Nations mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) requested $36.5 million for cholera programs for the next two years. The figure is based on an assumption that only 28,000 people will become infected this year, a fraction of the peak of the epidemic in 2011 when more than 350,000 were infected.

Haiti leads the world in suspected cholera cases. More than 8,700 people have died after contracting the disease; 52 during last December alone and 113 so far this year. Since it was introduced in 2010, more than 731,000 people have been infected, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

There had been no recorded history of cholera in the country before the 2010 outbreak, believed to have been caused by human waste from a Nepalese-staffed U.N. base seeping into a river used for bathing, laundry and drinking.

The U.N. has been sued by the Boston-based activist group, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), demanding improved water and sanitation infrastructure, compensation for the victims, and an apology.

A New York federal judge tossed the suit in January, and IJDH is appealing.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is seeking support for a $2.2 billion, 10-year cholera-elimination campaign that he launched in December 2012 with the presidents of Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic.

(Editing by David Adams and Andrew Hay)

 

Click HERE for the original article.

Speak Out for Haiti Seeks Volunteer

April 17, 2015 - 07:47

Volunteer Position—Speak Out for Haiti         

Speak Out for Haiti (www.speakoutforhaiti.org/) provides resources for U.S. friends of Haiti to advocate for policies that will enhance stability and prosperity in Haiti, and learn about political and institutional challenges to justice and democracy in the country. With a particular attention to connecting the many U.S. faith-based Haiti charitable and service efforts to advocacy, we provide educational resources as well as email and social media alerts. The mission is to provide U.S. friends of Haiti with reliable information as well as regular opportunities to take action in support of our Haitian brothers and sisters.

Position Description:

A volunteer is needed to help move Speak Out for Haiti up to the next level by increasing its membership and improving its communications and action alerts. The Volunteer will coordinate the drafting and sending of monthly alerts and twice-weekly social media notices. The volunteer will also maintain the website and reach out to people and organizations wishing to advocate for fairness and opportunity for Haitians.

This is an excellent opportunity for someone interested in making a difference for Haitians by promoting international policies that help Haitians learn, earn, organize and vote their way out of poverty.  The position does not require in-depth knowledge or experience as much as strong communications and organizations skills, and a willingness to learn more about Haiti and Haiti advocacy.  It is a leadership position- the volunteer will take the lead in outreach, advocacy and shaping the direction of Speak Out for Haiti (with support).

The volunteer will work closely with Fran Quigley, Indiana law professor and author of How Human Rights Can Build Haiti, and Speak Out for Haiti partner the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, as well as an enthusiastic group of church leaders, political leaders, solidarity activists, medical professionals and human rights advocates who have been touched by Haiti.

Estimated time commitment of four hours per week; a one-year commitment is requested.

Qualifications:

  • Experience with Facebook, Twitter, and MailChimp or a willingness to learn
  • Ability and enthusiasm for engaging people in social justice advocacy through strong written and oral  communications skills
  • Leadership and ability to work independently to complete tasks
  • Commitment to making a difference in Haiti

Application Procedure:

Interested applicants should contact Fran Quigley at quigley2@iupui.edu, with a cover letter and a current resume. The deadline for this position is rolling.

HFRP Information Session

April 16, 2015 - 16:00

Join US Citizenship and Immigration Services in FL for Haitian Family Reunification info.

WHAT:

This is a Haitian Creole-language session on the new Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program. It is free and open to the public, so please share widely!

WHERE:

Deicke Auditorium
5701 Cypress Rd.
Plantation, FL 33317

WHEN:

7-8:30pm
April 16, 2015

 

Click HERE for the pdf flyer.

Plus de 50.000 personnes vivent toujours dans des camps

April 15, 2015 - 07:39

Après le tremblement de terre en 2010, des millions de personnes ont été déplacées et ont dû vivre dans des camps. Maintenant, plus de 5 ans plus tard, 64,680 personnes vivent toujours dans des camps! Tandis que  les programmes de subvention au logement ont aidé, plusieurs personnes qui ont reçu les subventions ont fini par revenir dans les camps après un certain temps. Haïti a besoin de solutions durables de logement.

