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Dominican Republic’s Mass Deportations May Set Dangerous Precedent

June 17, 2015 - 11:06

In September 2013, a Dominican Republic (DR) Constitutional Court issued a ruling that rendered hundreds of thousands of immigrant’s descendants stateless. The largest population affected by this ruling is people of Haitian descent, who have had a tumultuous history with the DR to begin with. Now, Dominican politicians are threatening to deport those who missed a recent registration deadline that many found nearly impossible to meet. Well-known Haitian author Edwidge Danticat explains the difficult history between Haiti and DR and why this current situation is so important to anyone who cares about human rights.

A partial transcript is below. Click HERE for the full text and video of the report.

The Dominican Republic’s “Ethnic Purging”: Edwidge Danticat on Mass Deportation of Haitian Families

Democracy Now!

June 17, 2015

The Dominican Republic is set to begin what some are calling “ethnic purging,” placing the fate of hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent into limbo. Half a million legally stateless people could be sent to Haiti this week, including those who have never stepped foot in Haiti and don’t speak the language. In 2013, a Dominican constitutional court ruling stripped the citizenship of children born to Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic as far back as 1929, retroactively leaving tens of thousands without citizenship. Today marks the deadline for undocumented workers to register their presence in the Dominican Republic or risk mass deportation. However, only 300 of the 250,000 Dominican Haitians applying for permits have reportedly received them. Many have actively resisted registering as foreigners, saying they are Dominican by birth and deserve full rights. Dominican authorities have apparently organized a fleet of buses and set up processing centers on the border with Haiti, creating widespread fears of mass roundups. The Dominican Republic’s decision to denationalize hundreds of thousands of people has sparked international outcry. We are joined by the acclaimed Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat.

Click HERE for the full text and video of the report.

Les Nations Unies exhortées à satisfaire à leurs obligations légales au regard des victimes haïtiennes du choléra

June 17, 2015 - 09:36

Communiqué de Presse:

Les Nations Unies exhortées à satisfaire à leurs obligations légales au regard des victimes haïtiennes du choléra

Les Nations Unies condamnées pour leur refus de respecter le droit international 

Le 17 juin 2015—Une multitude d’experts, dont des intellectuels, des avocats en droits de l’homme, des dirigeants de la diaspora haïtienne aux Etats-Unis et d’anciens représentants des Nations Unies à travers le monde ont déposé six dossiers juridiques hier devant la Cour d’Appel de New York, afin de manifester leur opposition à la tentative des Nations Unies d’élargir leur immunité devant les tribunaux américains. Les dossiers, connus sous le nom d’amicus curiae (amis de la Cour), ont été déposés devant le Second Circuit Court of Appeals, à New York, à l’appui du dossier principal qui a été déposé la semaine dernière par les avocats des victimes haïtiennes du choléra. Les victimes demandent justice pour l’épidémie de choléra qui a été introduite en Haïti après que les systèmes défectueux de latrines et d’évacuation des eaux usées des soldats onusiens ont communiqué avec la rivière Artibonite. Depuis 2010, l’épidémie aurait fait au moins 9000 victimes. 700 000 personnes auraient été contaminées.

Dans le dossier déposé par onze associations représentant la diaspora haïtienne, celles-ci expriment le sentiment d’indignation éprouvé par les Haïtiens à l’étranger et en Haïti face à la stratégie des Nations Unies, qui invoque son immunité tandis que des milliers d’haïtiens succombent à l’épidémie. « Le fait de doter les Nations Unies de l’immunité dans ce litige récompense l’organisation pour avoir refusé de respecter ses obligations et avoir agi de mauvaise foi » s’indigne Emmanuel Coffy, Av., qui représente les associations de la diaspora haïtienne. Soeurette Michel, membre de l’Association des Avocats Haïtiens et de la Coalition de la Base des Haïtiens-Américains, affirme que « les faits sont incontestables, les lois sont claires, et ce que nous voulons, c’est que les lois soient appliquées correctement aux faits pour que les victimes et leurs familles aient un recours légal. » Me Marleine Bastien, membre de l’Association des Femmes Haïtiennes de Miami, a affirmé que « les Haïtiens sont déterminés à lutter jusqu’au bout pour faire reconnaître la responsabilité des Nations Unies. Nous ne nous arrêterons que lorsque l’épidémie causée par les Nations Unies cessera de tuer injustement des Haïtiens. »

Le dossier déposé par les six anciens responsables des Nations Unies explique que la réaction injuste de l’organisation à l’épidémie de choléra a engendré une crise de responsabilité et de transparence qui menace la légitimité, la crédibilité et la capacité des Nations Unies à remplir leur mission. « Les Nations Unies considèrent la lutte des victimes haïtiennes du choléra comme une menace, » affirme Stephen Lewis, ancien directeur adjoint de l’UNICEF et actuellement co-directeur de Aids Free World, qui a signé le dossier. « Mais les Nations Unies peuvent mettre un terme à ces poursuites si elles établissent une commission de recours. La vraie menace contre les Nations Unies est son refus, peu judicieux, de respecter ses propres principes. »

