Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

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Freedom House Report on Haiti Released

August 3, 2015 - 16:39

Freedom House recently published their 2015 report on Freedom in the World. Below is the overview of the section on Haiti. Haiti’s ratings decreased this year (down 1 point on a 7-point scale) because of the government’s failure to hold elections on time, harassment of human rights defenders and political opponents, and violence against media critical of the current administration.

Click HERE for the full report.

Freedom in the World 2015

Freedom House

August 2015


Legislative and municipal elections due in 2011 and 2013 were delayed for another year in 2014, causing Haiti to descend toward political crisis. As Haitians took to the streets in protest, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned in December at the recommendation of a presidential commission.

The double homicide of human rights defender Daniel Dorsainvil and his wife in February and the fruitless police investigation deepened fear among activists. The government made some moves to improve its capacity to respond to rights violations, but in practice enjoyment of civil liberties did not markedly improve. However, an appellate court did reinstate human rights charges against former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, and the case continues against his regime despite his death in October.

The great economic insecurity of the majority of the Haitian population is one of the main contributors to Haitians’ inability to enforce their individual rights. The vast majority of the population lives in extreme poverty, with 76 percent of people earning less than $2 per day.

Click HERE for the full report.

BAI/IJDH Cholera Case Featured in IADL Bulletin

July 31, 2015 - 13:12

BAI and IJDH’s work on cholera accountability is the focus of the Haiti section in a recent UN activities bulletin. The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) recently published their July 2015 United Nations Activities Bulletin and Annexes. The bulletin includes updates on Haiti, Togo, Geneva, New York and Vienna.

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

Click HERE for the annex.

United Nations Activities Bulletin

International Association of Democratic Lawyers

July 2015

IADL members, led by the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and its U.S.-based affiliate, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), are continuing the fight for justice on behalf of victims of the deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti. The epidemic, which persists to this day, has recently worsened, yet the United Nations has continued to refuse to take responsibility for the outbreak. The need for justice for the victims continues to be an urgent issue, but a number of pivotal developments since October 2014 give us ample reason to hope for a just outcome.

With the help of IADL, IJDH and BAI have been engaged in significant advocacy efforts on behalf of cholera victims. Thanks in part to IADL Representative Micòl Savia laying important groundwork with the UN Human Rights mechanisms in Geneva, especially former Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, four UN independent human rights experts submitted a Letter of Allegation to the Secretary-General on the human rights violations stemming from the cholera outbreak. This groundbreaking communication—it is the first time a Letter of Allegation has been sent to the UN rather than a state— requested clarification on the victims’ attempts to access remedies. Notably, the experts expressed “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.” The UN responded with a 34-page letter that failed to address the central issue of access to remedies and justice for the victims.


Click HERE for the full bulletin.

Click HERE for the annex.

Potential Tourists Exert Pressure on DR Through Boycott

July 31, 2015 - 07:54

Hundreds are speaking out against the Dominican Republic’s human rights violations, taking to Twitter and Facebook to denounce its laws that strip citizenship from Dominicans of Haitian descent. DR’s policy redefines the terms of Dominican citizenship to exclude children born to illegal immigrants since 1929. Now, many people around the world refuse to support the Dominican Republic until the government ameliorates the crisis on the ground, and they are using a tourism boycott as a source of pressure to encourage this action.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the original article.

Dominican Republic fears tourism boycott over citizenship ruling

Yamiche Alcindore, USA Today

July 31, 2015

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Jude Payoute of Atlanta tried to cancel his $6,000 family vacation here after learning about calls to boycott this Caribbean nation for denying citizenship to thousands of Haitian descendants.

“I’m ashamed to tell my friends I’m here,” said Payoute, 64, a native Haitian who immigrated to the United States in the 1980s, as he walked around Santo Domingo’s 16th-century city. “It’s wrong for me to come here supporting the economy of the Dominican Republic because they are racist and they have no decency and they treat people like trash.”

Such strong feelings could force this country to pay a steep price in its dispute with neighboring Haiti if sought-after tourists decide to spend their vacations at other nearby Caribbean islands

Click HERE for the original article

Activists Nationwide Urge President Obama to Take Stand on DR

July 30, 2015 - 15:50

More and more activists and human rights groups are joining together to demand that international governments, particularly the Obama administration, take a stand against impending deportations from the Dominican Republic. After a registration deadline (which was extremely difficult to meet) passed on July 17, the Dominican government promised to begin deporting unregistered people starting August 1. Most of these people are of Haitian descent. Some fear that the Obama administration will not take a stand against this human rights crisis because of the US’ own practices of deporting people of Haitian descent.

Black Activists Pressure Obama To Defend Stateless DominicansGroups accuse U.S. officials of ignoring a racially motivated human rights crisis just off its shores.Roque Planas, The Huffington PostJuly 30, 2015NEW YORK — Black activists and immigrant groups across the country are pressing the Obama administration to take a stronger stand on what they call a human rights crisis for Haitian migrants and stateless people of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic.

Groups from New York, Philadelphia, Miami and other U.S. cities have banded together in a loose coalition called #Rights4AllInDR, holding sit-ins and organizing protests ahead of an Aug. 1 deadline for those without papers in the Dominican Republic to finish registering as foreigners with the government. The groups plan to hold a march toward the White House on Saturday.

The most controversial issue driving the protests is the Dominican government’s decision to revoke citizenship from the children of undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom are of Haitian descent and black, fueling charges that racism played a role in creating the policy.