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

Haïti – Social : 64,680 personnes vivent toujours dans des camps (mars 2015)

HaitiLibre
15 avril 2015

La dernière Matrice de Suivi du Déplacement (DTM) d’Haïti de l’Organisation Internationale pour les Migrations (OIM), allant de juillet 2010 au mois de mars 2015 indique que 16,230 ménages déplacés soit 64,680 Personnes Déplacées Internes (DPI), demeurent toujours dans 66 sites de déplacés ; 59% de ces sites se composent de tentes ; 9% de ces sites se composent d’un mélange de tentes et d’abris transitoires ; 32% de ces sites se composent d’abris transitoires (T-Shelters) ; 39 sites PDI ont été fermés entre le 1er Janvier et le 31 mars 2015 ; 1 site d’abris transitoires a été fermé spontanément du fait du départ des PDI qui y résidaient ; 38 sites (correspondants à 3,322 ménages) ont été fermés grâce aux programmes de subventions au logement et 4,988 ont été relocalisés grâce aux subventions au logement.

Plus de cinq ans après le séisme du 12 Janvier 2010, il est estimé que 16,230 ménages, soit 64,680 personnes, demeurent dans 66 sites.

La majorité des communes affectées se trouvent dans la zone métropolitaine de Port-au-Prince (Carrefour (4 sites), Port-au-Prince (21 sites), Delmas (15 sites), Cité Soleil (1 site), Pétion-ville (2 sites), Tabarre (5 sites) et Croix-des-Bouquets (4 sites)) et dans la région des Palmes qui comprend Léogâne (11 sites) (considérée comme l’épicentre du séisme) et Gressier (3 sites).

 

Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

Statelessness in Our Hemisphere

April 13, 2015 - 06:00

In NYC, attend a conference on statelessness, particularly in the Dominican Republic.

WHAT:

On April 13th, legal scholars, activists, and community leaders from the U.S., Haiti, and the Dominican Republic will gather in New York City to address one of the most essential rights of human rights: the right to a nationality.

Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and actress Angelina Jolie recently announced an ambitious global campaign to end the plight of 10 million stateless people around the world – those who are without a country to call home. As the United Nations’ refugee agency head Antonio Guterres recently noted: “Statelessness makes people feel like their very existence is a crime.” Ironically, on the very same day, the Dominican Republic reaffirmed its decision to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of its own citizens. This effort did not merely do away with classic birthright citizenship moving forward: This overzealous xenophobic effort stripped birthright citizenship for all those born in the country since the 1920s. Sadly, this event by our Caribbean neighbor went unnoticed in the United States. Though a country’s effort to create a stateless group is universally condemned, rogue countries have sadly used such a tactic to harm its most vulnerable minority groups. Such a status leaves these former citizens without the most basic of rights you and I take for granted. In other words, they exist as the most invisible and deprived people on the planet.

As represented in article 20 of the American Convention on Human Rights and which the Dominican Republic is a signatory. Article 20:

Every person has the right to a nationality!

WHERE:

Church Center for the United Nations
777 United Nations Plaza, 2nd floor
New York, NY

WHEN:

9am to 5pm*
April 13, 2015

 

*Light breakfast and lunch will be served

Mining in Haiti on Hold Since 2012

April 12, 2015 - 10:25

The current Haitian government and a few companies have been trying to develop Haiti’s mining sector but, even with support from the World Bank, have been unsuccessful. President Martelly and the Senate were unable to come to an agreement before Parliament became non-functional in January. People living in the rural areas under consideration for mining are hopeful that mining will bring new roads and electricity but others caution that those improvements will only apply to the mines, and that the best jobs will go to foreigners.

Mining in Haiti on hold amid uncertainty and opposition

Ben Fox, Associated Press
April 12, 2015

CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti (AP) – The 50-year-old man from the village scrambled up a grassy hill to ask the onsite manager of a U.S. mining company for work. Joseph Tony had heard VCS Mining Inc. was bringing jobs, along with paved roads and electricity, to this corner of rural northern Haiti. “Everybody is waiting,” he said.