Un dossier déposé par vingt-quatre associations de droits civiques et de droits de l’homme, représentant treize pays différents, explique que les Nations Unies ont été créées par le droit international et qu’elles doivent s’y soumettre. Ainsi, l’organisation ne peut pas légalement se soustraire à sa responsabilité envers les victimes du choléra, auxquelles elle se doit d’offrir un recours alternatif afin de remédier à leurs souffrances. « Les Nations Unies devraient témoigner de leur engagement envers la prééminence de l’Etat de droit au niveau international en obéissant à ses préceptes » soutient Kerry Kennedy, présidente du Centre des Droits de l’Homme de Robert F. Kennedy, qui a aussi signé le dossier. « Il est temps que les Nations Unies satisfassent à leurs obligations face au peuple haïtien, qui a tant souffert. »

Un dossier déposé par vingt-deux intellectuels et avocats de droit international affirme que les revendications des victimes du choléra relèvent du droit privé, un domaine dans lequel les Nations Unies ont reconnu l’obligation de fournir un recours. Le dossier explique pourquoi ce procès ne relève pas du principe de la « nécessité opérationnelle », qui constitue une exception à cette obligation. Le dossier mentionne « des décennies de déclarations de l’organisation et de pratiques institutionnelles qui confirment que les Nations Unies sont obligées de fournir un recours alternatif pour des demandes telles que celles déposées par les plaignants. »

Seize experts en droit européen soulignent dans leur dossier que les Cours européennes mettent en balance la question de l’immunité d’organisations internationales telles que les Nations Unies et le droit fondamental des victimes à un un recours contre de les abus. Selon Kristen Thelin, juge ad hoc de la Cour Européenne des Droits de l’Homme, ancienne juge du Tribunal pénal international pour l’ex-Yougoslavie et membre du comité des droits de l’homme des Nations Unies, « en Europe, l’immunité des Nations Unies est très importante, mais elle n’est pas illimitée. Les Cours requièrent que les Nations Unies et les autres organisations mettent à disposition des individus affectés un recours alternatif. La raison est très évidente : l’absence d’un recours sape le rôle des Nations Unies comme champion des droits de l’homme. »

Six éminents professeurs de droit constitutionnel aux Etats-Unis ont rédigé un mémoire dans lequel ils expliquent que l’application de l’immunité souveraine dans ce procès, sans justification, constitue une violation du droit du plaignant d’avoir accès au tribunal. Un de ces experts, Erwin Chemerinsky, doyen de l’école de droit de l’Université de Californie Irvine, a soutenu qu’« avoir accès au tribunal est un aspect fondamental du droit à une procédure équitable. Dans ce procès, il s’agit de savoir si ceux qui sont décédés et ceux qui ont souffert à cause de l’épidémie de choléra en Haïti ont le droit d’être entendus devant un tribunal de droit. Il est essentiel que la Cour fasse respecter et fasse valoir cette liberté fondamentale. »

Ces dossiers, dits amicus curiae, rassemblent des personnes et  des associations, dont des experts en droits de l’homme, des membres du Congrès américain, des membres de comités éditoriaux, et des organismes juridiques, qui ont exhorté les Nations Unies à faire face à leur responsabilité vis-à-vis l’épidémie de choléra en Haïti. Les Nations Unies, pour leur part, ne contestent pas qu’elles soient responsables de l’introduction du choléra en Haïti ou qu’elles aient une responsabilité envers les victimes. En revanche, elles affirment qu’aucune Cour ne peut les forcer à respecter leurs obligations, parce qu’ellent bénéficient de l’immunité. De plus, les Nations Unies prétendent faire leur maximum pour lutter contre l’épidémie. Le plan de l’ONU pour éradiquer le choléra, introduit en 2012, n’a été financé qu’à 9%.

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Click HERE for the English version.

Cholera Update: 86 International Experts Demand Justice

June 16, 2015 - 15:00

Since 2011, BAI and IJDH have fought for justice for the victims of the cholera epidemic caused by the United Nations in 2010. Since then, the United Nations has hid behind its diplomatic immunity in order to dodge accountability for the epidemic. At the same time, the network of people demanding justice has grown. Most recently, 86 former UN officials; international, Constitutional and European law scholars; Haitian-American leaders and human rights organizations joined in the fight for justice by signing on to six briefs explaining why UN immunity  should not apply in this case. Two of our new Legal Interns wrote an article about this development.

Click HERE for the full text.

International experts join Cholera victims’ fight for justice

Rodline Louijeune and Mark Phillips, Boston Haitian Reporter

June 16, 2015

Haiti’s cholera victims have taken another important step toward justice with respect to the deadly epidemic caused by the United Nations (UN). On May 27, the victims filed their legal brief in an appeal of an earlier court decision dismissing their claims against the UN. On June 3, 86 organizations and experts filed an additional six briefs supporting the victims’ appeal.