While the organizations agree that the international community should respond, they don’t necessarily agree on tactics. Opal Tometi, the executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, said the Dominican government was using Haitians and Haitian descendants as a “scapegoat for poor economic policy,” and called on Americans to withhold their tourist dollars unless the island’s government changed course.

“It’s important that people of conscience in the international community put pressure on the Dominican Republic,” Tometi told The Huffington Post in an email. “We are supporting a tourism boycott of the Dominican Republic and encouraging others to stand with Dominicans of Haitian descent who are fighting for their lives and their rights. We in the U.S. will continue to rise up until Black lives matter here and around the globe.”

Not all groups in the coalition, however, endorse the tourism boycott. France François, a spokeswoman for the Association of Haitian Professionals, said her organization pins its hopes instead on pressuring U.S. officials.

“Boycotts are really difficult because they require a lot of people to put together,” François told HuffPost. “Our approach is really holding the U.S. government accountable. Just last week, Obama was in Ethiopia discussing their human rights record. And yet, there’s a human rights crisis right in his backyard and the U.S. is turning a blind eye toward it. As the Dominican Republic’s No. 1 trading partner, the United States should be taking more of a stand on this.”

A series of legal changes since 2004 has eliminated the concept of birthright citizenship in the Dominican Republic, a standard that was enshrined in the Constitution of 2010 and applied retroactively by a 2013 decision by the Constitutional Court. Human rights organizations estimate that as many as 200,000 Dominican-born people of Haitian descent, including some 60,000 children, were left stateless by the changes.

Facing widespread international criticism, the Dominican government launched an ambitious program to restore citizenship to those who lost it and to register undocumented immigrants.

Critics say the process did little to fix the situation. The Dominican government restored citizenship to roughly 56,000 people who possessed passports or other documents proving their citizenship. But though the plan allowed people born to undocumented parents who never obtained such documents to register as foreigners with an expedited pathway to citizenship, only 9,000 people in that situation did so before the deadline passed in February — well below the estimated 200,000 who may have qualified. Many cited problems securing documents or said they were confused about the process.

The final deadline for undocumented immigrants to register with the government for a temporary visa passed on June 17. Those who register must submit the accompanying paperwork by Aug. 1. Those approved receive a temporary visa. Those who are not approved will face the threat of deportation. 

Buoyed by a popular nationalist sentiment, Dominican officials have bristled against criticism from abroad. Apparently anticipating criticism, President Danilo Medina contracted the Washington lobbying firm Steptoe and Johnson to defend the decision before members of the U.S. Congress, according to documents filed with the U.S. government under the requirements of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The documents, which were posted online this month by the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research, show the Dominican government paid the D.C. firm more than $800,000 for eight months of work.

But despite posturing from Dominican officials and daily outrage from nationalists on the island who resent foreigners criticizing their immigration and nationality policies, the Obama administration has offered little public criticism of the country’s efforts to expel Haitians or their undocumented, Dominican-born children. Dominican nationalists often point out that the Obama administration has built a reputation for mass deportations, including of Haitians. 

The U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic, James Brewster, praised the country’s deportation efforts last month during a visit to a holding center for processing deportees outside Santo Domingo, according to Dominican daily Listín Diario. “Everything’s in very good order,” Brewster said during the visit, in comments published by the paper in Spanish. “I hope that when people arrive here they’ll be treated well. I don’t have any doubt that they will.”   

Despite the lack of public criticism, a State Department spokesperson wrote to HuffPost by email last month saying that the Obama administration has asked Dominican authorities to abide by international standards in carrying out deportations.

“The United States has consistently urged Dominican authorities to address the issues faced by persons at risk of statelessness in a manner that respects their human rights and is consistent with the Dominican Republic’s international commitments and human rights obligations,” the statement said.

Click HERE for the original version of this article.

Former Haitian Mayor found guilty of violent crimes with help of BAI

July 28, 2015 - 12:57

After a mayor and his associates murdered the brother of a human rights worker in Les Irois, Haiti in 2007, justice has finally been served. The mayor, Jean Morose Viliena, and other defendants have been found guilty of violent crimes and have been sentenced to seven years in prison. BAI has been supporting victims in the case since 2012.

Justice has been upheld in Haiti as Court finds former Mayor guilty of violent crimes

Sigrid Rausing Trust

28 July 2015

21st July 2015: After 8 years of fighting for justice, the Court in Haiti has found former Mayor of the small town of Les Irois, Jean Morose Viliena, guilty of violent crimes. In 2007, he and several associates broke into the Boniface family home where they murdered Eccliasiaste Boniface because his brother David, a human rights worker, had helped a women file a complaint against the Mayor for harassment. They were also responsible for sending death threats, burning down houses, beating and shooting people.

The Mayor had connections in the political and justice system of Haiti and therefore the case has come up against repeated obstacles. Bureau Des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), partner of SRT grantee Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), began supporting victims in 2012. After a long and difficult process, a trial was set for April 2015 but was postponed after BAI announced there would be international legal observers present at the trial. After more delays the trial finally started in early July and resulted in the judge sentencing the defendants to 7 years in jail. Viliena has not yet been arrested but police have instructions to jail him as soon as he is found.

This case will bring peace of mind to many courageous people and their families, many of whom were threatened and forced to flee their communities and hide. It also establishes a precedent that political violence can be prosecuted despite the perpetrators’ power and connections. This is of particular importance with Haiti currently preparing to run elections for a number of Senate seats.

Following the Court’s decision, our grantee partners spoke with David Boniface by phone. He said “I thank all of you for your support and hard work throughout this process. I congratulate you on a job well done. It is the first time that I have seen something like this happen, from the beginning to the end, we worked hard and we won. Thank you for keeping me alive”.