But Williamcite Noel, the only VCS employee in Haiti, had nothing to offer. Although the company received one of two gold mining permits in December 2012, the project known by the hill on which is located, Morne Bossa, was frozen two months later when Parliament imposed a moratorium on mining activity amid deep concerns about whether the country has the capacity to adequately regulate such a complex industry.

Mining had been seen as a potential new source of revenue and jobs for impoverished Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake devastated the capital in the south. Companies spent $30 million prospecting, with the encouragement of a government eager to bring development to the countryside, where most people get by on subsistence farming and lack even basic services.

But the new era in mining that some had predicted remains out of reach because the Haiti has been unable to enact a revised mining law establishing such fundamental issues as the environmental regulations and royalty revenues.

Now it’s too late for this government. The administration of President Michel Martelly, a musician who had little support in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies when he took office in May 2011, was unable to get the law completed and passed before Parliament was dissolved in January. The prospects when a new government takes over next year are uncertain.

“Everything is being put on hold,” said Tucker Barrie, vice president of exploration for Majescor Resources Inc., a Canadian company that received the other production permit, for two concessions north of Morne Bossa.

Majescor once had up to 100 workers in Haiti assisting with its exploration, but went down to a single caretaker. After spending $5 million, the company last month turned over its stake to its Haitian subsidiary in exchange for a share of any future royalties. Barrie said that will require the local firm to find a new partner or outside capital.

“There will be little interest until the mining law issues are resolved,” he said.

Mining giant Newmont Mining Corp., which was studying Haiti for potential sites in partnership with Eurasian Minerals Inc., suspended active exploration in the country in 2012, according to spokesman Omar Jabara.

Before the post-quake mining push, the mineral extraction industry had been dormant in Haiti since a copper mine near Gonaives closed in the 1970s. The country is believed to have the same veins of copper and gold found across the border in the Dominican Republic and could yield an estimated $20 billion in gold and other metals.

Angelo Viard, the Haitian-American president of VCS, pledged to hire locals, pave roads and bring electricity to the village near his 31-acre claim on Morne Bossa. The company built a basketball court and sponsored a soccer tournament, and Tony said that generated goodwill. “People have a lot of hope in the company,” he said.

Many Haitians are not eager to see the development of mining, skeptical of an industry that could pollute a country with a history of weak regulation and environmental problems. Camille Chalmers, an economics professor and member of an advocacy group called the Mining Justice Collective, said any potential benefits for Haitian workers are vastly overstated.

“All the important jobs, with decent salaries, will go to people from abroad,” said Chalmers, who has tracked the industry with lawyers from New York University’s Global Justice Clinic. “The paved roads and the electricity are for the mines, not for the people.”

Chalmers said the delay is good. “We would need a moratorium of at least 10 years to really create the conditions that would enable rational regulation of the industry in the public’s interest,” he said.

Critics also fear mining companies will have undue influence in a country long plagued by corruption. VCS fended off charges of buying influence after a press release about an upcoming book by author Peter Schweizer reported that the company had named to its board of directors Tony Rodham, a brother of Hillary Rodham Clinton, and ex-Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, who was co-chairman of a reconstruction commission with former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Viard said Bellerive and Rodham are advisers, not board members, and they were brought in after he already had the permit. “Mr. Rodham is a person who knows the industry and the financial world and may be able to point us to some party who may be interested in investing.”

He said the country’s uncertain political climate has scared away potential partners. “Any investors we talk to, they say ‘It sounds like a great project but it is Haiti,’” said Viard. “People look at the instability, they look at the history.”

Bellerive said he is an unpaid adviser, and Haiti should consider mining only if it can ensure that the environment will be protected, local communities are developed in conjunction with any mining and the government is fairly compensated. “I am not really sure we are prepared to face all those issues right now,” he said.

Members of Parliament agreed, passing the resolution in December 2012 that halted mining activity after ruling that the permits already issued weren’t legal. The government began working on new regulations with help from the World Bank, but critics say the process was being done without sufficient public input and that the draft was never publicly released.