Since the victims’ claims for remedies were first filed against the UN in 2011, the UN has steadfastly refused to acknowledge any forum in which the claims can be heard. The UN summarily rejected the claims filed within its own system, and refuses to accept the jurisdiction of any court outside its system. This latest appeal represents a bold attempt to break down the barrier to justice that the UN has tried to build around itself.

The victims’ brief was filed by lawyers at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) in South Boston. It explained that the UN received immunity only after it promised to allow people harmed by its operations to pursue claims through its own procedures. The brief argued that the UN should not be allowed to enjoy immunity in U.S. courts when it refuses to honor its promise to accept claims in its internal procedures. This latest appeal is designed to force the UN to own up to its responsibility, and be held to the same standards of respect for human rights and for the rule of law that it claims to represent.

Click HERE for the full text.

Hundreds of Thousands of Migrant Workers Face Deportation from DR

June 16, 2015 - 14:15

After a 2013 ruling left hundreds of thousands stateless, the Dominican Republic (DR) faced an international outcry. Now, DR threatens to deport countless workers who have failed to meet arbitrary registration requirements. Other nations’ desires to deal freely with their own migrant workers have muted international opposition to this human rights violation and there is an additional concern here: Both Dominicans of Haitian descent and those who have met the deadline may be caught in the fray due to racial profiling.

Migrant Workers in Dominican Republic, Most of Them Haitian, Face Deportation

Azam Ahmed, The New York Times

June 16, 2015

MEXICO CITY — Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are facing deportation from the Dominican Republic, the latest in a series of actions by the government that has cast a light on the long-troubled relationship with its Haitian neighbors.

Undocumented workers in the Dominican Republic have until Wednesday to register their presence in the country, in the hope of being allowed to stay.

The government has said that nearly 240,000 migrant workers born outside the Dominican Republic have started the registration process. But there are an estimated 524,000 foreign-born migrant workers in the country — about 90 percent of whom are Haitian, according to a 2012survey — leaving a huge population of migrants at risk of deportation.

Human rights groups had hoped the government would delay the registration deadline, given the difficulties faced by many in producing documents and satisfying bureaucratic requirements. But there were no indications that the authorities would stall their plan to begin ejecting the workers, about half of whom had failed to register, according to figures circulated by the Dominican government.

“The signals are clear,” said Beneco Enecia, the director of Cedeso, a nonprofit group that works with migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent. “The Dominican government is setting up logistics, placing vehicles and personnel to start the process of repatriation.”

Haitian workers, who have crossed the border for generations to cut sugar cane, clean homes and babysit, have long experienced an uneasy coexistence with their wealthier Dominican neighbors. It is a relationship fraught with resentment, racial tension and the long shadow of the massacre of tens of thousands of Haitian laborers ordered by the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo in 1937.

Dominican officials have long said that they have borne the brunt of Haiti’s economic troubles, both before and after the 2010 earthquake that devastated their neighbor and sent a stream of people fleeing across the border.

The tensions peaked in 2013, when a constitutional court moved to strip the citizenship of children born to Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic dating as far back as 1929. Many of the people affected by the ruling had lived their whole lives in the Dominican Republic and knew nothing of Haiti, not even the language.

International outcry prompted the government to soften its stancesomewhat with a law the next year. It promised citizenship to children whose births were registered in the nation’s civil registry, and a chance at nationalization for those not formally registered.

Advocates and international legal bodies said it still fell short. Anything less than full citizenship left these people stateless, belonging neither to their birthplace nor their family’s homeland, they argued. But that group does not appear to be the target of the deportations, at least not directly.

Andrés Navarro García, the Dominican minister of foreign relations, told reporters on a trip to Spain that the majority of those subject to deportation had already started the registration process and would not be deported.

For those who do not enter the process, Mr. Navarro said, there will be no mass roundups to deport people and the protocol is still being worked out. Instead, the government will handle each case individually and work in conjunction with the Haitian government for an orderly transfer of citizens.

Responding to questions from other regional leaders, however, Mr. Navarro asserted the position his government has taken in the past: that the Dominican Republic, as a sovereign nation, has the right to determine its own immigration policy without the interference of other states.

The migrant workers who have registered so far have been granted a 45-day grace period during which they can complete the process. Migrants are expected to produced a signed work permit from employers, who can be reluctant to provide such documentation.

The deportations, which could begin in the coming days, have generated a more muted response from other countries when compared with the uproar stirred by the 2013 court ruling, which essentially ordered the mass denationalization of as many as 200,000 Dominican-born children.

One reason for the relative diplomatic silence, including from the United States, is the troubled relationship many countries have with migrant workers who enter their borders illegally seeking employment, advocates argued.

“Migrant deportation is something states don’t want to get into because they themselves want to continue to do such deportations,” said Liliana Gamboa, who coordinates an anti-discrimination project for the Open Society Foundations in the Dominican Republic. “I don’t know how much pushback there can be from other states.”

Still, to the extent that deportations occur on a large scale, there is a fear that they will also ensnare people who are trying to comply with the law — whether they are children born in the Dominican Republic to migrant workers, or migrant workers who are trying to satisfy the paperwork requirements.