Click HERE for the original article.

American Jewish Community Should Speak Against Deportations in DR

July 28, 2015 - 12:06

In comparing and drawing parallels between the current citizenship crisis in the Dominican Republic and Jewish history, particularly in the years leading to World War II, American Jewish leaders are calling for their community to respond. According to Ruth Messinger, president of the American Jewish World Service, Jewish Americans have an obligation to speak out against the current situation in DR in order to avoid repeating history.

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

Op-Ed: American Jews must speak out for Haitians in Dominican Republic

Ruth W. Messinger, Jewish Telegraphic Agency

28 July 2015

NEW YORK (JTA) — Fewer than 800 miles from our shores, a deeply disturbing crisis is unfolding as tens of thousands of citizens of the Dominican Republic face deportation from their country simply because of their heritage.

Tragically, people of Haitian descent who were born in the Dominican Republic have been stripped of their rights and their citizenship, and are living in a state of legal limbo. These people are not all recent immigrants, as the Dominican government would have you believe, but come from families that have been living in the Dominican Republic for up to a century.

I cannot help but see this crisis through Jewish eyes, and I call on the United States government to do all it can to stop it.

For some, exile is already a reality. In fact, a recent Human Rights Watch report documented more than 25 detentions in which Dominicans of Haitian descent were forcibly taken to deportation points along the border, despite having valid documentation of being born in the Dominican Republic.

Without any recognized citizenship, these people would be without a home, have no guaranteed civil rights, no right to due process in any court in the world.

Taking this all in, I cannot help but feel a sense of deja vu. We have seen this tragic movie before.

In 1939, in waters not far from the island that Haiti and the Dominican Republic share, Jewish refugees aboard the Saint Louis — people whose rights had been stripped from them in Europe — were denied access to Cuba and the United States. Throughout the 1930s, Jews found their rights being whittled away across Europe and most dramatically in Germany. When the Nazis passed the Nuremberg Laws, they stripped Jews of all of their rights as the terrible first step of their genocidal campaign.

Further back in history during the Middle Ages, Jews were frequently expelled from countries such as England, France and Spain for spurious reasons, including causing illness and pestilence.

Click HERE for the full article.

UN Group Speaks Out Against Deportations from DR

July 28, 2015 - 10:35

The UN Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent has released the following statement urging the Dominican government not to deport people of Haitian descent. The group currently at risk of deportation from DR includes not only Haitian migrants but also many people who, up until 2013 were considered Dominican citizens. The head of the expert panel stresses that DR “cannot violate international norms or those of the inter-American system of human rights protection, and especially not violate its own Constitution.”

Dominican Republic: UN experts concerned over fears of arbitrary deportation and racial profiling

United Nations Human Rights Office

July 28, 2015

GENEVA (28 July 2015) – The United Nations Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent today called on the Government of the Dominican Republic to take steps to prevent arbitrary deportations and to adopt measures to address allegations of racial profiling during deportations of people of Haitian descent.

Some 19,000 people have reportedly left Dominican Republic for Haiti since 21 June due to fear and amidst concerns that there will be violations when deportations officially start in August.  

“No one should be deported when there are legal and valid reasons to stay,” said human rights expert Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, who currently heads the expert panel. “Migrants are entitled to protection and Dominicans of Haitian descent have the right to reside safely in the territory, as well as children born in the Dominican Republic who are legally registered,”

“The Dominican Republic cannot violate international norms or those of the inter-American system of human rights protection, and especially not violate its own Constitution,” she emphasized.

The expert warned that the difficulties in obtaining necessary documents to register for the naturalization and regularization process, the lack of information on the deportation plan, and the deportations “have instilled fear, resulting in a situation whereby people of Haitian descent without documents are also leaving to avoid abrupt deportations.”

The Working Group reiterated its call* on the Dominican authorities to put in place effective and transparent legislation and other measures to successfully fight the discrimination and social exclusion faced mostly by Haitian migrants and people of Haitian descent in the country.

“The Dominican Republic does not recognize the existence of a structural problem of racism and xenophobia, but it must address these issues as a matter of priority so the country can live free from tension and fear,” Ms. Mendes-France stressed.

(*) Read: “UN experts urge Dominican Republic to restore citizenship for those born in the country but not registered at birth” –

The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent was established on 25 April 2002 by the then Commission on Human Rights, following the World Conference against Racism held in Durban in 2001. The Working Group is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Ms. Mireille FANON-MENDES-FRANCE (France), current Chair-Rapporteur; Ms. Verene SHEPHERD (Jamaica); Mr. Sabelo Gumedze (South Africa); Mr. Ricardo A. SUNGA III (the Philippines) and Mr. Michal BALCERZAK (Poland). Learn more, visit:

The Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Check the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination:

UN Human Rights, country page – Dominican Republic:

For more information and media requests, please contact Niraj Dawadi (+41 22 928 9151 /, Christina Saunders (+41 22 928 9197 / or write to

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 /



Click HERE for the original release.

UN Stands Against Arbitrary Deportations from DR

July 28, 2015 - 09:34

A United Nations Working Group has called on the Dominican Republic to respect international laws and end arbitrary deportations to Haiti. Up until 2013, DR considered anyone born on its soil as a citizen, except those who were “in transit” (e.g. diplomats). In September of that year, a Constitutional Court ruled that this policy no longer applied all the way back to 1929, leaving at least 200,000 people stateless. After registration deadlines passed, thousands have fled to Haiti in fear of suddenly losing their belongings and family to mass deportations. The head of the UN working group states that “No one should be deported when there are legal and valid reasons to stay.”