A standoff between Martelly and the Senate over the legislation needed to schedule elections dragged on until Parliament was dissolved in January, ending prospects not just for the mining law but any other significant legislation. Legislative elections are scheduled for August and a presidential election for October.

The new Parliament won’t be seated until next January, followed by a new president, who will then nominate a new prime minister and Cabinet in a process that typically takes several months in Haiti.  No one knows when, or even if, the new government will submit mining legislation.

In the meantime, Tony and others like him say they will be waiting for mining jobs and the infrastructure that would have to come with it. “The mine should be exploited so this area can be developed,” he says. “It can’t stay like this.”

 

Click HERE for the original article.

Caribbean Arts Gallery Grand Opening

April 12, 2015 - 09:00

Enjoy Caribbean art at the Boston, MA grand opening of the Caribbean Arts Gallery.

WHAT:

Be part of history as the first Caribbean Arts Gallery opens in Massachusetts. An afternoon KidsFest from 12:00-3:00 pm.and Opening Reception from 3:00-8:00 pm will bring members of the community together to celebrate Caribbean culture and enjoy artwork by more than 25 local and international artists. Everyone is welcome to attend. A Key-note speaker and An awards presentation recognizing the artists in attendance will begin at 4:00 p.m. Music and dance performances to follow at 5 p.m.

WHERE:

155-A Washington Street
Dorchester, MA 02121

WHEN:

noon to 3pm KidsFest
3-8pm Opening Reception

Sunday, April 12, 2015

 

With questions or for more info, contact:

Jean Senat Fleury, owner, Caribbean Arts Gallery
Phone: 561-207-1718
Email: jeansentfleury@gmail.com

Communautés haïtiennes se battent des majeures problèmes de l’eau

April 10, 2015 - 12:27

Plusieurs communautés haïtiennes continuent  de lutte contre le choléra, sans les resources de l’eau ou l’assainissement. Récemment, certains d’entre eux ont dû lancer un SOS à l’endroit des autorités pour leur venir en aide. En même temps, l’ONU continue de lutter pour amasser des fonds pour l’eau et l’assainissement, probablement en raison de leur manque de responsabilité pour l’épidémie.

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

Eau: les habitants appellent à l’aide

Joram Moncher, Le Nouvelliste
10 avril 2015

Environ 3 000 habitants de la localité de Lacabouye, dans la troisième section communale de Aguahedionde Rive Droite, commune de Hinche, frôlent une crise humanitaire, en raison d’une pénurie d’eau et de nourriture. Des dizaines d’enfants souffrent au quotidien de colique, de typhoïde sévère et de diarrhée, tandis que des cas d’infection de choléra sont enregistrés à Kèlèsèpè et à Lacabouye, indique le coordonnateur du Conseil d’administration de la section communale, Mérilus Bernard.

« Les paysans doivent parcourir plusieurs kilomètres avant d’atteindre une rivière à Papaye, une autre localité, où les habitants n’ont pas accès à l’eau potable », a déclaré le CASEC Bernard, ajoutant que les autorités locales et sanitaires craignent un rebondissement du virus vibrio cholerae dans toute la section communale, en raison des matières fécales et des tas d’immondices entreposés aux abords de la rivière Samana. « Une pénurie d’eau menace plus de 25 000 personnes à Aguahedionde Rive Droite et Rive Gauche, où les paysans craignent de s’approvisionner dans la rivière de Samana et de Agua Mucho (Guayamuco ) polluée par un déversement de matières fécales et des décharges publiques.

 

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Making History: 17th Annual NHSA Conference

April 10, 2015 - 05:00

Attend National Haitian Student Alliance’s Atlanta conference.

WHAT:

This year’s conference is about making history, and capturing the essence of what it means to strive for something greater than what the statistics suggest are the probabilities. You have to be there to experience the amount value we will be providing for you this year. Our staff have been working tirelessly, day and night, to produce what you will find to be the best conference experience to date. Watch as we make history before your very eyes; as you emerge from the conference motivated and determined to change your future, your school, and your community.