Some advocates worry that the mechanism to identify potential deportees will be to target any dark-skinned people suspected of Haitian descent, whether they have papers or not.

“There are no adequate screening mechanisms,” said Angelita K. Baeyens, the programs director at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

Efforts to process children born in the Dominican Republic whose parents never formally registered them have fallen short. Fewer than 9,000 of an estimated population of tens of thousands have registered themselves as foreigners, as required by the law, a process that in theory puts them on a path to naturalization.

The status of these children is unclear, potentially leaving them vulnerable to deportation as well.

“If these massive deportations occur, will they include by mistake people who were born in the Dominican Republic?” Ms. Gamboa said. “Will they follow the standards of international law? Will Haiti be able to receive this number of deportees? And what would their status be in Haiti?”

Others have raised questions about the impact on the Dominican economy. For generations, Haitians have assumed the jobs that many Dominicans do not want, filling a vital part of the labor market, often at below market rates. Businesses, some experts say, could see their production costs rise if a large chunk of the labor force is removed.

But that remains a distant threat. For now, activists like Mr. Enecia of Cedeso say that many are resigned to their deportation.

“The criteria is based on racial discrimination,” he said. “Fear, desperation and anguish are the expressions of the people. They feel helpless.”

 

Click HERE for the original article.

DR Threatens to Deport Dominicans of Haitian Descent

June 16, 2015 - 13:22

In September 2013, the Dominican Republic issued a ruling that left hundreds of thousands of Haitian descent stateless. After pressure from international and human rights groups and citizens of both countries, DR began a regularization plan but promised to deport those who missed the deadline after 7pm June 17th. With military personnel in DR “gearing up,” many fear that DR will make good on that promise.

Click HERE for the original post and recording.

Deadline Looms For Haitians In The Dominican Republic

Here & Now on WBUR

June 16, 2015

The Dominican government says that after 7 p.m. tomorrow, anyone who can’t show papers proving they’re in the country legally will be subject to expulsion. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians and people of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic have been scrambling to abide.

The deportation threat has sparked international protests, including a “Black Lives Matter in the Dominican Republic” rally in New York yesterday. Part of the outrage stems from concern that the deportees will include people born in the country, who had once believed they were Dominican citizens.

Cassandre Theano of the Open Society Justice Initiative in New York discusses the situation with Here & Now’s Robin Young.

Click HERE for the original post and recording.

Migrants and Dominicans of Haitian Descent at Risk of Deportation

June 15, 2015 - 09:04

In September 2013, the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court issued a ruling that redefined its conditions for citizenship, putting Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent at risk of deportation and statelessness. A research team at Johns Hopkins University recently released a report about the potential effects of the Dominican government’s actions and its problematic implementation. It also includes policy recommendations to address immigration and citizenship issues amidst the tense historical relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and the “unfavorable” political climate on the ground. The report is the product of an academic yearlong experiential learning course in the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

Click HERE for the full document.

Justice Derailed: The Uncertain Fate of Haitian Migrants and Dominicans of Haitian Descent in the Dominican Republic

International Human Rights Clinic, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

June 2015

Executive SummaryOver time, the Dominican Republic formalized a more restrictive definition of citizenship by birth. By expanding the interpretation of what it means to be “in transit,” the Dominican Republic began to chip away at its jus soli (right of soil) regime. Given the long history of migration from Haiti to the Dominican Republic and demographic realities, this shift has had a disproportionate impact on individuals of Haitian descent. The redefinition of the jus soli basis for citizenship reached its peak in the now infamous sentence of the Constitutional Tribunal of the Dominican Republic, 168-13. In September 2013, the Constitutional Tribunal issued Sentence 168-13, which retroactively denationalized and effectively rendered stateless many Dominicans of Haitian descent by establishing that children born in the Dominican Republic to those illegally residing in the country were not entitled to citizenship by birth, as their parents were considered to be “in transit.” The Sentence further called for a national regularization plan.In an effort to implement Sentence 168-13, the Dominican government established the National Plan for the Regularization of Foreigners (PNRE). The PNRE is a plan to regularize the status of undocumented migrants in the Dominican Republic, which most notably impacts Haitian migrants. To be clear the PNRE provides a pathway to regularization for undocumented migrants, it does not provide an adequate avenue for those Dominican nationals rendered stateless by Sentence 168-13. Following international backlash over Sentence 168-13, Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina issued Law 169-14 (Naturalization Law), which provides a pathway to naturalization for those effectively left stateless by the Sentence.As will be detailed in this Report, although attempts to regularize undocumented migrants and remedy the fallout from Sentence 168-13 for Dominican nationals are commendable, the implementation of the PNRE and the Naturalization Law was problematic in many respects. Both the PNRE and the Naturalization Law suffered from insufficient capacity, inadequate timeframes, and poor publicity, amongst other factors.This Report will also detail how various actors were involved in or impacted by the regularization and naturalization processes, including intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, civil society, as well as several important bilateral relationships with the Dominican Republic. Moreover, this Report will discuss the role that these actors could play moving forward.Undoubtedly, states have the sovereign right to determine the criteria for citizenship, but they must do so consistently with international human rights law, including, inter alia, the right to nationality and prohibitions on racial discrimination. This Report will discuss the Dominican Republic’s responsibilities under international human rights law.Finally, this Report will outline the constraints that may inhibit the work of policy makers and human rights defenders in addressing immigration and citizenship issues. The plight of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic is complicated by a history of anti-Haitianism, an unfavorable domestic political climate, and a nascent human rights culture.With the deadline to apply under the Naturalization Law expired and the deadline for the PNRE quickly approaching, the fate of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent still remains uncertain. Along with the PNRE deadline comes the expiration of the moratorium on deportations. As such, there is concern about Haitian migrants being deported and Dominicans of Haitian descent being expulsed without adequate due process. Consequently, the situation on the ground merits close monitoring and human rights driven solutions.…Click HERE for the full document.