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

Stop arbitrary deportations of Dominicans of Haitian descent, says UN

Sam Jones, The Guardian

July 28, 2015

UN experts have called on the government of the Dominican Republic to stop the “arbitrary deportations” of Dominicans of Haitian descent, warning that its actions risk violating international laws as well as the country’s own constitution.

The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent said the Dominican Republic also needed to address allegations that racial profiling was being used during the deportation of people of Haitian heritage.

Two years ago, the Dominican constitutional court used a retroactive reinterpretation of the country’s law to strip thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship. It ruled that while anyone born in the Dominican Republic between 1929 and 2010 was entitled to citizenship, those born to parents who were in the country as undocumented migrants were not.

Previously, all children born on Dominican soil, except those considered to be in transit, such as the children of foreign diplomats, were granted citizenship. This included hundreds of thousands of children born to immigrants, once their birth was registered.

Click HERE for the full text.

Strong Recommendations on Haiti from Women’s Working Group

July 28, 2015 - 07:04

The UN Security Council (UNSC) recently conducted a review of MINUSTAH. Below are the Women, Peace and Security Working Group’s recommendations on Haiti to the UNSC.

Click HERE for the full report, including recommendations on other countries.

MONTHLY ACTION POINTS: Women, Peace and Security

July 27, 2015

As the Council considers a report on the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) it is vital for the Council to call for women’s full and equal engagement in building Haiti’s future. This is particularly important in view of increasing threats and harassment against women-led civil society organizations, particularly against those calling for justice for sexual and gender-based violence. Options for reconfiguration of MINUSTAH must detail the ways in which gender will be mainstreamed and how women’s participation and protection will be at the core of the mission’s mandate. In this respect, in its discussion of the report and any future action, the Council should:

-Call on MINUSTAH to take steps to provide and coordinate substantive legal and sensitivity trainings for police officers, prosecutors, judges and other relevant Government officials who may interact with survivors of gender-based violence, including violence motivated by gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.

-Ensure the availability of gender-sensitive assistance services for survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by UN Peacekeepers, including the establishment of transparent, survivor-centered and readily accessible mechanisms to hear claims for remedies from survivors of SEA;

-Call for remedies for victims of cholera, including compensation in accordance with Res. 52/247 and work with the Haitian Government to establish a standing claims commission in accordance with the UN-Haiti SOFA to provide fair, impartial and transparent adjudication of cholera victims’ claims.

Click HERE for the full report, including recommendations on other countries.

Local Dominican Leaders Threatened for Denouncing DR Law

July 27, 2015 - 12:44

Local community leaders are bringing the debate about the DR crisis closer to home; influential Dominican Americans in Boston face tremendous backlash for speaking out about the DR’s controversial policies. Writer and MIT professor Junot Diaz, vice mayor of Cambridge Dennis Benzan and restaurant owner Hector Piña have been deemed traitors by some, receiving threats to their careers and physical safety after a Boston TV host posted a picture of the three men. The intense criticism of these individuals captures the contention surrounding the DR’s citizenship laws and possible deportations, both on the island of Hispaniola and among local diaspora communities.

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

In local Dominican community, debate on racism boiling

Maria Sacchetti, The Boston Globe

July 27, 2015

They are among the pillars of the Dominican community in Massachusetts: Junot Diaz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and professor at MIT; Dennis Benzan, the vice mayor of Cambridge; and Hector Piña, the owner of a Boston restaurant.

But in recent weeks the men have been assailed as traitors against their country, and worse, for criticizing the Dominican Republic’s citizenship policies toward people of Haitian descent and engaging in a thorny debate over racism.

Some called for Diaz to be charged with treason. Others vowed to oppose Benzan in the coming elections. Another allegedly brandished a baseball bat at Piña.

“Imagine your mother telling you, ‘I don’t love you anymore,’” said Benzan, whose uncle was a general in the Dominican Army. “That’s kind of how I feel.”

Click HERE for the original article.

People facing deportation from DR flee to settlement camps

July 27, 2015 - 12:15

In anticipation of formal deportations from the Dominican Republic after being stripped of citizenship, many have fled to settlement camps along the Haiti-DR border. Leaving behind families, livelihoods, and homes for the tents of the camps, most are forced to rely on small amounts of savings as they wait for the government to step in and help.

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

Fleeing to Haiti, They Put Their Faith in ‘God and Government’

Peter Granitz, NPR

27 July 2015

Marie Etyse left two of her children behind.

She’s 29, a widow and has five kids. She has lived in a town in the Dominican Republic for the past nine years.

Like many Haitian migrants, she faces deportation after a law stripped her of her citizenship. Formal deportation could start as early as Aug. 1, so many of these people have already fled to settlement camps in Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the DR.

Etyse tried to get the required papers to stay in the country.

“All the people in the process kept asking for money,” she says. “They ask for money for the papers, and then the papers are no good.”

So three months ago, she went to live in a camp at Tete de l’Eau.

And she said goodbye to her two young kids — temporarily, she hopes. They’re staying with the family of her deceased husband.

“I couldn’t travel back with all of them,” she says.
At Tete de l’Eau, she stands on the bank of a bone-dry riverbed. It hasn’t rained in 10 months. That rocky river bottom is the international border. And people walk back and forth. It’s one of the countless unofficial crossings along the 230-mile line that separates Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Etyse had lived just five miles past the riverbed, in a town called Black Water.
Everybody in Tete de l’Eau — currently about 400 people — has been here for at least three to six months. Most of them farmed in the Dominican Republic. But with no water or available land in the Southeast Department of Haiti, where the camp is located, that’s not an option.