WHERE:

Sheraton at the Atlanta Airport
1900 Sullivan Road
Atlanta, GA 30337

WHEN:

Friday, April 10 to Sunday, April 12, 2015
*Hotel checkout by 11am Sunday.

 

Click HERE for the full conference information packet.

Haiti Cholera Outbreak is the UN’s Watergate

April 9, 2015 - 15:45

The tide continues to turn against the United Nations’ continued refusal to be accountable for cholera in Haiti. Since UN peacekeepers sparked the deadly epidemic in 2010, the UN hasn’t taken responsibility for the epidemic or provided any mechanism for victims to make claims. Recently, 4 UN experts wrote an allegation letter to the UN, citing the UN’s responsibility for the epidemic and accusing the UN of violating human rights. In response, the UN Secretary General wrote that the UN is doing all it can to fight the epidemic but also maintained the UN’s immunity from prosecution. This “exchange of letters still shows that there’s a growing movement of UN-linked figures who realize the world body’s position on the outbreak is no longer tenable.” It’s an important step towards justice.

How the UN caused a massive cholera outbreak in Haiti

Armin Rose, Business Insider
April 9, 2015

The cholera outbreak in Haiti is the UN’s Watergate, except with far fewer consequences for the people responsible and an immeasurably more disastrous real-world impact.

And an exchange of letters between three UN special rapporteurs and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon late last year shows that the world body is still shielding itself from scrutiny.

A cholera outbreak began about 10 months after Haiti’s catastrophic January 2010 earthquake.

The outbreak was curious even despite the ruination of the country’s infrastructure and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people after the quake — there hadn’t been a single case of the disease in the country since the mid-1960s or perhaps even earlier.

Scientists and journalists, most notably Jonathan Katz, the Associated Press’s former Port au Prince bureau chief, have conclusively proven that the cholera was brought to the country by Nepalese peacekeepers, and that the disease entered Haiti’s water system through a peacekeeping base’s improperly managed human waste disposal site, which leaked into the Artibonite River.

As Katz has documented, the UN effectively covered up its responsibility in the early days of the outbreak, delaying a potentially life-saving medical understanding of the pathway and nature of the epidemic.

The UN has refused to acknowledge its culpability even as it became apparent that if it weren’t for the UN’s deficient screening of its peacekeepers and the negligence of its Nepalese peacekeeping contingent in Haiti, there wouldn’t be any cholera in Haiti at all.

To date, the epidemic killed around 9,000 people by the end of 2014 and infected more than 1 in 20 Haitians. Thanks to the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, the UN enjoys broad and nearly absolute legal protection in most places on earth.

Haitian cholera victims have had no luck pursuing cases against the UN in US court. Most recently, a suit against the UN on cholera victims’ behalf was dismissed in US federal court in January of 2015, although there are plans to appeal the ruling later this year.

The UN is required to set up alternative mechanisms within the UN system so that it can redress complaints without waiving immunity. But it hasn’t done this yet for Haitian cholera victims, since it doesn’t think it’s responsible for the outbreak.


If the UN were truly convinced of its actual, long-term legal immunity in this matter, it might be willing to acknowledge its responsibility for the outbreak with complete confidence that it wouldn’t be sued in a national court at some future point.

But instead of either waiving immunity or admitting that its mistakes and misdirections led to the cholera outbreak, the UN has chosen a problematic middle-route. They’ve refused to claim responsibility, deepening distrust of the UN and complicating relief efforts, while invoking legal immunity and resisting any attempt at redress within the UN system itself.

The UN is behaving like an organization that knows it has something to hide — but its immunity gives it a legal out that few other organizations on earth really have.

“If they were confident in the idea that they weren’t responsible, there’s no reason they shouldn’t allow victims to have a fair trial,” Beatrice Lindstrom, a staff attorney at the US-based Institute for Democracy and Justice in Haiti, told Business Insider.