Final List of Haiti Presidential Candidates

June 12, 2015 - 14:47

While about 70 people registered for Haiti’s presidential race, many of them were contested because they hadn’t obtained the clearance (décharge) needed by Parliament, before Parliament became inactive in January 2015. Now, the highly-anticipated list of accepted candidates has been released, excluding the most famous of those who hadn’t received a décharge, former Prime Minister Lamothe.

Haiti Releases Final List of Presidential Candidates

Associated Press, ABC News

June 12, 2015

Haiti’s electoral council has released a final list of presidential candidates allowed to participate in the upcoming general elections.

Officials released the list of 58 names on Friday after rejecting 13 candidates.

Excluded from the list is former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. A judicial panel previously ruled that he failed to receive a government document certifying that he handled public funds appropriately while prime minister from 2012 until late 2014.

Haiti is expected to hold local elections in August followed by the first round of presidential elections in October and a final round in December.

Click HERE for the original post.

Deportations from the Dominican Republic Set to Begin Soon

June 12, 2015 - 11:09

Between 100,000-500,000, and perhaps more, Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent are at imminent risk of deportation from the Dominican Republic. In September 2013, the Dominican government determined that children born to undocumented parents lacked formal Dominican citizenship, disproportionately affecting the large Haitian migrant population and their offspring. Since then, a moratorium has delayed deportations, but its impending expiration in the next few days would render hundreds of thousands of individuals stateless.

Click HERE for the full article.

We Regret to Inform You That in 4 Days You and Your Family Will Be Deported to Haiti

Greg Grandin, The Nation

June 12, 2015

Last week, I wrote that the Dominican Republic has summarily stripped over a hundred thousand Dominicans born in the DR of Haitian parents of their citizenship and is threatening to deport them to Haiti. And though initial reports suggested that the deadline for deportation might be delayed, it now seems to be going forward as planned: In four days, hundreds of thousands of people in the Western Hemisphere will become stateless.

Where is the US press? Why aren’t they covering it? And why the silence from human-rights groups? The main page of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch has three posts on Venezuela. Nothing on the Dominican Republic. HRW’s director Ken Roth is a prolific voice on Twitter—yet nothing on the topic since November 11, 2014 (but do a Twitter search for @KenRoth and Venezuela and bathe in the stream).

Click HERE for the full article.

Haitian Journalists Demand an Answer from the Red Cross

June 12, 2015 - 10:02

At a recent press conference held by the American Red Cross in response to allegations of misspending of Haitian relief funds, Haitian journalists made their criticism and discontent well known. Following a series of unsatisfactory answers by a Red Cross representative, the journalists began speaking over the official in order to demand where the half a billion dollars raised for post-earthquake relief have been spent. Despite the statistics provided by the Red Cross itself, it is still uncertain where the relief money was used.

American Red Cross Press Conference in Haiti Gets Heated

Laura Sullivan, NPR

June 12, 2015

 

Haitian journalists pressed an official from the American Red Cross to explain how the charity spent almost half a billion dollars in the country — but got few answers at a press conference this week at the Le Plaza Hotel in downtown Port-au-Prince.

Frustrated journalists began talking over the official, Walker Dauphin, after he appeared to avoid providing details explaining where the money went, according to a video of the gathering.

The press conference was a response to NPR’s investigation with ProPublica into the charity — which found repeated failures on the organization’s part to deliver on promises to help the country rebuild. The charity has so far declined to provide information on what programs it ran, how much they cost or what their expenses were. Many of the statistics the charity has offered about its work have been refuted by Haitian officials and by the Red Cross’ own records.

This is an excerpt. Click HERE for the full text.

 

Haiti’s Elections Highlight Drastic Female Underrepresentation

June 12, 2015 - 06:06

As the Haitian elections cycle continues, the list of more than 1,800 candidates is subject to criticism. Currently, females  comprise approximately 8% of all candidates in the legislative elections: only 151 women as of May 29th. However, the Haitian constitution requires political parties to meet a 30% quota for female candidates, highlighting a gap between Haitian political policies and practice.

Click HERE for the full article.