Charlesina Lyone thumbs the bowl of her pipe as she explains how she and her husband are living on their paltry savings. She says they’re waiting on two things: God and the government.

“If we have one pot of rice, we’ll separate it in two,” she says. “We’ll make it last twice as long.”

There are at least four settlements in the southeast. A handful of NGOs register people, and the parish hands out food and blankets when it can.

Click HERE for the full article and audio.

Dominican Republic Segment on Haiti Journal

July 26, 2015 - 09:30



Sunday, July 26, 2015


Mass deportation of Haitians from Dominican Republic

On July 6, Radio France International – RFI — reported that since June 17, 2015, more than 30 000 people have arrived in Haiti from the Dominican Republic. Every day, dozens of illegal immigrants are expelled forcibly from the Dominican Republic. The majority are women and children. Upon their arrival in Haiti, these people live in extremely precarious conditions in improvised shelters.


Francois Guillaume II, former Minister of Haitians Living Abroad

Chantalle Verna, PhD, Florida International University

Ariol Eugene, Esq., Haitian Lawyers Association


Haiti Journal is produced in association with the Haitian American Professionals Coalition (HAPC).

Post your comments and watch Haiti Journal online at:

DR Government Disputes Claims of Deportations, Despite Evidence

July 24, 2015 - 14:14

Though the Dominican Republic (DR) government claims that there have been no deportations to Haiti since December 2013, people of Haitian descent who fled DR say otherwise.  Many decided to leave after receiving threats, harassment and other intimidation. The International Organization for Migration found that many were deported by entities including the military, immigration officials and even civilians. While DR says that the regularization and naturalization plans it implemented are efforts to fix a broken immigration system, both programs required paperwork that was impossible for poor Dominicans and Haitians to obtain. The Haitian Prime Minister warned that the deportations–if tehy still take place–will also result in a humanitarian crisis, as Haiti doesn’t have the capacity to support the 200,000 or so at risk of deportation.

Haitian migrants allege deportation, but DR disputes claims

Matt Chandler, Al Jazeera

July 24, 2015

ANSE-À-PITRES, Haiti — Joanis Beaunis says he was deported. Sitting in a makeshift tent he built from tree branches and old cardboard in a camp just outside the Haitian border town of Anse-à-Pitres, the 30-year-old describes how his life has been turned upside down.

“I was born in the Dominican Republic,” he says. “I was coming home from work and immigration authorities grabbed me and deported me to Haiti. My children are still on the other side. It’s been two months since I last saw them.”

His wife Antonia Jane looks lost in her new environment. There is little to do except wait in the intense heat. Food and water arrive sporadically. She and Joanis share the few clothes and shoes they have. Friends they have spoken to only once since they arrived are looking after their children. She says there are many just like them who have been forced to leave the Dominican town where they lived.

“Every day in Barahona they’re deporting a lot of people. Every day they send them to the border,” she says.

The sprawling camp sits on dry, rocky land. Everywhere there are signs of new arrivals. Plots of land are drawn with lines on the ground. Inside the lines stand the wooden skeletons of homes built by hand with nothing more than a machete, string and sweat. They won’t withstand the rainy season when it comes.

Toussaint Eugene, a pastor who oversees the camp, says he has stopped counting the new arrivals. “In the first days I made a list of 160. And every day the number is growing more and more,” Eugene says.

The majority of those living in the camp say they left the Dominican Republic voluntarily, but because they faced harassment, intimidation and racial discrimination. A few say they were threatened they would be killed if they stayed. But others like Joanis are adamant they didn’t choose to come to Haiti.

The Dominican government disputes those accounts. It says no one has been deported since a June 17 deadline passed for foreign workers to apply to stay.

“Since President Danilo Medina decreed a moratorium in December 2013, no deportations have occurred,” Josué Fiallo, special advisor to the Dominican ministry of the presidency, told Al Jazeera. “Individuals who have voluntarily left the Dominican Republic are entitled to return and apply for residential status.”

Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have cited cases of deportations since the Dominican government’s 2013 moratorium.

Asked when deportations would begin, Fiallo said the government would continue to implement its immigration rules.

“No one born in the Dominican Republic will be deported and no one who holds or is entitled to legal Dominican nationality will be deprived of it. Each case will be determined on an individual basis. We are not going to repatriate unaccompanied minors, elders or people undergoing medical treatment,” he said.

The Dominican government estimates that 42,000 people have voluntarily left for Haiti. It isn’t clear how that number has been calculated. As well as the handful of official border crossings, there are numerous unofficial points where people cross back and forth.

The strain in relations between the two nations that share the island of Hispaniola has worsened as each government has given contrasting accounts of what is happening. Haiti’s foreign minister Lener Renauld accused Dominican authorities of dumping undocumented Haitians at the border “like dogs.”

That’s been rejected by the Dominican authorities.

In the last few weeks, field teams from the International Organization for Migration have interviewed 1,133 individuals or 349 households at nine official and unofficial points in Haiti along the Dominican border. A majority said they had chosen to go to Haiti, while over 400 — more than a third — said they had been deported by entities including the military, police, immigration officials and civilians. They said they were deported in June and July.

After he had visited two camps near Anse-à-Pitres as part of a four-day trip to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the head of a mission from the Organization of American States, Francisco Guerrero, pointedly refused to say whether he believed some living in the camps he visited had been deported from the Dominican Republic.

“I wouldn’t like to make a specific comment now because I’m going to write a report and it’s essential the report remains objective and impartial otherwise I could create more problems that I’m trying to solve,” Guerrero told Al Jazeera.