But they haven’t gotten a fair trial. And in October of 2014, three UN special rapporteurs had grown concerned enough to send an accusation letter (embedded below) to the office of Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

A special rapporteur is an unpaid expert the UN commissions to study various matters of international importance on its behalf. They are not officially UN employees, but are integral parts of the broader UN system.

Special rapporteurs often send accusation letters aimed at states or other institutions who they believe are not fulfilling their obligations under the UN charter or other international conventions.

This one was directed at the UN itself.

“We express serious concern that, allegedly, the United Nations failed to take reasonable precautions and act with due diligence to prevent the introduction and the outbreak of cholera in Haiti since 2010,” Leilani Farha, Dainius Puras, and Catarina de Albuquerque wrote.

They are the “Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate  standard of living,”  on “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health,” and on “the right to safe drinking water and sanitation,” respectively.

“We further express serious concern that to this date, allegedly, individuals affected by the cholera outbreak have been denied access to legal remedies and have not received compensation. Finally, we express concern that to date efforts to combat cholera and to improve the water and sanitation facilities in Haiti have been inadequate.”

The letter included an “annex,” citing ”international human rights instruments and standards relevant to these allegations.” In essence, the rapporteurs went on record accusing the UN of violating international human rights law by failing to create an alternative mechanism for cholera victims to bring cases against the UN and for shirking its responsibility to clean up the mess its peacekeepers had made in various other ways as well.

The office of the Secretary General responded about a month later with a 33-page letter of its own, six-times the length of the rapporteurs’ “letter of accusation.”

It recalled that an “independent panel” convened by the UN had “concluded that the outbreak was caused by a confluence of circumstances and that it was not the fault of, or due to deliberate action by, a group or individual.” And it reviewed a series of relief efforts within Haiti and institutional changes that had been implemented since the outbreak, including increased medical standards for peacekeepers from cholera-affected nations.

Ban promised the UN was pursuing a “comprehensive” approach to ending cholera in Haiti. But the letter upheld the UN’s legal immunity, even though it went out of its way to note that cholera victims’ inability to sue didn’t lessen the UN’s moral responsibility to them:

“The Secretary-General has made it very clear, that while the claims have been deemed not receivable under Section 29 of the General Convention and that the immunity of the United Nations before national courts should be upheld, this does not in any way diminish the commitment of the United Nations to do all that it can to help the people of the Haiti overcome the cholera epidemic.”

Some would doubt whether the UN really is doing “all it can.” Although cholera now impacts around .05% of the population, cases creeped upwards at the end of 2014. In January of 2015, there was a 75% higher incidence than experts expected in mid-2014, and a 50% spike in cases compared to the year before.

Even if the epidemic is technically “under control” by epidemiological standards that has more to do with a dry 2014 than than with the disease’s retreat — cholera is water-borne, and the disease is one major hurricane or tropical storm away from an even more accelerated comeback.

Ban’s response also dodges the issue of the UN’s refusal to set up an alternate mechanism for bringing cholera claims against the UN. “What this shows is that they don’t have a real explanation for why they dismissed the claims,” says Lindstrom.

But the exchange of letters still shows that there’s a growing movement of UN-linked figures who realize the world body’s position on the outbreak is no longer tenable.

“This signals an important shift within the UN,” says Lindstrom. “People within the system itself are speaking out against this. They’re basically saying that the UN is violating human rights and are asking critical questions that the UN needs to answer.”

The letters can be found below in full. Business Insider has reached out to Ban Ki-Moon’s office, and will update when we receive a response.

The allegation letter:

SR Allegation Letter 2014

And Ban Ki-Moon’s response:

Secretary General’s response

 

Click HERE for the original article.

Stateless Dominicans Still Face Fears of Deportation

April 9, 2015 - 07:40

Racial tensions have been increasing between Haiti and the Dominican Republic for decades and many fear that over 100,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent may soon be deported. This article describes the current and past conflicts related to immigration, statelessness and racism, which have led us to this point.