Despite Mandatory Quotas, Women are Exceedingly Underrepresented among 2015 Electoral Candidates

Kasia Mika, The Haiti Elections blog

June 12, 2015

No matter how many times you count it, the numbers just don’t add up. Out of 1809 candidates registered for the legislative elections, as of the 29th of May, there are only 151 women. That is just over 8% of all standing candidates. Out of 70 candidates for the presidential elections, only 6 of them are women; that is approximately 9%.  However, both the Haitian Constitution (Article 17.1) and the Electoral Decree (Article 100.1) set a quota of female participation at 30%. The clash between legislative directives and the political reality could not be any more indicative: the existing legislative framework is not enough to combat female under-representation in the political sphere.

Click HERE for the full article.

86 Prominent Groups and Individuals Demand Cholera Accountability

June 12, 2015 - 06:00

United Nations peacekeepers caused a deadly cholera outbreak in Haiti in October 2010 but despite about 9,000 deaths and over 700,000 ill, they have yet to be held accountable. At the end of May, cholera victims and their lawyers filed an appeal in their case against the UN seeking accountability for the epidemic. The following week, 86 prominent Haitian American leaders, legal and international scholars and human rights organizations signed six briefs in support of the appeal. These briefs make strong arguments demanding UN accountability and a day in court for cholera victims.

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

Powerful Legal Coalition Says Haitians Should Be Able to Sue UN for Cholera Outbreak

Alex Smith, RYOT

June 12, 2015

It’s been over five years since the people of Haiti were rocked by an earthquake that killed nearly 400,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless. One of the biggest tragedies of the disaster has been the outbreak of cholera. The epidemic has left 8,900 people dead and nearly 730,000 infected with the illness.

The US Center for Disease Control linked the start of the outbreak to a group of United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal, who brought the deadly strain of cholera to Haiti when they dumped raw sewage near a major river.

For years lawyers were seeking compensation for the peacekeepers’ damages but five months ago a judge ruled that Haitians couldn’t sue the UN. He said the UN had legal immunity that only the UN itself could waive.

Click HERE for the full text.

How Can Peacekeeper Impunity for Assault Be Ended?

June 11, 2015 - 08:19

IJDH Executive Director Brian Concannon and AIDS-Free World co-Director Paula Donovan discuss the allegations of sexual abuse by United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti and other countries around the world. Often, victims feel safer not reporting abuse because the perpetrators are rarely punished. Concannon and Donovan suggest some ways to end this culture of impunity.

Part of the interview transcript is below. Click HERE for the video and full transcript.

UN Peacekeepers in Haiti Force Girls to Trade Sex for Food, Medicine

The Real News Network

June 11, 2015

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.A report conducted by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services reveals that since 2004 UN peacekeepers in Haiti sexually abused more than 225 women and girls in exchange for food and medicine. But now that we know it happened and is potentially still happening, what is the UN going to do about it, and will these victims ever see justice?Now joining us to get into all o f this are our two guests, both joining us from Boston. We have Brian Concannon. He is the executive director and founder of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. And also joining us is Paula Donovan. She’s the co-founder and co-director of Code Blue, a campaign to end sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeeping personnel.Thank you both for joining us.

PAULA DONOVAN, CO-DIRECTOR, AIDS-FREE WORLD: Thank you.

BRIAN CONCANNON, EXEC. DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE AND DEMOCRACY IN HAITI: Thank you, Jessica. It’s good to be with you.

DESVARIEUX: Good to have you guys both on. So Paula, let’s start off with you. First, describe for our viewers what kind of details are emerging from this report? How did these transactional relations take place in Haiti?DONOVAN: It seems as though this is a draft report, and so the UN hasn’t quite finished tooling around with it. But it’s a report about a survey that was conducted among 231 Haitian women, or 229 Haitian women, two men. And they were asked whether they had–sorry, they had all had transactional sex with UN peacekeepers in exchange for food and other favors, or basically entitlements.

DESVARIEUX: So Brian, you’re an attorney with experience working for the UN. What accountability structures does the UN have in place for cases like this one? Does the UN reprimand these peacekeepers? And more importantly, what current structures exist for these sexually abused women and girls to find justice?

CONCANNON: Sure. In terms of punishing the perpetrators, sometimes they’re sent home. It’s rare, but sometimes they’re sent home. And even rarely in the most egregious cases they are slapped on the wrist. One example is a couple years ago, there was rape of an underaged girl and the perpetrators were sentenced to two years.In terms of mechanisms for the victims themselves, there really is nothing practical. On paper there’s a system where people can file complaints, but it is really designed to keep people from effectively filing complaints. I don’t know of a single case where a sexual abuse victim has been able to get any justice by following the UN’s procedures. And in many other cases, for example we’re working on a claim of victims of the cholera that the UN brought to Haiti. The UN just refuses to take those claims even though they’re filed consistently with their own system.

Click HERE for the video and full transcript.