He did, however, call for dialogue.

“I think it’s going to be extremely important that the two governments settle on a mechanism in order to discuss all these claims between the two countries. One thing I have learned during this visit is that you see one version on the Dominican Republic side and another version in what’s happening in Haiti,” he said.

It was a ruling by the constitutional court in the Dominican Republic in 2013 that controversially stripped people born in the Dominican Republic of citizenship if they don’t have at least one Dominican parent. That led to international criticism and concerns these people could be made stateless.

In the days after the immigration deadline passed in June, Adrian Edwards from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said, “With a stateless population in the Dominican Republic estimated at more than 200,000 people, the consequences of expulsion could be devastating.”

Eight thousand managed to enroll in the government’s so-called “naturalization plan.” Some others resorted to trying to obtain a Haitian passport so they might register as a foreign worker and stay in the land of their birth.

It’s unknown how many foreign, undocumented workers live and work in the Dominican Republic — estimates put the number in excess of half a million — but it is known that the vast majority are Haitian. According to the Dominican government 240,000 migrant workers began the registration process. Critics of the government say it is the thriving Dominican economy that will suffer as well as the individuals.

“The fear is that farming, construction and other fundamental sectors depend on Haitian workers,” said Guadalupe Valdez, a Dominican congresswoman. “The business sector is very worried.”

On a construction site in the Dominican capital Santo Domingo, one undocumented Haitian laborer — with no plans to leave — told Al Jazeera some are paid as little as $6 dollars a day. “We do the jobs Dominicans won’t,” he said.

A youth plays with a truck made from a vegetable oil bottle and bottle caps outside a school building where residents have allowed families deported from the Dominican Repblic to stay, in the village of Fonbaya, Haiti, in June, 18, 2015.Rebecca Blackwell/AP

A majority of Dominicans support the measures their government is taking. Asked why the number of undocumented foreign workers needs to be reduced, Dominican government spokesperson Josué Fiallo said, “On the island of Hispaniola, home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the documentation and citizenship policies of both countries were weak and largely not enforced. Because of this reality, hundreds of thousands of people on Hispaniola — mainly in Haiti — did not have clear residency status or citizenship documents.”

“While we cannot undo the past,” Fiallo continued, “the Dominican government is addressing a broken system that for decades left large groups of its population, both citizens and migrants, undocumented and vulnerable. In 2015, hundreds of thousands of people will have documentation and rights in our country that they did not have two years ago.  This is a large step forward for human rights in our region.”

Valdez agrees that those who have successfully registered should enjoy greater rights. However she sharply criticized the immigration programs put in place, arguing that gathering the required paperwork was simply too expensive for poor workers.

At another camp near the border in the town of Malpasse, those who have arrived in recent weeks are desperate. Frank Doceby was a construction worker for 20 years in the Dominican Republic. He moved there as a boy. Now his home is a school, another makeshift camp. Four rooms house up to 100 people.

“I just need help to find somewhere to live and to find work. We are waiting and praying but there is no solution yet,” Doceby says. When school begins again, everyone will have to leave.

Many at the school are as critical of the Haitian government as they are of the Dominican one. Just a few miles down the road is one of a half-dozen sites nationwide where the Haitian government promised it would build reception centers to receive new arrivals “with dignity.” So far the only thing it has built is a sign welcoming the “repatriated.”

After another prayer session at the school, Velda Charles explains how after repeated efforts she finally enrolled in the Dominican immigration program. She spent what for her was a fortune — nearly $200 — to have her documents notarized by a lawyer. But she says she was deported anyway. She blames the Haitian consul in Barahona.

“I went three times to apply for my Haitian passport so I could also register my children. I couldn’t get the passport or register them. They don’t have any documents,” Charles says. She’s worried she’ll be permanently separated from her children who are still in the Dominican Republic. She says there is no support from the Haitian government: “We’ve received nothing from them.”

The Haitian government didn’t respond to numerous requests for an interview.

Haitian Prime Minister Evans Paul has warned that a humanitarian crisis is being created in a country in which an estimated 80,000 displaced people are still living in tents five years after a devastating earthquake.

As he toured the Anse-à-Pitres camps, Frantz Pierre-Louis, a Haitian official who accompanied the OAS mission and represents the southeast region, told Al Jazeera he hoped this moment would lead the Haitian government to create longterm sustainable development.

“We must assume our responsibility to our people. It will take a national effort to do so,” he said. After hearing the stories of those in the camps, he believes those who had come voluntarily had only done so because they had been harassed and put under extreme pressure to leave, what he refers to as “forced deportation through society.” He believes it is an orchestrated campaign.  Responding to those claims, Josué Fiallo from the Dominican government told Al Jazeera, “We condemn these actions. The government has issued specific orders that officials must respect the rights of everyone residing in the Dominican Republic as they seek to document and regularize their status. Sanctions will be made against anyone who has engaged in coercion or intimidation.”

Pierre-Louis said it would require mediation from other countries throughout the Americas to stop the situation from deteriorating further. It’s unclear what action the Dominican government will take once the Aug. 1 deadline passes to complete the paperwork for those who registered in the immigration programs. That uncertainty is creating anxiety.

“There is little information on when and how many deportations will take place,” said Gregoire Goodstein, chief of mission in Haiti for the International Organization for Migration. “This puts Haiti — an already fragile state coping concomitantly with a drought in the southeast, elections, a downsized MINUSTAH [the U.N. mission in Haiti] — in an awkward position as planning to receive possibly thousands of returnees is virtually impossible.