Fate of Haitians left hanging in the Dominican Republic

Hisham Ali, Al Jazeera
April 9, 2015

On March 17, the Dominican Republic reopened its consulates in Haiti after weeks of tension and negotiations. The diplomatic outposts had been closed two weeks earlier after thousands of people in the Haitian capital marched from the foreign ministry to the Dominican embassy, protesting the killing of a Haitian man a few days earlier in Santiago, a city in the neighbouring Dominican Republic.

Young men climbed the roof of the diplomatic building in Port-au-Prince and – in retaliation for the burning of a Haitian flag in Santiago – burned a Dominican flag, and tried to raise a Haitian one in its place. Dominican officials subsequently closed their five consulates in Haiti and withdrew their ambassador claiming that the unrest endangered the lives of its diplomatic staff. But last week Dominican officials declared that the Dominican ambassador would return and the consulates would reopen after the Haitian government had agreed to increase security at the diplomatic missions.

This latest flare-up surrounding the status of Haitians in the Dominican Republic comes in the wake of a particularly gruesome hate crime. On February 11, the corpse of a Haitian man was found hanging from a tree – hands and feet bound – in a park in Santiago.

The young man was identified as Henry Claude Jean (better known as Tulile), and worked shining shoes in Ercilia Pepin Park. The Santiago police declared over social media that they “rejected racism as a motive”, suggesting that he was killed by fellow Haitians over a lottery ticket.

Robbery claim

The victim’s family – and human rights activists in Haiti and elsewhere - rejected this robbery claim, arguing that the recent spike in “anti-Haitianism” is the result of long-standing hostility towards and mistreatment of Haitians in Dominican society.

For generations, Haitians have worked in the Dominican Republic doing low-skill, back-breaking work, often coming under harassment, if not outright attack – as occurred in the so-called Parsley Massacre of 1937, when thousands of Haitians were killed under the orders of dictator Rafael Trujillo.

In a letter to his Dominican counterpart, the Haitian Foreign Minister Duly Brutus denounced the recent burning of the Haitian flag, and called on Dominican officials “to respect the fundamental rights of every Haitian in the Dominican Republic”.

The place of Haitians in the Dominican Republic has been in the news of late, because in September 2013, the Dominican constitutional court ruled that people born to illegal migrants do not have a right to citizenship – even if they were born and lived in the country all their lives.

The court ordered a review of the Dominican Republic’s birth records and civil registry, starting from June 1929, to assess who can qualify for citizenship. This court decision sparked an international outcry, and the Dominican government was denounced for its “Negrophobia” – given that the ruling disproportionately affects people of Haitian descent.

As the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees then warned, the court’s decision “may deprive tens of thousands of people of nationality, virtually all of them of Haitian descent”.

‘Foreigners in transit’

The Dominican government used to grant citizenship to all those born in the country, with the exception of children born to foreign diplomats and foreigners “in transit”, that is people who were in the country but on their way to another country.

But over the decades, the category of “foreigners in transit” has been more narrowly defined. In 2004, a new Migration Law expanded the category of “foreigners in transit” to include non-residents, such asundocumented Haitian migrants.

Dominican officials then began refusing to grant certified copies of birth certificates to the Dominican-born children of Haitian immigrants. In 2005, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights denounced the Dominican government for denying birth certificates to two young Dominican girls of Haitian descent, in contravention of the American Convention on Human Rights.

But there is domestic opposition to granting Haitian migrants and their children citizenship. On the day before the Haitian man’s body was found, a group of Dominican nationalists gathered in Santiago calling for the deportation of Haitian migrants.

In response to the widespread criticism, in May 2014, the Dominican Senate approved a law creating a path for people of Haitian descent – thrown into legal limbo by the 2013 law – to normalise their status and apply for citizenship. Dominican authorities have since declared that by June 2015 they will resume deporting people who have not legalised their status. Thus far less than 10,000 people have applied for naturalisation under the new law.

Human right groups are warning that tens of thousands of individuals born in the Dominican Republic, mostly of Haitian descent, are at risk of expulsion.

Hisham Aidi teaches at Columbia University. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Rebel Music: Race, Empire and the New Muslim Youth Culture, a study of black internationalism and global youth culture.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

 

Click HERE for the original article.