UN Peacekeepers Engage in Transactional Sex with Haitian Women

June 11, 2015 - 05:38

A new report recently obtained by the Associated Press includes interviews with over 200 Haitian women who engaged in transactional sex with peacekeepers in order to obtain basic necessities like food and medication. The report mentioned confusion among peacekeepers about the rules against sexual relations with local people, and even resistance to those rules. IJDH Staff Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom is quoted in this article.

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

UN Peacekeepers Reportedly Exchanged ‘Televisions, Perfume and Fancy Underwear’ For Sex

Samuel Oakford, VICE News

June 11, 2015

United Nations peacekeepers had “transactional sex” with more than 200 Haitian women, according to the organization’s watchdog, which is warning sexual exploitation at UN missions remains underreported.

A report by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), first obtained by the Associated Press, contains findings based on interviews with 231 Haitians around a year ago who said they had “transactional sexual relationships with MINUSTAH personnel for various reasons.” MINUSTAH is the UN mission in Haiti, where it has been deployed since 2004.

Investigators went to Haiti to examine the persistence of UN sexual exploitation more than a decade after abuses by peacekeepers were first revealed in a landmark investigation known as the Zeid Report.

Women in rural areas cited “hunger, lack of shelter, baby care items, medication and household items,” as the “triggered need” that led them to engage in transactional relationships with peacekeepers. Women in urban and suburban areas, said the report, cited cash payments, “jewellery, ‘church’ shoes, dresses, fancy underwear, perfume, cell phones, radios, televisions, and in a few cases, laptops,” as items that were exchanged for sex.

Click HERE for the full text.

 

Why so much sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers?

June 10, 2015 - 14:42

In recent months, the United Nations has come under fire more frequently for reports of sexual abuse and exploitation committed by peacekeepers. AIDS-Free World has begun the Code Blue campaign to fight the culture of impunity that has allowed this to happen so frequently. Below is an interview with one of the campaign organizers, Paula Donovan.

Click HERE for the full text.

When Peacekeepers Rape

Pooja Bhatia, Ozy

June 10, 2015

In principle, the United Nations is a benevolent body, devoted to peace, human rights and championing the vulnerable. The reality is different, according to Paula Donovan, who is engaged in a high-profile fight against peacekeeper sexual abuse and exploitation. In recent weeks, the organization she co-directs, AIDS-Free World, has leaked documents that suggest that the United Nations has sorely failed to live up to its policy of “zero tolerance” for peacekeeper abuse. In March, it leaked an expert report, commissioned in 2013, that described the U.N.’s widespread failure to report peacekeeper abuse and warned that it could be “the most significant risk to U.N. peacekeeping operations.” And last month, AIDS-Free World leaked internal reports describing the rape of young boys in the Central African Republic by French peacekeepers. The U.N. official who reported the allegations has been suspended.

Donovan spoke to OZY just before launching a campaign against abuse, Code Blue. An edited version of our conversation follows.

OZY:

Why didn’t U.N. leadership make its expert report on sexual abuse public?

Paula Donovan:

I don’t know. One possibility is that the secretary-general didn’t know about it —

Click HERE for the full text.

New Report on Prolific Sexual Abuse by Peacekeepers in Haiti

June 10, 2015 - 07:31

More information has come out about UN peacekeepers sexually abusing those they are meant to serve, this time in Haiti. A new report by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services includes interviews with 231 people who were allegedly forced to perform sexual acts in exchange for basic needs like medication and food. The report’s official release is expected this month.

Read more about this below. Click HERE for the full text.

UN peacekeepers sexually abused hundreds of Haitian women & girls – report

RT News

June 10, 2015

UN peacekeepers deployed in Haiti engaged in “transactional” sexual relationships for food and medicine with over 200 women and underage girls, a draft report seen by the Associated Press suggests, noting that many cases of abuse remain underreported.

According to a new UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report obtained by the news agency, a third of alleged sexual exploitation and abuse involved minors under 18.

The shocking conclusions were revealed after investigators interviewed 231 people in Haiti who claimed they were forced to perform sexual acts with UN peacekeepers in exchange for basic necessities.

“For rural women, hunger, lack of shelter, baby care items, medication and household items were frequently cited as the ‘triggering need,'” the report says. Those living in the city or in its vicinity had sex in exchange for “church shoes, cell phones, laptops and perfume, as well as money,” report says.

Click HERE for the full text.

Five years after the earthquake, has Haiti received its promised relief?

June 8, 2015 - 00:47

Five years after the destructive January 20, 2010 earthquake near Port-au-Prince, few of the relief efforts promised by independent states, organizations, and the United Nations have been delivered. Despite the billions of dollars pledged in aid, little of that money has been disbursed, and post-disaster relief has been minimal. Much of the relief has been and continues to be centered on the political and individual gain of countries providing aid.

Is there justice for Haiti?

Ruth-Anne Seburn, Winnipeg Free Press

June 8, 2015

 

In the never-ending news cycle, it’s easy to forget about disasters and crises after they’ve disappeared from the headlines. Haiti and the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in 2010 is a prime example.

The Mennonite Central Committee, an international peace, relief and development organization with headquarters in Winnipeg, has worked on the ground in Haiti for more than 50 years.