Click HERE for the original article.

Une formule pour distribuer les fonds de campagne suscite les critiques

July 24, 2015 - 10:54

Le Conseil électoral provisoire et le gouvernement ont adopté une nouvelle formule pour partager les 500 millions de gourdes des fonds de campagne qui sont disponible. Cependant, les partis politiques sont en désaccord avec la façon dont l’argent est distribué. Ils croient que les partis plus proches au pouvoir vont recevoir la majorité de l’argent, et que cette distribution est une violation du décret électoral.

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

Les partis rejettent la formule adoptée

Lionel Edouard, Le National

24 juillet, 2015

Le Conseil électoral provisoire et le gouvernement ont annoncé via le ministre chargé auprès du Premier ministre des Questions électorales, Jean Fritz Jean Louis, une formule pour distribuer les 500 millions de gourdes destinées à financer la campagne électorale. Trente pour cent iront aux 120 entités politiques agréées, 20 % aux candidats à la présidence inscrits sous la bannière d’un parti, 20 % aux candidats agréés aux municipales et locales, 10 % aux candidats aux sénatoriales, 10 % aux candidats à la députation et l’autre 10 % aux partis ayant le plus de candidats féminins, le plus de candidats universitaires et le plus de candidats ayant un handicap. Déjà, la grogne monte de la classe politique pour dénoncer cette formule qui, affirment certains concernés, favorisent les candidats pro-pouvoir.

Les critères fixés pour la distribution des 500 millions de gourdes aux partis, groupements et regroupements politiques engagés dans les élections pour le financement de la campagne, bien qu’inspirés du décret électoral en vigueur, posent problèmes. Certaines entités politiques ne partagent pas l’avis du Conseil électoral provisoire (CEP) et du gouvernement. Leaders et candidats dénoncent déjà cette méthode et y voient une ultime manœuvre du pouvoir pour fausser le cours des élections.

« Cela ne nous intéresse pas ! » C’est la réponse de Sauveur Pierre Étienne à la question de savoir si l’Organisation du peuple en lutte (OPL), son parti, est informé de la formule adoptée par le CEP et le gouvernement pour distribuer les fonds destinés au financement de la campagne électorale. Les manœuvres dilatoires qui s’opèrent à travers la distribution de ces fonds frustrent. Cet argent est un outil politique entre les mains du pouvoir, pour Sauveur Pierre Etienne, qui croit qu’en attribuant aussi tard ces fonds aux partis politiques, ceux-ci n’auront pas le temps de les utiliser, alors que les candidats proches du pouvoir utilisent les biens de l’État, en toute impunité et mènent campagne.

Cliquez ICI pour le texte original.

Increased Discrimination and Ad Hoc Deportations in the DR

July 22, 2015 - 13:51

Despite the Dominican government’s claims that it has not begun deporting illegal immigrants or natives born in the DR to foreign parents, interviews on the ground say otherwise. Human rights groups state that individuals are being left at the border, while others flee the country to escape growing xenophobia and violence. Additionally, IJDH staff attorney Nicole Phillips notes that the Dominican government’s flawed registration process may actually help identify unregistered individuals living in the DR. Tensions are high as August – when the Dominican government plans to start officially deporting people – looms closer and the fate of the island remains uncertain.

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

“Haitian Devil, Go to Your Country”

Joshua Keating, Slate

July 22, 2015

FOND PARISIEN, Haiti—André Joseph recalls that his crops were almost ready to harvest the night a group of men armed with guns attacked his home in Neiba, in the southwestern Dominican Republic, driving him and his family out into the fields. Life in Neiba wasn’t always easy for Joseph—he remembers waking up at 5 a.m. for 14-hour days in the fields—but 40 years after arriving in the Dominican Republic, he had built a life and a comfortable home for his wife and 15-year-old son. All that disappeared that night, about one month ago. After camping out at a neighboring farm, he appealed to the police to help him regain his home. Instead, they put him on a bus to Haiti, the country where he was born but hadn’t seen since he was 12 years old. “I lost 40 years of work just because I’m not Dominican,” he says.

I spoke with Joseph on a recent Friday afternoon in a converted schoolhouse in Fond Parisien, 8 miles from the Dominican border, where he is living with about 50 other recent arrivals in Haiti, including dozens of children born on the other side of the border. Conditions at the school are grim. A few of the residents have thin mattresses, but many sleep on the ground. On the day I visited, an infant slept wrapped in a dirty blanket on the schoolroom floor, and a woman hung laundry from cactus growing behind the schoolhouse. Local religious groups provide food, but some days there’s none available.

 Click HERE for the original article.

Why did the IOM remove deportations from its DR press release?

July 22, 2015 - 12:57

In a recent press release, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) investigated and found that 408 people has been deported from the Dominican Republic to Haiti. Following a statement from U.S. Special Coordinator for Haiti Thomas Adams which said that deportations hadn’t yet begun, the IOM replaced the press release with one that mentioned no deportations. Instead, the new release talked about “returns” to Haiti. This article investigates what may have motivated these changes.

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

Deportations from the Dominican Republic: The IOM Changes its Tune

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch, Center for Economic and Policy Research

July 22, 2015

On July 14, 2015, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released a statement regarding the situation on the Haiti-Dominican Republic border. The IOM interviewed some 1,133 individuals who had crossed the border between June 16 and July 3, finding that “408 persons (or 36.0 per cent) said that they had been deported by different entities, including the military, police, immigration officials and civilians.” These findings directly contradicted statements from the Dominican Republic and U.S. officials that no deportations had occurred.