The quake on Jan. 20, 2010 struck Haiti with an epicentre a mere 25 kilometres from the capital, Port-au-Prince and vastly changed the environment for aid to this day.

Governments, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and individuals pledged billions of dollars in support as people watched the media documenting the devastation. Despite the good intentions, thousands died due to the lack of disaster preparedness and weak infrastructure. The international interventions in the period post-earthquake reveal how complex, political, and even devastating foreign aid can be. While its post-earthquake disaster-response program is winding down, MCC is still working on long-term development initiatives and peacemaking through local partner-implemented projects that support education, human rights, health and water and sanitation outcomes. In addition, MCC runs one of the largest reforestation and agroforestry programs in Haiti, and remains committed to advocating for a better future for Haitians.

 

 

Click HERE for the original article.

 

“Our children Our future”

June 7, 2015 - 14:00

Join Massachusetts Association of Haitian Parents and The Haitian Youth Connection for a meeting with Boston’s Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Tommy Chang. This is an opportunity to discuss any issues you or your child have with your child’s school, whether it’s public or private. Make your voice heard!

WHERE:

Sant Belvi

6 Frontenac St

Dorchester, MA 02124

 

WHEN:

5pm to 7pm

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program Info Session

June 7, 2015 - 05:30

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will hold an information session on its limited Haitian Family Reunification Program (HFRP), which began in March.
 
WHERE:
Naples New Haitian Church of the Nazarene
5085 Bayshore Drive
Naples, Florida 34112
 
WHEN:
Sunday, June 7, 2015
8:30 – 9:30am
 
For general information on the HFRP, please contact IJDH Immigration Policy Coordinator Steve Forester at steveforester@aol.com or 786-877-6999.

Center for Constitutional Rights Supports Cholera Case Appeal

June 6, 2015 - 06:40

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) submitted an Amicus Brief in support of IJDH’s cholera case appeal. This brief, in addition to five others submitted by leading law scholars, human rights groups, civil society organizations and former UN officials, argue that the UN should be held accountable for its human rights violations involved in the cholera outbreak.

Click HERE for the full article.

U.N. Should Not Be Immune from Accountability for Cholera Epidemic in Haiti

Baher Azmy, Center for Constitutional Rights

June 6, 2015

This week, the Center for Constitutional Rights had the honor of joining two dozen human rights organizations in support of Haitians seeking accountability from the United Nations for its role in causing Haiti’s cholera outbreak after the 2010 earthquake. CCR co-authored an amicus brief on behalf of the groups (including CCR) in support of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti’s (IJDH) case against the U.N. for negligence and recklessness that created the cholera epidemic.

In October 2010, U.N. peacekeeping troops from Nepal, where cholera is endemic, were brought to assist with humanitarian efforts in Haiti, but failed to screen their personnel or properly maintain waste treatment facilities, thereby transmitting cholera into the primary water source for the country. Cholera had not been present in Haiti for 200 years prior, yet the overwhelming medical consensus is that this virulent strain in Haiti came from the un-screened U.N. personnel. Now the largest single-country cholera epidemic in the world, it killed 2000 Haitians in the first thirty days and currently affects nearly 7% of the population. The consensus of public health experts is that the U.N. was responsible for the epidemic. Led by the efforts of IJDH and the Haitian human rights NGO Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, Haitians demanded redress from U.N. officials in a variety of ways, including through the IJDH lawsuit on behalf of 5,000 Haitian cholera victims.

Click HERE for the full article.

Human Rights Organizations File Brief in Support of Appeal

June 5, 2015 - 07:54

A number of human rights organizations, including the John Marshall Law School International Human Rights Clinic, have filed a brief in support of the recent appeal by the victims of the Haitian cholera outbreak in their case against the United Nations. According to these organizations, the original ruling by a New York court that the UN has immunity in this case is in ignorance of international human rights law. They maintain that UN accountability and redress for the cholera outbreak should continue to be demanded.

Court Erred in Cholera Case and UN Should Make Redress to Victims

MarketWatch

CHICAGO, Jun 05, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE via COMTEX) —

A New York court failed to consider international human rights law when it ruled that the United Nations is immune from providing redress to victims of Haiti’s devastating cholera epidemic.

That’s according to new briefs filed by The John Marshall Law School International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) and other human rights groups and individuals in an ongoing lawsuit against the U.N.

On Oct. 9, 2013, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti and law firm Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzeli & Pratt filed a lawsuit against the U.N. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of Haitian cholera victims and their families. The case demanded the installation of water and sanitation infrastructure to control the epidemic and save more than 5,000 lives a year. On January of 2015, the court held that the U.N. enjoys nearly absolute legal immunity. The victims have filed an appeal asking the Court of Appeals to reverse the District Court’s dismissal.

The John Marshall IHRC is part of a coalition of human rights organizations in support of the victims’ appeal. The briefs were authored by John Marshall’s IHRC and attorneys from the California Western School of Law and Center for Constitutional Rights. It was signed by two dozen human rights and human interest groups from around the world.

 

Click HERE for the original article.