However, within two days the press release was pulled from the IOM website and on July 21, IOM issued a new press release making no mention of deportations.

U.S. Special Coordinator for Haiti Thomas Adams, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 15, 2015, stated, “They — they [the Dominican Republic] have assured us that there will be no mass deportations and none have begun yet.” He added: “There were reports of others that when they investigated, they found out that they weren’t — they weren’t really deportees.” A day later the IOM press release had been pulled from the website.

Click HERE for the full text.

Elected Officials Speak Out: End the Silence

July 22, 2015 - 12:35

North Miami, Florida has the largest Haitian population in the U.S. This past week, the city’s elected officials called a press conference to voice their anger over the Dominican Republic’s actions and the Obama administration’s silence over the issue.  They emphasized the direct link between the ongoing crisis in the Dominican Republic and experiences in the States, as North Miami residents’ family and friends will likely be affected. The city council also unanimously approved a resolution to urge President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Kerry to publicly acknowledge the human rights abuses and to utilize political and economic leverage to remedy the situation.

Click here for the original article and a video.

North Miami city council condemns Dominican Republic

Janey Tate, The Miami Times

July 22, 2015

North Miami elected officials are calling out the Dominican Republic for the act of approving a law that will make citizens of Haitian descent be deported if they cannot prove their Dominican ethnicity. The city council is also calling out the Obama Administration for keeping silent on the matter they call a human rights issue.

The charge, led by councilman Alix Desulme, is to bring attention to matter happening on the island nation, where the councilman and many of North Miami residents have family and friends who will be affected.

On Thursday morning, July 16, Mayor Smith Joseph, Vice Mayor Carol Keys, and council members Scott Galvin, Phillipe Bien-Aime, and Desulme, held a press conference on the plaza in front of the Museum Of Contemporary Art to speak on the issue.

Click here for the original article and a video.

IJDH Webinar on Elections in Haiti

July 21, 2015 - 20:59

BAI and IJDH work to protect the right of Haitians to select their government through fair elections. A key aspect of that work is ensuring that the international community has credible information about Haiti’s political situation. In our July 21 web conference, Jacqueline Charles, Jake Johnston, and Wesley Lainé analyzed the key issues currently being discussed in Haitian and international media. Afterwards, we answered participants’ questions. Below is the outline for the webinar.

Click HERE for the full text.

IJDH Webinar on Elections in Haiti

July 21, 2015

-Jake Johnston, Research Associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, provides background on elections in Haiti, focusing on how the 2010 elections set the stage for the current crisis.

-Jacqueline Charles, Caribbean Correspondent of Miami Herald, discusses the main issues in the current elections, and the challenges she faces in reporting on elections.

-Wesley Lainé, IJDH Legal Intern, analyzes the décharge issue which has disqualified a few candidates. This includes the controversial disqualification of Jacky Lumarque, former coordinator of a presidential commission on education.

-Question and Answer Session


Click HERE for the full text.

IJDH Legal Intern Analyzes Dominican Republic Crisis

July 21, 2015 - 14:22

What is going on at the Haiti-Dominican Republic border and why is it such a big deal? In this interview, Rodline Louijeune, an Ella Baker Legal Intern at IJDH, discusses what she witnessed in a delegation to the border at the end of June. She also explains why, despite many arguments to the contrary, forced expulsions and retroactively stripping citizenship from hundreds of thousands of people are both illegal.

BNN News Interviews Rodline Louijeune, IJDH

BNN News

July 21, 2015

Click HERE for the original recording.

New documents show, Red Cross doesn’t know where half billion dollars of Haiti aid were spent

July 21, 2015 - 13:04

In new internal Red Cross documents released by ProPublica and NPR on their continued investigation into the spending of post-quake aid, lack of oversight and slow response are outlined as main contributors to why the Red Cross is unaware of where the nearly $500 million has gone. Of the half a billion dollars raised, a large portion was passed on to other groups contributing to aid in Haiti. However, the Red Cross kept almost no oversight of these groups, at least one of which has been proven to have mismanaged funding. Due to a lack of assessment of the effectiveness of projects and poor management from American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C., the spending has not been tracked, leaving everyone to wonder where the donations have gone.

Confidential Documents: Red Cross Itself May Not Know How Millions Donated for Haiti were spent

Justin Elliot, ProPublica, and Laura Sullivan, NPR

July 21, 2015

The American Red Cross is under pressure this week to answer detailed questions from Congress about the spending of nearly half a billion dollars it raised after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

But internal documents newly obtained by ProPublica and NPR call into question whether the Red Cross itself has an accurate accounting of how money was spent.

The reports, assessments from 2012 of some of the group’s health and water projects, conclude that the charity failed to properly track its own spending, oversee projects, or even know whether or not they were successful. The documents also cast doubt on the accuracy of the Red Cross’ public claims about how many Haitians the group has helped.

An internal evaluation of one of the group’s water and sanitation projects found there was “no correct process for monitoring project spending.”

Another report concluded that the Red Cross’ figures on the number of people helped in a hygiene promotion project were “fairly meaningless.”

The findings parallel ProPublica and NPR’s earlier reporting about the Red Cross’ troubled Haiti program. The group has so far not given details of how it spent the almost $500 million in donations for Haiti.

Asked about the internal reports and what the Red Cross did in response to the concerns they raised, spokesperson Suzy DeFrancis said in an email that the group would no longer respond to questions from ProPublica and NPR. (Read the email.)

The consultant who wrote one of the evaluations, Bonnie Kittle, told us the Red Cross followed up by hiring her to train staff in Haiti how to work more effectively.

Click HERE for the full article.